We are two weeks into the NFL season, and the Buffalo Bills’ offense looks better than ever. Or at least it feels that way. The Bills have picked up where they left off in 2021, winning their first two games 72-17. It begs the question, just how good is this Bills offense? What makes this offense different from the offenses of Brian Daboll?
How are the Bills doing?
First, let’s dive into where the Bills’ offense ranks. At first glance, the numbers don’t jump off the page. The Bills ranked 7th in offensive DVOA. But a more accurate picture starts to come together when you dive deeper. Buffalo ranks No. 3 in EPA per play, 1st in EPA per drop back, and 2nd in success rate (A stat that measures success by achieving 50 percent of yards to go on first down, 70 percent on second, or 100% percent on third or fourth).
What about in high-pressure spots?
On third and fourth down, the Bills’ offense is No. 1 in EPA and No. 1 in success rate by a large margin. If raw stats are more your thing, Buffalo sits atop the league rankings at No. 1 in yards-per-game and No. 1 in total points – mind you, they didn’t play most of their starters in the third quarter of their Monday night game.
Simply put, not only is the Bills’ offense producing more yards and points than almost anyone, they are doing it with incredible efficiency and when it matters most.
What makes this year different
Again, let’s start looking at some numbers for comparison. Well, the jump may not be as big as you think. The Bills were 4th in EPA per play in 2021. They made a big jump in EPA per drop after finishing last season in 8th.
Alright, that is enough stats for one article. Let’s get to the why – why is the offense better? What is Ken Dorsey doing differently?
He is more than an extension of Brian Daboll. Ken Dorsey is developing his own wrinkles and his own flavor of offense. One example of this is that in 2021, the Bills used 22 personnel (two tight ends and two running backs) 9 times. In 2022, the Bills have already used three times on dropbacks, one resulting in a touchdown.
Through two games, the Bills are using more heavy personal sets. Look no further than the usage of fullback/tight end Reggie Gilliam. Gilliam saw more than 25% of snaps just three times in 2021, and so far in 2022, Reggie Gilliam has seen 32% and 26% of snaps (again, remember most starters were pulled in the third quarter of the Titians game.) Teams are being forced to keep an extra linebacker on the field when they face the vaunted Bills passing attack. Josh Allen has seen the fifth-most three linebacker sets on his dropbacks among qualifying passers. Buffalo’s offense is too multiple for there to be any easy answer for stopping them.
— Kendall Mirsky (@MirskyKendall) September 22, 2022
The Josh Allen Effect
This article has been nothing but a flood of numbers, so let’s take a qualitative look at the most crucial player on the offense – Josh Allen.
There isn’t a single number or statistic that sums up how Allen has played since the wildcard round of last season’s playoffs. He is playing better than any quarterback on the face of the planet. It is different than 2020 MVP runner-up Josh Allen – he is playing the game with increased maturity and is more nuanced than ever.
Bumps in the road will come. Not every game will be a 20-point blowout. But all evidence points to the Bills’ offense being a juggernaut, unseen by Buffalo’s fans in the 62-year history.
Josh Allen solved football
— Greg Cover 1 🏈 (@GregTompsett) September 20, 2022