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Buffalo Bills Analysis, Week 11: Joe Brady’s first game as OC

Breaking down how Joe Brady injected some life into Bills’ offense

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills’ offense finally had a little pep in their step, scoring 32 points against an elite New York Jets defense en route to a lopsided victory in Week 11. Leading up to the game I wrote an article previewing what to expect from interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady in his first game as Buffalo’s play caller.

Let’s revisit the things I discussed in that article, while also looking into other tactics that Joe Brady implemented to help lead the Bills to score over 30 points for the first time since Week 4.

Overall Buffalo Bills game review

Buffalo’s offense scored 32 points, gaining 393 yards of total offense while averaging 5.5 yards per play. The Bills had 12 total drives, scoring on seven of those drives (three touchdowns, and four field goals). They were only 1-of-4 (25%) in scoring touchdowns in the red zone, but they converted those missed opportunities into field goals. The offense was also 5-of-13 converting third-down conversions. They passed 32 times and ran 38 times.

Some notable player statistics:

  • QB Josh Allen - 20/32, 275 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 1 INT, 5 carries for 15 yards
  • WR Kahlil Shakir - 3 receptions, 115 yards, 1 TD
  • RB James Cook - 17 carries for 73 rushing yards, 3 receptions for 29 yards and 1 TD
  • RB Ty Johnson - 3 carries for 11 yards, 3 receptions for 47 yards and 1 TD

Reviewing my Bills-Jets predictions

Let’s take a peek at what I highlighted as potential changes we might see from Joe Brady in his first game as the team’s interim offensive coordinator.

More unique personnel groupings

Buffalo’s offense rolled out some different looks throughout the game. They primarily ran 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) but mixed in plenty of different looks. They used two-tight-end sets, multiple running backs (see Ty Johnson TD), offensive linemen in motion, and different formations to throw curveballs at the Jets’ defense.

Utilizing players’ strengths

I specifically noted that getting James Cook the ball out of the backfield in the passing game would be something to look for in Week 11. Cook’s three receptions and receiving touchdown — and furthermore, Johnson’s three receptions and receiving TD — show just how Brady was able to capitalize on the pass-catching strengths out of the running backs. Two other examples of utilizing player strengths can be observed in Brady using wide receiver Gabe Davis to set up some key blocks in the run game, and loosening the chain on Josh Allen and his rushing.

Josh Allen being under center more

The Bills ran 71 total plays versus the Jets. Eighteen of those plays were run from under center, and 53 of those plays were in shotgun. It’s certainly not the 40% that the Carolina Panthers ran in 2020, but we will see how these splits move going forward.

Maybe a successful screen play

I missed the boat on this one, but there’s still time for this to develop!

Some more juice from the offense

It felt like the offense had more energy in Week 11 with Brady at the helm. However, it is more fun when you score points and long touchdowns. It was good to see the offense get loose and enjoy themselves. Hopefully, this leads to getting them into a groove in the stretch of games ahead.

Other new wrinkles Joe Brady used

Using motion more

According to the Buffalo News, the Bills shifted or used pre-snap motion on 44 of 71 plays (61.9%). This is an increase from Buffalo’s first 10 games where they used pre-snap shifting or motion on 50% of their plays according to Pro Football Focus. All of this pre-snap shifting and motion led to some success, according to Doug Farrar in the tweet below.

QB runs

Designed runs were sprinkled into the mix during the game and it was a sight for sore eyes for Bills fans. Allen only ran the ball five times for 15 yards, but he looked like he had fewer qualms about tucking the ball and running.

Running the ball more

The Bills ran the ball 38 times for 130 yards rushing, averaging 3.4 yards per carry. The offense ran a substantial amount of total plays (71) so they would naturally have more opportunities to run the ball. The most important point aspect for the 38 rushing attempts is that they ran the ball more than they passed it. Part of this is because they had a lead the entire game. I’d usually expect the Bills to be a pass-happy team, but I would continue to expect Joe Brady to be willing to run the ball a fair amount in neutral-down situations.

Outside contributing factors that had nothing to do with Brady

The Bills didn’t score 32 points solely because Brady is the new offensive coordinator. There were some other important factors that contributed to the offense's success that had nothing to do with Brady being the offensive coordinator.

Turnovers created by Bills’ defense

Buffalo’s defense finally created some turnovers and gave the offense more possessions to be able to score. The Bills’ defense created four total turnovers, two interceptions, and two fumbles. Cornerback Rasul Douglas — who was acquired via trade at the league deadline — was involved in three of those turnovers.

Short starting field position

The Bills’ average starting field position against the Jets was at their own 38-yard line — which includes two possessions that started inside the Jets’ 25-yard line. Of course, having short fields makes it easier to score more points.

In summary

Joe Brady’s first game as interim offensive coordinator went about as well as anyone could hope. He was able to lead the offense to 32 points while facing one of the top defenses in the NFL. I’d say that’s a fantastic start. Not everything that went right was because Joe Brady called the plays, but he did bring some wrinkles to the equation and gave the offense the jolt of energy it needed. We’ll find out how much resolve this offense, and the team, has when they go through their upcoming gauntlet of opponents. There isn’t much room left for error. It’s do-or-die time for the Buffalo Bills and if the offense “figures it out” heading into the playoffs, anything’s possible.