Some Interesting Comments on offense from former Bill Mckenzie (2023)

It’s not a matter of “moving on” from McKenzie. McKenzie took full ownership of his own inconstancy in grading himself a C+. (which seems pretty accurate)

What’s critical is his very astute analysis of why the Bills struggled in the Cincy game and it’s appliable to the offensive struggled that were apparent as last season progressed, despite the fact that the Bills lost only 3 regular season games (which I have repeatedly accurately pointed out were all mostly the fault of the OFFENSE).

Here are the pertinent passages of what he had to say….as detailed in Tyler Dunne’s (the guy that conducted the podcast) follow up article….

All eyes on Ken Dorsey's counterpunch

The events of Jan. 22 have befuddled locals for five months. A Buffalo Bills offense that did whatever it pleased for most of three years earned a home playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals and, with a trip to the AFC Championship Game at stake, here’s how the unit performed:

Seventeen incomplete passes.

Thirty-eight rushing yards from running backs.

Ten points.

Not the work of a juggernaut. It was strange. Exactly one year removed from an all-time fireworks display at Arrowhead Stadium in the same divisional round, scoring any points at all became an exercise in futility. Maybe the Bills were exhausted from a surreal season. The Tops shooting, two historic blizzards and Damar Hamlin nearly dying on the field unquestionably affected the team. PTSD could’ve lingered on the individual level. Still, several players have refused to cite the scary scene Jan. 2 in Cincy as The reason for their dud 20 days later. Captain Taiwan Jones

told us the Bills lacked urgency. “We were deer in the headlights,” he said. “We were all waiting for someone to make a play that never came.”

More than likely, there’s a tangible explanation.

And when it boils down to nitty-gritty details — What happened? — Isaiah McKenzie supplies a deeper explanation.

He agrees with Jones… explains why… and everything starts to make sense.

At first blush, it may sound silly.


our Happy Hour last week, McKenzie began by staring into the camera and saying: “I’ll tell you this: That snow had a lot to do with it.”

What McKenzie said….

"Josh has a cannon and that’s how he throws the football. Josh wants to sling the football. That was tough for him getting the balls in the right spots and receivers getting open because of the routes we run. And the Bengals ran simple routes. Maybe we should’ve done that. Ran basic routes. Out routes. Go balls. Instead of running routes where we have to be going lateral or coming back to the football or turning and running curls. Things like that.

That snow had a lot to do with it. If we were in a dome, it would’ve been a totally different game. Or if it was like the first Bengals game, it would’ve been a totally different game. Once we got down 14, everybody was kind of ‘Ahh."

Tyler gives his commentary…..

In retrospect, assuming a Dorsey offense would mimic a Daboll offense to a “T,” was foolish. Every coach will bring his own fresh ideas. As he should. Who doesn’t dream of calling plays, let alone one quarterbacked by Josh Allen?

This version was explosive, yet restless.

In theory, it makes sense. This is a big-play league. But the Bills became overly reliant on the deep ball. This scheme lost its rhythmic flow. Under Daboll, the Bills could string together drives of six-, and 11- and four- and 16-yard gains in their sleep. A cat toying with a mouse. This short passing game, fueled by Cole Beasley, was essentially the Bills’ rushing attack. Beasley gobbled up 100+ targets in three straight seasons, asserting himself as the best pure slot in the NFL in 2020.

Last summer, Buffalo moved on from the aging vet and staged a competition between McKenzie and Jameson Crowder for the job.

McKenzie was the victor.

The season did not go as planned.


The slot receiver in this offense wasn’t used like the slot in Daboll’s offense — a surprise to No. 6.

McKenzie expected to feast on option routes. Like Beasley. A common sight at training camp was McKenzie schooling younger receivers on how to react vs. man or zone on option routes. That is, run to the second level of a defense and turn left or right based on the coverage. He dominated camp himself.
Yet, on gamedays, McKenzie was more often told to run deep and clear routes up for Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.

What McKenzie said….

"It wasn’t the same offense from when Beasley was there to when I was there. It was more, ‘Isaiah, take the top off. Be a decoy. We’ll get you in where you fit in. I was like, ‘OK, that’s not really working for me. Because I’m just clearing the top off for Gabe.’ Every now and then, you’ll throw a ball deep here or there. But I’m not really getting this ball like Cole Beasley was. I’m not really running the option routes. I’m not really running the return routes. I’m not really running read routes. I’m not really running the plays that you guys had for Cole Beasley.

