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All-22 Analysis: The open case of Buffalo Bills WR Gabe Davis, featuring Cincinnati’s Bengals

Zero catches? What’s the deal?

Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills had an overall disappointing game against the Cincinnati Bengals. In all the dismay so many of Bills Mafia are working through, there are plenty of items to choose from but one very notable stat line belonged to wide receiver Gabe Davis. That line? Zero catches. It’s not like he didn’t have time either. He was on the field for 54 snaps. What gives? Was he not open? Dorsey decided to leave him out of the game plan? Seriously? Zero catches? Let’s take a look!

Before you hit the GIFs though, want some light reading? I had a little extra time and decided to break out a feature I haven’t done in a long time. Click below to download a PDF of my notes/thoughts on every single passing play Davis was in on.

Gabe Davis notes and more vs. Bengals.pdf

Play 1 — Open

If you read through all my notes like some kind of maniac, you likely saw a trend of me indicating that I felt quarterback Josh Allen was doing a fair few half-field reads and quick scans. This, above, was one of those plays. I think he glanced left before Davis’ route had time to develop then looked right for the shot to tight end Dalton Kincaid. Davis was very much open though since he was heading more to the sideline than Kincaid, less YAC would be expected.

Play 2 — Still open

This is more open than anyone should expect to be open in the NFL. This route was obscene. Things work out okay as Allen targeted wide receiver Trent Sherfield who drew a defensive pass interference call. In my penalty recap I said I didn’t really love the penalty as Sherfield was creating most of the contact. Now you can take a look on a loop and see how you feel about that.

Play 3 — Continues to be open

On first down a lot of people have criticized this attempt at a kill shot. This might not dissuade anyone thinking that. Gave Davis was yet again absurdly open with room to run. Allen decided for the bomb prior to seeing how Davis’ route developed.

Play 4 — Interception

I never want to say I know what a player is thinking or how a play is drawn up, but let’s look at the evidence we have. At the first pause where Allen was starting to throw the ball we can see Davis wasn’t beyond his man yet and was driving to the sideline, giving up the inside leverage. The ball traveled into the waiting hands of cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt. With all that stuff I just mentioned, it’s my belief that this ball is underthrown. If it hit the red X, Davis could have worked the toe-drag swag to make the catch. With what happened, he never had a chance.

Play 5 — Open again

Remember how Gabe Davis used to be really good at getting open deep and he had a ludicrous yards per catch? Well he’s still getting open deep. Check the notes document to see just how often I felt he was asked to run a deeper route in this game. Some of these were to clear underneath routes and help his team. Many looked like viable routes.

Play 6 — Is he open again? Why, yes!

Being fair, either route was easy yards for Josh Allen. Once again, the Kincaid route had a higher YAC potential in all likelihood. That was also the undoing of this drive, but if you play scared of a turnover you aren’t playing at all. This is here to merely show that Davis was a viable option as well. Allen, like he did on many plays in this game, made a quick read that didn’t appear to include Davis.

The Final Straw

You’ll have to read the notes to take it all in but here’s the short version. Gabe Davis was open quite often in the game. He saw two targets, one which was underthrown and intercepted. The other was overthrown and his face mask was getting yanked around with no flag. Half-field reads, quick reads, and plays designed for a specific target limited Davis’ opportunities. Davis showed off a diverse route tree, getting open in a variety of ways. He just wasn’t the target this time around. And for anyone curious, I saw quite a few route combos on plays that I really liked.