A column by CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Columnist
It’s been a weird week for the Bills … to say the least.
First, less than 12 hours after Buffalo lost for the fourth time in six games, this one a gaffe-filled, embarrassing 24-22 Monday night defeat by the Broncos in Orchard Park, no less, head coach Sean McDermott decided a change was in order.
Likely that conclusion was hastened when, moments after the Bills had 12 men on the field as Denver missed the potential 41-yard game-winning field goal and the resultant penalty gave the Broncos a second chance for the winner from five yards closer. Calls for McDermott’s job immediately flooded social media.
The next morning offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was gone, the fifth coordinator he’s dispatched since taking the job in 2017 and the third in the last 33 months.
If you see a pattern there, me too.
ANYWAY, Tuesday morning, viola, Buffalo had a new OC, 34-year-old Joe Brady, formerly the quarterback coach.
Team reaction, led by QB Josh Allen, strongly defended Dorsey and took the blame for the circumstances that caused him his job.
Into that mix, Trevon Diggs, a Dallas cornerback, went on social media and maintained his brother, wide receiver Stefon, had to get out of Buffalo. Stefon distanced himself from his brother’s opinion and maintained his allegiance to the Bills. Of course, Devanta Adams wasn’t leaving Green Bay, either.
But, there were plenty of media types and fans who felt Dorsey’s firing was overdue.
Dan Orlovsky, a former NFL quarterback who in part of seven seasons with the Lions, Colts, Bucs and Texans, played 26 games with 12 starts, is now an ESPN analyst filling a QB guru-type role.
Early this week, Orlovsky got significant TV air time on both One Bills Live and the national Pat McAfee Show.
He repeatedly punctuated both appearances with one word and one phrase. He called the Bills’s offense “predictable” and said it was “schematically broken.”
He followed the latter up with this: “There was never any schematic advantage to the players, and that started to show itself week-to-week too much. Everyone will throw out these numbers that this offense is actually OK. I disagree with that. They’ve got players that mask that.”
He intimated that opposing defensive coordinators often had a good idea what was coming.
NEXT UP is a meeting with the New York Jets, tomorrow afternoon (4:25, CBS-TV, 95.7 FM, 100.1 FM, 550 AM) at Highmark Stadium with chilly temperatures and possible rain or snow.
As usual, even at 5-5, the Bills, who haven’t covered the spread in the last six games, are favored by seven.
Meanwhile, the Jets, incredibly, are 4-5 though not having scored a touchdown in their last 36 possessions.
How is that possible considering their quarterback, Zach Wilson, ranks 25th in the NFL with five touchdown passes, six interceptions and nine fumbles?
He’s played all but four snaps after starter designate Aaron Rodgers ruptured his achilles tendon on the first possession of the season opener. That was the Monday night the Jets beat the Bills, 22-16, on an overtime punt-return TD which portended some of what was to come for Buffalo.
Allen, ranked in the league’s Top 5 QBs when the season began, turned the ball over four times in that loss, three picks and a fumble. He’s tumbled to 12th in the NFL’s quarterback rankings, partly because his 11 interceptions are the most of his contemporaries and he’s responsible for 14 of Buffalo’s 18 turnovers this season.
New York’s defense ranks sixth in the NFL in both fewest points and yards surrendered and despite its anemic offense, the Jets have beaten last year’s Super Bowl loser, Philadelphia, fallen to the winner, Kansas City, by three and also have a four- and a five-point loss. In short, the Jets are 15 points from having the most unlikely 7-2 record in NFL history.
AND THERE’S this.
Despite his glittering regular-season record (67-40, .626, best regular-season percentage in franchise history), McDermott hasn’t exactly owned the Jets. He’s 8-6 against them in his six-plus seasons and has lost two of the last three.
Now he’ll face them with an injury-riddled defense and an offense in disarray under a new OC who got the job Tuesday morning.
New York coach Robert Saleh, when asked about Buffalo’s offensive situation, noted, “They have a new coordinator and we have some ideas about what they might do, which I can’t share with you,“ he said, “but you can’t reinvent the wheel in five days.
“There will be nuance, but how much of (Brady) is going to show up, it’s going to take some time. The play-calling will be different. The personnel packages will be different, we’re fully anticipating that.”
But Saleh admits that Buffalo still has its biggest weapon.
“Josh is a phenomenal quarterback. He’s one of the Top 10 in the league, takes a lot of pride in what he does and he’s a one-man wrecking crew and damn-near Superman on the football field,” he said. “I have tons of regard for him and everything we do is it’s about Josh.”
Saleh added of the Bills, “They’re talented all around. Their tight end (Dalton Kincaid) is good, Diggs, the backs are good, the line’s good. They’re a very talented football team and Josh has also punched us in the mouth a couple of times too.”
Knowing Buffalo’s injury woes on defense, he added, “They’ve had experienced people come in (for injured starters) and step up, knowing what they’re supposed to do. They’e put together some very good defensive game plans.”
THE BILLS got good news from the injury report as only defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (knee) and wide receiver Trent Sherfield (ankle) were listed as questionable.
For the Jets, right offensive tackle Billy Turner (finger) didn’t practice Friday and No. 1 wide receiver Garrett Wilson (elbow) was limited but expected to play.
Bills 17, Jets 16
(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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