And I understand that we’re two different guys. Cole is quick and very lateral. I’m more vertical. But I felt like I could do those things. I just never got the opportunity. I probably got a chance here and there, but that’s not enough. Because you’ve got to let a guy go through their hiccups."

Tyler’s commentary continues….

He isn’t blameless. Perhaps the Bills were still worried about his fumbles seasons past and wanted to play the odds. Feeding McKenzie 100+ targets, in their calculation, might’ve increased the odds of turnovers. But it’s also true that Dorsey essentially siphoned the exclusive slot receiver out of the offense. Those layups weren’t emphasized. When the Bills did call option routes for an inside receiver, McKenzie added, Diggs took his spot and he was told to clear DBs with his speed.

Confusing after thinking he won the slot job in camp.

The Bills clearly lacked trust in him, and that was a theme. Running back Nyheim Hines, a true dual-threat in Indianapolis, had 13 touches in 11 games. Rookie James Cook averaged five carries per game despite averaging 5.7 yards per attempt. One could argue Buffalo had the talent to win the Super Bowl last season but the talent wasn’t used correctly.

What McKenzie said….

"I wasn’t the most consistent, but I felt like as things went on that I’d get better. If we were to call the plays differently and not try to take shots every time or give me the ball in different ways — underneath, over the top, in the backfield — it works. It worked in years past. But I can’t say it’s Buffalo’s fault. Some of it’s mine. Some of it’s playcalling. A little bit of everybody’s. But I felt like I was the guy who was going to get bounced around if anything. They felt like, ‘I can do this with Isaiah and he’s going to accept it,’ because that’s the type of guy I am. You’re going to bench me? OK, I’ve got to accept that. You’re not going to play me this game? OK, I’ve got to accept that. You want me to go out there and do this? OK, I’ve got to accept that. I had to accept whatever they wanted me to do and they thought, ‘He won’t mind. Let’s just get him out of here.’

I just do my job and whatever you see or whatever you don’t see, do what you want with it. I’m not going to sit here and beg you to give me more money or beg you to give me the ball or beg you to start running these types of plays or beg you to… I don’t know. I’m not a begger."

Tyler puts it in perspective….

The long ball is why Buffalo survived a scare in the wild card vs. Miami.

The next week, not so much.

Conversely, Joe Burrow completed passes to seven different receivers in the first quarter alone. Snow or not, death by a million papercuts typically trumps the knockout haymaker in the postseason. That’s why Tom Brady reached 14 conference championship games and won seven Super Bowls. Coverages tighten. Defensive coordinators dust off their best stuff. It pays to be patient underneath and then strike deep when the time’s right. Brady was always more Floyd Mayweather than Mike Tyson, methodically making opposing defenses pay for any schematic sin. No matter how minuscule. And whereas Joe Mixon ran for 105 yards, the Bills got nothing out of their ground game. Even pass-first operations need a rushing attack in their back pocket. Between Cook and Hines and Harris and Latavius Murray, the OC will have options in 2023.

And, of course, the Bills selected Kincaid as their new weapon in the middle of the field.


Kincaid and Dawson Knox should pose a major problem.

Harty is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL.

Diggs remains entrenched as the No. 1. Davis, the No. 2.

Weaponry is not the problem in Buffalo. There’s enough here to win a championship. Dorsey now must devise a way to maximize this all.

No, McKenzie is neither a “cry baby” nor is trying to shift blame. His truly blunt and very honest reflection of what is holding back the Bills contains critical insight and very intelligent observations...from the inside.

Yeah. The Bills have all the talent they need. They just have top use it is a way that maximizes it, while challenging defenses to try and stop it.

There is little doubt that the Bills were more one-dimensional under Dorsey than Daboll.

He seemed to be enthralled with Josh’s cannon arm and once defenses countered that scheme after the first six games or so, he just did not adjust enough.

They denied Hines many touches. They abandoned the short, safe pass game. Some of that is on Josh as he tends to ignore the easy “gimme” and instead goes for the big play jugular. The running game (outside of Josh) was barely a second thought.

If we can, and McKenzie can see this, there is little doubt that the Bills coaches and GM see it is well and are addressing all of the issues that plagued the Bills disappointed end to the season.

Every off season move has pointed in that direction. Now it’s a matter if Dorsey (and McDermott) can take advantage of the talent that is assembled.

They have all the pieces they need to be a Championship team, THIS year.

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