clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The offensive enigma of the 2023 Buffalo Bills

Stats are good... the results not so much

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills sit at 5-4 and haven’t won back-to-back games since they won three in a row in Weeks 2-4. In all of their losses, and even in some of their most recent wins, most people would say the Bills’ offense hasn’t looked “normal.” This has led to some serious questioning (rightfully so) of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and his play calling, quarterback Josh Allen and his decision making, and even how head coach Sean McDermott fits into the equation.

That being said, Buffalo’s offense is still top-tier based on numerous different statistical data points. Let’s dig into these data points on the Bills’ offense, of which I’ll then try to conclude why they might not correlate to victories. Buckle up.

Key rankings of 2023 Buffalo Bills offense

Average Yards Per Game

The Bills rank fifth in the NFL in average yards per game with 370.2 yards. They also rank third in total yards this season with 3,332 yards, but they haven’t had their bye week yet so average yards per game is a better metric. This clearly shows the Bills aren’t having trouble gaining yards. Of course, they want to be the best, but they’re still top-tier.

Yards Per Play

Buffalo ranks third in the NFL with 5.9 yards per play. Another example of the team’s ability to move the ball down the field.

First Downs Per Game

The Bills rank fourth in first downs per game with 22.4. Sustaining drives is important, and Buffalo is among the top five in the NFL in doing this.

Third-Down Efficiency

This stat measures the success rate of converting for a first down on third down. The Bills are tied for first in the NFL in third-down efficiency at 50%. This stat somewhat surprised me, but the Buffalo Bills are the best at converting third downs in the NFL — can’t complain about that.

Points Per Game

The Bills rank fifth in the NFL in points per game with 26.7 points. This number is down from the past three seasons where they averaged 28.4 (2022), 28.4 (2021), and 31.3 (2020). The Bills would like to score more points, but offensive point scoring seems to be slightly down in the NFL overall this season. Buffalo does have four high-scoring games that prop them up in this department, but they still count. In the past five weeks, their point totals haven’t reached 30 points.

Buffalo Bills’ Offensive Line Metrics

The below metrics are from @bembbaldwin, aka Computer Cowboy as he’s known on social media. He basically takes the three companies that measure offensive line metrics and averages them out to make composite rankings. The Bills rank first in pass blocking and fifth in run blocking. This passes the eye test also. Buffalo’s moves on the offensive line seem to be paying off.

  • Rookie guard O’Cyrus Torrence appears to be a gem found in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
  • Free Agent Guard Connor McGovern is proving to be an upgrade over last season’s personnel.
  • Sticking with right tackle Spencer Brown after some questionable performances this preseason was a bold move — but, to his credit, Brown has improved immensely.

Pass Blocking

Furthermore, Allen’s sack percentage is tied for a career-low at 3.9% (a good thing).

Run Blocking

Where does Josh Allen ranking among his peers in 2023?

Josh Allen's Completion Percentage

Josh Allen currently ranks second in the NFL in completion percentage of 71.3%, the highest of his career. Who saw this coming? Not me.

Allen’s QBR

Josh Allen is number one in the NFL in adjusted QBR with a 75.3 rating.

Buffalo Bills scoring and points data through nine game

Total TDs versus Total Field Goals Attempted

The Bills are second in the NFL in total TDs scored with 29 (3.2/game). The Bills are 24th in field goals attempted. This tells me that the Bills are mostly capitalizing on touchdowns in scoring opportunities, which is ideal. However, this doesn’t take into account turnovers or turnover on downs. Additionally, the Bills rank fifth in the NFL in average drives that end in an offensive score with 43%.

Red Zone scoring % (TD)

The Bills rank third in the NFL in scoring touchdowns in the red zone at 68.57%.

Average Points Per Drive

The Bills rank fourth in the NFL in average points per drive with 2.49 points.

Josh Allen MVP?

Check this out....

And for the analytical types

The stats are good, why are the Bills 5-4?

This is a great question! The simple answer is that in four games this season the Buffalo Bills have scored fewer points than the team they were playing. That answer isn’t going to suffice for most of Bills Mafia, so let's look at some possibilities of why the team is struggling to pull out close-game victories.

  • Buffalo’s offense has been starting slow. Since Week 5, the Bills are currently averaging 6.8 points in the first half, which is ranked 28th in the NFL. This gets them in a hole to start the game and has them playing catch-up the rest of the game. This factors in mentally just as much as it does strategically. For what it is worth, the Bills rank third in average points in the second half with 13.4 points since Week 5.
  • They turn the ball over too much. They currently rank seventh in the NFL in percentage of drives that end in an offensive turnover at 15.1%.
  • Josh Allen doesn’t find his rhythm until the second half. Allen has a first-half QB rating of 96.3 (14th) and a second-half QB rating of 103.1 (second). For fun, Allen ranks second in fourth-quarter QB rating at 108.0. Too little too late?
  • Lack of big plays. The Bills currently rank 12th in the NFL in passing plays over 25 yards. This isn’t terrible, but it seems like big plays are missing in important moments in the game for the Bills.

Now What?

It’s pretty simple, the Bills need to win more football games. The season is far from over, but a sense of urgency is needed. Buffalo’s schedule isn’t doing them any favors, but they need to string some wins together to secure themselves a playoff spot. Some keys to victory on offense going forward should be:

  • Get Josh Allen into a rhythm early and score points in the first half. They’re trying to do this already, but staying in a groove on offense is a little easier when you aren’t playing from behind all the time.
  • Keep going to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The team has a WR1 for a reason, so keep feeding him.
  • Embrace the emergence of tight end Dalton Kincaid. The 2023 first-round draft pick has burst onto the scene since tight end Dawson Knox went down with an injury. The Bills should continue featuring him as its WR2, design plays specifically for him, and let him take advantage of mismatches.
  • Who’s the big play threat? Connecting on some more big plays down the field would go a long way for this offense. This might be one of those “see it go through the net” type of deals — once Allen connects on a deep ball, maybe they will come in bunches.