If you’re to believe the Buffalo Bills media, the duo of Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett work very hard. Stories like “the coaching staff sleeping at One Bills Drive the night before the Chiefs game,” definitely read less like journalism, and more like PR for the beleaguered offensive coaches. What better way to distract from the facts (the offense is at the bottom of traditional and advanced stat rankings) than to plant some stories that invoke images of hard work–the kind a blue collar town like Buffalo could relate to.
Although I’m dubious of the journalistic merits of that story, I am in no way implying the twosome don’t work hard enough. If anything, Marrone and Hackett have worked themselves too hard–trying to justify themselves as leaders of an NFL calibre offense. Their insecurities are obvious, if you consider their handling of the Bills red zone offense. In lieu of throwing it up against a mismatch, the Bills prefer timing based back-shoulder throws based on pre-snap reads. All that hard work has overcomplicated things.
Nowhere is the offensive coaching staff’s overcompensation more clear than in the handling of red zone savant Mike Williams. Just watch the video above. Williams makes countless plays using his athleticism. Sure, it doesn’t look like he runs sophisticated routes–I don’t recall a single back-shoulder catch in the highlight package–but it works for him. Watch Williams at 3:25. Williams runs a simple corner route, and just straight up, out muscles his defender for a first down. That’s some force majeure type shit.
Unfortunately for Williams, being a freak of nature isn’t good enough for the Bills sophisticated offense. Kyle Orton prefers the vanilla* Chris Hogan, who he says, “runs good routes.” Orton, a beneficiary of Hackett’s offense–which was too complicated for EJ Manuel to run–has to choose the best guys to deploy. It’s only fair. A complicated system requires adept route runners. And, the strategy worked well in the weather controlled confines of Ford Field on Monday.
The problem is, when the complicated back shoulder throws don’t work, and nor do the small window throws, the Bills wind up losing to the Chiefs at The Ralph–the wind and temperature will do that to a journeyman like Orton. Considering the Bills play 2 of their next 5 games at The Ralph, as well as games on the road against the Broncos and the Patriots, Orton will be playing in conditions that differ greatly from those found at Ford Field.
So here comes Mike Williams to save the day, right? Instead of failing to generate enough velocity in harsh winds to complete a pass into triple coverage, Orton can throw it up to Mike Williams and just let him force majeure that shit. This shit’s real simple.
But I’m not holding my breath.
Figuring out a play that easy wouldn’t require a sleepover.
*Vanilla, as in plain.