Brian Daboll doesn’t sound as if he’s stressing over the fact the Buffalo Bills’ offense ranks near the bottom of the NFL in scoring and their passing yards put them in the middle of the pack.
As the offensive coordinator of a team with a 4-1 record, he feels more satisfaction than trepidation with what’s happening on his side of the ball.
“At the end of the day, whatever we have to do to win,” Daboll said Monday. “Look, I’d love to score 60 a game. But if we win, 3-0, or, 7-3, or, 14-10, and we make good decisions with the football and we play good, complementary football, particularly with how our defense is playing, that’s fine, too.”
That was the type of football the Bills mainly played in their last game, a 14-7 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 6. Their defense showed its typical smothering form. Except for one terrible interception, Josh Allen complemented that effort through wise choices on where to go with his throws, including passes he intentionally threw away to avoid a sack or a turnover.
Allen called it the best of his 16 career starts, even though his numbers were fairly modest: 23 completions in 32 attempts for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
It was easy to conclude from the quarterback’s self-assessment that he’s grasping the idea that, despite being a seventh overall draft pick and hyped as finally proving the franchise answer missing for so long, he does not have to carry the team on his passing arm. Not as long as its defense ranks third in the NFL in yards allowed and resides in the upper echelon of every other major statistical category.
As the Bills returned from their bye and began preparing for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, Daboll wasn’t ready to declare that the offensive showing against the Titans would serve as any sort of model for the remaining 11 games on the schedule.
He also wouldn’t rule out there being similarities in what the offense does the rest of the way.
“Every week is a new week [as far as] how you want to attack a team, the overall structure of playing complementary football,” Daboll said. “And, again, we can’t forget, [Allen] has started and finished how many games? Fourteen? So, look, there will always be some things that we’d like to get fixed. There always is with any younger player.
“There’s a flow of the game as it goes. Some of that could be how our defense is playing, some of that could be field position, some of that could be weather conditions, some of that could be field conditions. We have tons of different kinds of passes. Usually, on most passes, there’s a deep, intermediate and a short. And Josh’s job is to make the appropriate read and throw it to the right person as many times as he can, which we hope is a bunch. And it was [against the Titans].
“There’s stuff we will continue to work on. We put the ball in jeopardy there in the third [quarter], but he did a good job of bouncing back. But I’ve said it plenty of times, I’ll say it again: I have a tremendous amount of faith in Josh. He’s improved. We’ve all got to improve more. But, again, the job of a quarterback is to help his team win football games, number one; take care of the ball, which we’re working on, and score points, which we’re working on.”
Daboll considered it a sign of progress that Allen went from throwing three interceptions in the Bills’ 16-10 loss against the New England Patriots on Sept. 29 to one against Tennessee.
“We’d love to have zero every game,” Daboll said.
In five games, Allen has thrown seven interceptions to five touchdown passes. Daboll sees only one solution to minimizing turnovers.
“Teach,” the coach said. “The decision-making process, situations in the game. I’d love to say there’s not going to be any more of those and I know Josh would, too. And if there is, there is. We’re going to have to regroup and keep cool, level heads and move on to the next play. But we’re working on that diligently.”
With the way coach Sean McDermott structures in-season practices, Daboll and the rest of the coaching staff can address fundamental elements with players while preparing them for an opponent.
Much of that takes place during individual work, which the Bills do at the start of each session before 11-on-11 drills when the starting units square off against the respective scout teams.
“We spend a lot of time and individual, whether that be double-team footwork, release footwork in one-on-ones for the defensive backs and the receivers, ball location for the quarterbacks,” Daboll said. “[Quarterbacks coach] Ken [Dorsey] does a ton of drills with these guys in moving the pocket. We practice against one another, I’d say, at a high, competitive level to try to make it as real as we can possibly make it.
“At this time of year, you have these schemes that you put in [as part of each game plan], but you’ve still got to focus and concentrate on your fundamentals and techniques because, at the end of the day, that’s what wins. It’s not as much schemes and things like that. We’re going to try to put our guys in position as best as we can, but we have to really play with good pad level and leverage, move our feet, hands inside, come back to the football, one foot in front of the numbers on an outside throw. There are so many different things that you’re constantly focusing on because that’s the nuts and bolts of what a player does and makes them successful.”
Successful, as in winning.
Tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) practiced, as did running back Devin Singletary (hamstring), offensive lineman Cody Ford (head), offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe (ankle), center Mitch Morse (ankle), defensive end Trent Murphy (head), wide receiver Robert Foster (groin), defensive back Taron Johnson (hamstring) and linebacker Corey Thompson (ankle).
Linebacker Matt Milano (hamstring) did not practice. He watched the portion of practice open to the media from the sideline, then worked in the weight room.
The Bills announced Monday they signed wide receiver Jordan Veasy to their practice squad. Veasy was signed to the practice squad in late September but was released Oct. 1 before being re-signed Monday.