The Buffalo Bills have officially parted ways with Rick Dennison after one season. This move seemed inevitable and one that really shows that General Manager Brandon Beane and Head Coach Sean McDermott are not going to tolerate mediocrity.
While the offense did lack weapons to fully operate an efficient passing attack, one would have expected Dennison to at the very least command a top-ten rushing offense considering his lineage, the talent at the position in LeSean McCoy, and the team’s recent domination in that department.
Instead, the outside zone run game failed the first quarter of the season, which prompted the staff to incorporate more gap/man schemes around week four, and even more during their week six bye. But the lack of practice time spent repping the running game really showed in their inability to adjust to defenses. This aspect often goes unnoticed. In prior years, the staff spent an enormous amount of time repping the run game and the multitude of concepts and line calls. The run game was what they hung their hat on. That wasn’t the case with Dennison. His run game was, generally speaking, more simple and relied on defenders to lose their discipline in order to bust big runs rather than purely dominating the line of scrimmage, something the Bills took pride in under former coordinators Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn.
Dennison’s inability to get his run game going with the tools he had at his disposal was the reason he was fired. I don’t think it was the game plans, the fragmented play calling at times, or even the ineffective passing game. I believe there were some legitimate reasons why those things didn’t run smoothly. It was his inability maintain efficiency on the ground.
Rick Dennison is out, and the Bills may not be done in that regard. The future status of some offensive players is up for discussion. But before any of those decisions are made, the organization needs to hire a new coordinator.
A few names that are consistently being linked to GM Beane and HC McDermott are prior coworkers Mike McCoy, Rob Chudzinksi, and the recently fired Mike Shula.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 12, 2018
All have ties to the Bills brass in some capacity and all have called plays in the NFL. After experiencing what Rex Ryan did to the Bills’ defense in the prior years and what Dennison did this season, it got me wondering about what kind of run game systems the potential coordinators scheme. This is incredibly important when you consider the traits that the current linemen have and what they have been most successful executing.
The following statistics are according to SportsInfo Solutions (SIS). SIS charts every NFL (and FBS) game and tracks advanced stats from every angle. They work with several NFL teams and are the data provider for Football Outsiders. They have created an advanced database that allows you to filter data on dozens of levels from personnel packages to route types, run types, coverage types, and more. According to their analysts, the aforementioned coaches’ run games broke down into the following buckets:
The Broncos fired McCoy in late November, so these statistics won’t paint the entire picture, but it appears that McCoy’s run game, which was ranked 23rd in rush rank DVOA, broke down in the following manner:
Inside Zone: 25.5%
Whose offensive run game philosophy fits the Bills personnel best?