The Buffalo Bills’ offense was near the top of all statistical categories in 2022, finishing second in both total yards per game at 397.6 and points per game at 28.4. The rushing attack racked up 100 or more yards in 16 of 18 games this year. It wasn’t always the best, but the team’s performance on the ground was certainly better than many media members and most fans would give them credit. In Football Outsider’s DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) Buffalo finished second overall on offense. The Bills were seventh in PFF’s (Pro Football Focus) overall grade at 86.6, and the 84.1 grade in passing was good enough for third. The offense ran (literally at times) through quarterback Josh Allen, and he appeared to be most confident that Mitch Morse was his center. @SportsRoc2 kept it short but accurate saying, “Morse’s best attribute is that he’s a thoughtful leader and cerebral player.” The trust of Allen and his leadership qualities helped place Morse at the beginning of our top five most important Bills from the 2022 NFL season.
Mitch Morse came in at No. 5 in the Cover 1 cumulative Top 10 Important Player rankings by earning 23 of 70 possible points (first-place vote = 10 points, tenth-place vote = 1). Morse’s highest ranking came from @UberHansen, who scribed the center fourth in his Top 10. The man in the middle of the Bills’ line came in one point ahead of Tremaine Edmunds, who finished sixth.
The Missouri product finished in the middle of the road in most boxscore stats, allowing four sacks, 13 hurries, and 20 pressures in his fifteen games for Buffalo this season. He also only had two penalties against, and according to PFF, he had an efficiency rating of 97.9%. “There is an argument to be had that center is the most important position on the offensive line and in Buffalo that may just be the case. Morse maintains interior pocket integrity on pass plays and is a key figure when out in space on run plays,” said @UberHansen. The biggest numbers in Morse’s favor align with the eye test, and that is how the Bills line played in games he missed. Buffalo gave up eight sacks in those three games alone and had a couple of their worst yards-per-rush attempt performances. If you watched those games or the other two he had to leave early, it was obvious Allen wasn’t as comfortable, and not having Morse calling out signals was a major issue.
Just like the boxscore stats, Morse’s advanced numbers place him around the middle of qualified centers to have played 50% or more of their team’s snaps. PFF placed him 10th in pass blocking with a 70.1 grade. He dropped down to 22nd in overall offensive blocking with a grade of 61.9. That said, just like his counting stats, Morse’s value is shown when you evaluate the games he didn’t play. Weeks 3 and 12 were two of the team’s three worst offensive outings, and those are games he missed. Their pass blocking in those games is two of their four poorest showings, and run blocking also fell off a cliff. “Morse is the center and a guy who has been around the Bills for some time now. You saw when Morse was out for a few games how disoriented the Bills’ offensive line was. Also has been a captain for the Bills,” added @AjayCybulski.
Game of the Year:
Morse’s best game came in the Wild Card win over Miami, where the Dolphins threw everything at Buffalo, and he guided a line that was in shambles at that point. PFF graded it as the team’s second-best run-blocking outing and the best pass-blocking showing of the season. As an individual, he allowed one sack for an efficiency of 95.8%. In a game where everything was thrown at the Bills, and nothing went their way, Morse was the calming force needed for them to escape with a playoff win for a third straight season. Lastly, who could forget his flying in to protect Allen in the little dust-up late in the game? I can only hope my friends have my back like that.
Mitch Morse signed a contract extension with the Bills before the start of the 2022 season. According to Spotrac, he signed a two-year deal worth $19,500,000, including a $7,500,000 signing bonus, $12,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $9,750,000. They go on to say Morse will earn a base salary of $6,640,000, a roster bonus of $1,420,000, and a workout bonus of $100,000 while carrying a cap hit of $11,160,000 and a dead cap value of $5,000,000 in 2023.
Vorse’s Final Take
I broke this down a lot in the stats portion, but Morse’s true value to the Bills is his leadership and calming presence when he is in the lineup. It’s a bummer that we only truly notice it when he is out. I struggle with post-concussion issues and hope all the best for Morse, but we know he and the Bills want, or need, him to play for a couple more years. It’s obvious, even to an untrained eye, how much more in-tune Buffalo’s offense, especially Josh Allen, is when Morse gives the snaps. Whether it is calling out assignments, protecting Allen (sometimes literally), or blocking the opposing tackles, the Bills need a healthy Morse. If you don’t believe me when it comes to Morse’s value, the players voted him as the fifth best center in their All-Pro balloting.
#4 Linebacker Matt Milano