21 months later, the Bills haven’t recovered from that 13-second playoff slump against the Chiefs
When Josh Allen was asked to process his emotions Monday night — after a 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos that was a sprawling organizational debate — he looked down at the microphone placed in front of him. After a long pause through a thousand-yard shot, the Buffalo Bills quarterback settled on an injury assessment linking him to many of his lowest points.
“It’s nice,” he said.
This is a phrase that Allen uses a lot, effectively including several destructive moments in his career. He was fired in September when he turned the ball over four times in a loss to the New York Jets. He was eliminated in 2019 after a late December loss to the New England Patriots. He was dating when he got a false positive on a COVID test in August 2020. And he was devastated in 2018 when controversial tweets from his teens surfaced before the NFL draft.
But there was something about Monday night’s embarrassing loss, which led to the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey on Tuesday, that felt familiar in Allen’s estimation. Maybe it was panic at the moment or Allen’s short, deadpan answers. Or maybe it was just the lingering feeling that something under the Bills, something hard to get to, is still broken.
It has been 661 days since the Bills suffered a 13-second deficit against the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs. An infamous moment in Buffalo history that saw Patrick Mahomes march the Chiefs to a game-tying field goal despite receiving the ball with just 13 seconds left in regulation. Kansas City would tie the game on that kick, then score a late touchdown on the first possession of overtime.
“It’s sad how it happened,” Allen would later say.
More than 21 months later, on a night that saw the Bills turn the ball over again and commit some costly penalties that should be laid at the feet of the coaching staff, it’s back to square one assessment. But this well-known valley has an even more damning sight. Looking back at that playoff loss to the Chiefs — which included a vow from Allen to hold on to that empty feeling and not let it happen again — it’s hard to see that these Buffalo Bills aren’t just a worse edition of their younger selves. yesterday.
They don’t look like a team that rose up after getting laid by the Chiefs in back-to-back playoff losses. If anything, despite the additions to the roster and the experience Allen has gained, the Bills look like a regressive team.
Some of it can be seen in the way Allen plays, reverting to a turnover-prone style that seemed to be scrutinized by the presence of former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Statistically, there is no evidence of a significant drop in Buffalo’s offense under Dorsey. The Bills remain in the top 10 in scoring and are seventh in the NFL in average yards per game. But they are also turning the ball over at critical times and have sputtered to a scoreboard output of less than 25 points in six straight games. There has often been a lack of consistency to date and the suggestive cohesion that usually defines Super Bowl winning teams has not yet been there.
As Bills head coach Sean McDermott said Tuesday, “We’ve got to find that confidence, we’ve got to find that energy, we’ve got to find that consistent level of production.”
They may also need to find former spark Josh Allen as well. He is not working at his peak at the moment, still making too many bad decisions and still playing reckless warrior style football. But what was most disturbing about watching him talk to the media Monday night, there is a level of fire that seems to diminish as the losses and mistakes pile up.
That may be resolved with the promotion of Joe Brady to the offensive coordinator role. Maybe the guy who saw his star rocket to the top with Joe Burrow at LSU can redeem Allen and the rest of the Bills offense. He certainly couldn’t capture the same magic with the Carolina Panthers, where he was fired after less than two seasons as former coach Matt Rhule’s offensive coordinator, while was criticized inside that building as he seemed to be very happy with the job.
It will be interesting to see what McDermott asks of Brady where he relates to different layers of the quarterback position. He reiterated the idea of changing the energy around the offense with the change from Dorsey to Brady. He also mentioned some “tough love” aspects of Allen’s coaching while expecting more.
“[He’s] maybe not where we want to be,” McDermott said. “That’s natural based on some of the results we’ve had in his year – some of the results he’s had, some of the turnovers in particular. But I’m sure he’ll get it. I think again, with some of the new energy around our offense, my hope is — and my goal is — that he creates some confidence, clarity and ability to anticipate. [things] as opposed to, in some cases, responding[ing]. I think that’s part of playing the quarterback position.”
Taken in the larger context of where these Bills were supposed to be heading in Allen’s prime years, it’s at least a little concerning that McDermott is still talking about confidence and anticipation in the -quarterback position. These were signs that were meant to be worked out in the early years of Allen’s development, with Allen’s late 20s becoming part of the career he took with him and raised the level of other players.
Right now, this moment in time, Allen should be shaping the offense himself, with the Bills in the middle of their Super Bowl window. Instead, the quarterback is now on his third offensive coordinator since that dramatic playoff loss to the Chiefs, and the entire staff will be tasked with fixing Allen before they can take full advantage. of his roof again.
That is a harsh reality to face, and it leads all the way back to the loss of these Chiefs. The Bills and Allen are not quite right. And they haven’t been since 13 seconds changed the course of everything apparently.