Coming into the 2023 season, one Buffalo Bills item that was on the wish list for some in Bills Mafia was an increase to the amount of plays offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey would call that included motion, specifically motion at the snap. Seeing some of the “new wave” of offenses utilize it and have it correlate with success left some fans wanting more.
Through three weeks, motion hasn’t been a staple of the Bills’ offense relative to the rest of the league.
Seth Walder of ESPN Sports Analytics posted a graph on social media outlining teams that have motion at the snap on pass plays and run plays. Overall, the Bills were towards the bottom of the league in overall percentage of their plays that utilized motion at the snap.
The thought that some of the en vogue offenses in the NFL utilize this is proven correct by the data, with the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, and Green Bay Packers (teams known for having offensive coaches on the cutting edge of what offenses are doing in the league to gain the upper hand) separating themselves from the rest of the league.
It’s important to note that some well-respected offensive minds find themselves coaching teams that are are the bottom left of this chart. Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator Dave Canales has been effusively lauded for his work with quarterback Geno Smith last year (as the Seahawks QB coach) and quarterback Baker Mayfield this year to create effective offenses without the benefit of an established elite quarterback. Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has presided over an explosive offense for the last two seasons that helped them reach a Super Bowl in quarterback Jalen Hurts’ breakout year.
So it’s not quite as simple as “more motion is good and less is bad” from a correlation standpoint. It does seem to be as simple as “more motion is the new fad” from a correlation standpoint. It remains to be seen how these correlations end up over time, but Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan offered some insight into why an offense would choose not to use as much motion:
Some terrific Miami Motion offense 101 from Bengals OC Brian Callahan Wednesday. Excellent insight. pic.twitter.com/GzewVqo8BE— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) September 27, 2023
The idea that a particular quarterback might prefer a more static offense because it makes his diagnostic process more comfortable is a big part of this equation. We may never know exactly how Josh Allen feels about it, but this perspective from Callahan is useful.
Overall, motion on offense will continue to be a big discussion point amongst fans and analysts this year in large part due to the success the Dolphins are having in its utilization. The Bills haven’t jumped onto the train yet and we don’t know if they will, but it’s an offensive trend worth monitoring.
...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!