In firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, Bills coach McDermott places more focus on himself
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — By seeking to solve one immediate crisis in firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey on Tuesday to spark quarterback Josh Allen and a stagnating offense, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott potentially opened the door for another one.
The long-awaited and necessary decision made in a bid to salvage what’s left of a season for a 5-5 team fading out of the playoff picture now focuses the attention squarely on McDermott. For the first time in what’s been a mostly successful seven-year tenure in Buffalo, the head coach finds himself alone at the top and open to being second-guessed.
Dorsey’s dismissal after less than two years coincides with an offseason coaching shuffle in which McDermott lost his most trusted confidant in Leslie Frazier.
The Bills announced in February that the defensive coordinator elected to take a year off from coaching despite still being under contract. Frazier’s departure led to McDermott taking over the defensive play-calling duties, which at the time was the logical transition for the defensive-minded coach.
At issue is whether McDermott might have stretched himself too thin in banking on Dorsey to show progress despite apparent signs of inconsistency during his first season on the job last year in replacing Brian Daboll, who was hired to coach the New York Giants.
The task now falls on quarterbacks coach Joe Brady in taking over the coordinator’s job on an interim basis to instill what McDermott called “confidence and energy” into an offense that has sputtered for much of the past six weeks.
The drop-off in production has been stark for an offense that has failed to score 26 points in six consecutive games, matching the worst stretch since Allen’s rookie season in 2018. Turnovers are an issue, with Allen leading the league with 11 interceptions, including at least one in six straight outings.
As much as McDermott said he allows his assistants room to place their own stamp on their respective units, he did so in acknowledging the responsibility ultimately falls on him.
“I’m the head coach of the football team, so I always start with myself first,” he said.
To McDermott’s credit, he’s done a masterful job overseeing an injury-depleted defense missing three key starters to long-term injuries, and was minus two more in a 24-22 loss to Denver on Monday night. The defense can be credited as the reason why Buffalo has yet to lose a game this season by more than six points.
The offense’s failings, however, also fall on McDermott, as did a special teams mix-up that cost Buffalo a chance to beat the Broncos.
The Bills inexplicably had 12 players on the field when Broncos kicker Wil Lutz missed a 41-yard field-goal attempt with 4 seconds remaining. Lutz made good on his do-over from 36 yards as time expired.
McDermott said it was inexcusable to have that happen, though he maintained his confidence in special teams coach Matthew Smiley.
Should the Bills’ struggles continue, at what point does the brunt of criticism start falling on McDermott, if it hasn’t already?
A patchwork defense that allowed two field goals off four turnovers against Denver. Overall, Buffalo’s 18 giveaways this season have resulted in just 46 points against.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Extending drives. During their first four games, the Bills had 28 of 38 drives cross midfield, with 24 of them ending in points. During their past six, the Bills have had 34 of 57 drives cross midfield, with just 19 ending in points.
LB Terrel Bernard. The second-year player shook off the effects of being limited in practice last week because of a concussion to lead Buffalo by having a hand on 13 tackles while adding a sack.
Edge rusher Von Miller. Facing his former team, Miller showed few signs of his surgically repaired right knee improving in an outing he managed one tackle.
WR Trent Sherfield did not return after sustaining an ankle injury. DB Cam Lewis left the game late with an ankle injury.
5-5 — Buffalo’s worst record through 10 games since being 3-7 in 2018, the previous time the team missed the playoffs.
Hosting division rival Jets (4-5) on Sunday in a rematch of their season opener in which Allen committed four turnovers (three interceptions and a lost fumble), allowing New York to rally for a 22-16 overtime win.