Bills remove interim tag, promote Joe Brady to offensive coordinator


Staff member

The first major decision of the offseason has been made by Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott.

The team announced Sunday afternoon that the interim tag has been removed and Joe Brady will stay on the job as offensive coordinator. Brady, 34, took over as the interim offensive coordinator after the Bills fired Ken Dorsey in November. Including the postseason, the Bills went 7-2 with Brady calling the offensive plays.

The day after the season ended with a loss to the Chiefs in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, Bills quarterback Josh Allen gave Brady a vote of confidence.
“I would fully embrace it,” Allen said of Brady returning. “I love Joe. I love what he brings to this team, to our offense. The juice that he has, the passion he has for football. How much preparation — he’s put into a tough situation these last seven to eight weeks. Yeah, I would fully embrace that.“

The Bills fired Dorsey on Nov. 14, a day after a 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos dropped the Bills’ record to 5-5. Dorsey had served as the team’s offensive coordinator since Brian Daboll departed after the 2021 season to become the New York Giants’ head coach. Like Brady, Dorsey also served as Allen’s quarterbacks coach before taking over as offensive coordinator.

The Bills averaged 27.1 points and 377.9 yards per game under Brady, just incremental improvements from the 26.2 points and 370.1 yards per game the offense averaged under Dorsey. However, the offense seemed to be more in rhythm under Brady.

“I thought Joe did a really nice job coming in and building great communication, collaboration, a vibe with Josh,” McDermott said at his end-of-season news conference. “Then I think you saw the results of that through the course of, I believe it was six games.So I thought he did a very nice job in that regard.”

The Bills had a heavy focus on the run game after Brady took over. That included with Allen, who under Dorsey the first 10 games was running, on average, about five times a game. He averaged just 24.6 yards per game in the first 10 games — a low total for a quarterback who is such a weapon the ground. Brady took the shackles off and allowed Allen to run, and the quarterback responded by averaging 47.1 yards on 9.2 rushing attempts per game under Brady. Allen had 15 rushing touchdowns during the season and under Brady gained 43 first downs on the ground.

“We ran the ball extremely well, stuck to that,” Allen said. “I think got back to some simpler concepts. Did simple better with him.”
Allen wasn’t alone in giving Brady his backing.

“Joe Brady is our guy,” left tackle Dion Dawkins said. “He made this season fun down the stretch. He’s made it fun, and not to say anything about Dorsey. Dorsey, like, made it fun, too. But he has made this so much fun.With the amount of times that I get to pull and hit people ... we are calm, violent people, you know what I’m saying? So, the fact that he allows us to be violent in fun ways, I’m cool. He’s put Josh in a good position.He’s put (James) Cook in a great position, and our receivers, like, he’s put everybody in a position to win and we won with doing that. So, I think that he’ll be OK. I think that we’ll see him again.”

That’s not to say things were perfect under Brady. He wasn’t able to figure out a way to get No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs going, and that remains a big concern heading into 2024. As long as Allen is in prime, the Bills can, and should, remain a pass-first team. Allen’s completion percentage (from 70.3% to 62.4%) and yards per attempt (7.43 to 7.03) dipped considerably under Brady, which is another concern.

Attacking more down the field with Allen has to be a priority. That could involve adding another receiver, perhaps in the first round of the NFL draft, to take some of the pressure off Diggs.

Brady took over on a short week after a Monday night game, so it’s fair to think he has yet to really put his stamp on the offense.

“Didn’t have his entire touch and his entire flair on this system,” Allen said last week. “So I know if that’s the route that we went, there’d be a little bit of change in terms of systematically what we would be doing, which I’m hoping for, having some good talks with him. Just seeing what could be, it does get me excited.”

The Bills are also known to have interviewed Thad Lewis for the offensive coordinator job. In the end, though, they stuck with a known commodity.

“When you win, everyone — there’s a lot of energy,” Brady said days after taking over on an interim basis. “It starts at the top. I got to point the thumb at myself and not point fingers. I got to make sure that I bring the energy and I bring the juice and the guys are going to feed off me. I think that’ll trickle down to Josh and to the players. Without worrying about how the energy was or whatnot, it’s about ‘Hey, what can we do moving forward?’ and that all starts with me.”