The Buffalo Bills need to get weird on offense. Instead, it looks like they are turning back to the Nathan Peterman experience this week, with news of Derek Anderson, who was out of football and playing golf a few weeks ago, being out.
Describing the current version of the Buffalo Bills’ offense as an abomination does not accurately capture it. They have scored 87 points in eight games (10.8), with 27 of those coming in the one surprising victory at Minnesota. They have managed to score 0, 3, 5, and 6 points in separate games, and are working on the “Bad Offense Straight” (Too bad you can’t score just one point in a game). They are going to challenge the 2009 Rams (175 points) for the fewest points in a season in the last decade, and if things go really poorly, could also get under the 2000 Browns (161) for fewest in the last twenty years.
The quarterbacks have thrown 13 interceptions and only 3 touchdown passes. The net yards per pass attempt, once we take out the sacks, is 4.4. Basically, the equivalent of a decent rushing attack, but with way more turnovers. Nathan Peterman, who will go out there against the Bears, has thrown 10 interceptions on 84 career pass attempts. When you add in the cost of his frequent turnovers with the lack of yards, an offense would be almost as productive just kneeling the ball every down.
Despite this, a lot of NFL coaches are cowards when it comes to change. But necessity has often been the mother of invention, and if Buffalo coaches are really doing their jobs this week, they are brainstorming ideas to do anything but run the current offense. We often hear about how coaches are up until 2 am and back in the office watching 6 am. Well, let’s see those ideas flow. Nothing is too crazy.
The Dolphins famously stunned the Patriots with the Wildcat back in Week 3 of 2008, coming off a 1-15 season and starting 0-2, and it swung the year. Back in 1978, a first-year coach in Kansas City named Marv Levy installed a Wing-T offense and ran the ball all the time, to protect what had been a porous defense. The Chiefs weren’t a contender and finished 4-12, but they didn’t just do the same old thing.
The Bills seemed to make a very half-hearted attempt to install some Wildcat, but it mainly looked like direct snapping to LeSean McCoy and telling him to run. The offense is limited by not only the quarterback play but the line and having a wide receiving group that is, well, a few Popeye’s biscuits away from being out of the league.
The team did just sign WR Terrelle Pryor yesterday, and this is where I remind you that Pryor did play as a QB before converting to wide receiver. His numbers, playing mainly in Oakland in 2013, weren’t good enough to remain a starter, but the Peterman alternative makes him look like an all-pro. Pryor averaged 6.6 yards per attempt, rushed for over 50 yards a game, and threw 11 interceptions in 272 pass attempts.
So maybe that Pryor signing is just to give an option at a position that needs someone besides Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones out there. But maybe the staff is already bringing in the seeds of getting weird. I would be installing packages where Pryor, and not Peterman, is playing QB, running the “wildcat” with jet sweep motion, and throwing off it.
In fact, I could make an argument that the Bills should go to a non-traditional spread option attack and ditch the offense altogether for this year, and start over next season. I know, coaches will whine that you can’t just change everything, but if they such things, I would make them re-watch every minute of Buffalo’s offense Clockwork Orange-style. Whatever you think of Josh Allen, trotting him out there when he gets healthy enough, in this offense, is not good for his development. There’s nothing to be gained.
So get weird, get creative, surprise the Bears this week, coaches.
Or, you know, just have Nathan Peterman throw some pick-sixes.