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Bills’ offensive play-calling struggles vs. Bengals

Insanity certainly looked like repeated execution during Buffalo’s biggest moment of 2022 season

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey had a rough day vs the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round. You may recall that the offense only scored 10 points. They seemed a step slow and weren’t very creative either, especially considering the elements. Let’s look at the tape and see where this lack of creativity really showed itself during the game.

Too much spread, too little blocking

As everyone knows, Buffalo’s pass protection against Cincinnati was awful. So why did they line up in spread? The Bills started this play with five eligible receivers, which meant there was no extra pass protection. This was a massive problem due to the Bengals being able to get pressure with four all day. Edge rusher Trey Hendrickson bull rushed left tackle Dion Dawkins back and the right side of the offensive line lost on a twist. This forced Josh Allen out of the pocket and he had to throw the ball away. A coordinator’s job is helping players out and Dorsey did the offensive line no favors here.

Run-game inconsistencies

The fact that Dorsey didn’t commit to running the football was a major problem in the team’s divisional round playoff loss. First, running back Devin Singletary had six carries for 4.2 yards per rush (pretty solid). Second, as already stated, the Bills’ offensive line was overmatched in pass protection. Third, the weather was more suited for running the ball.

Here, you see the offense operate under center (something they don’t do enough). Tight end Dawson Knox was in a three-point stance on the left side with receiver Gabe Davis next to him. At the snap, Knox kicked out Hendrickson and Davis blocked safety Jessie Bates from coming into the play. This allowed for Singletary to run through a clear hole, which he finished up by dragging a linebacker for extra yards.

Ill-equiped to handle the blitz

On this play Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo outdid Dorsey. Pre-snap Allen was in the gun with Cook to his right. At the snap, safety Von Bell blitzed off the left side and came in unblocked. With Cook on the right side, there was no one able to pick up the blitzer. This meant Allen had to get the ball out of his hands quickly, which didn’t happen because there was no checkdown option. Every receiver was running down the field and Cook was in the game to pick up the blitz from the right side — an easy sack for Cincinnati.

In summary

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s play calling was far from stellar. He seemed content letting the offense line up in the gun the whole time and allowing the Bengals to tee off all afternoon — to the tune of eight quarterback hits and a sack. So what’s the biggest issue with the play calling and how does it improve in 2023 and beyond? Sound off in the comments below!