Joe Brady built a strong case, but Bills need to conduct thorough offensive coordinator search


Staff member

Joe Brady built a compelling case to have the interim tag removed and become the Buffalo Bills’ permanent offensive coordinator.
But is it a slam dunk?

That’s what head coach Sean McDermott has to decide. It’s one of the biggest decisions McDermott faces as the Bills begin the long process of preparing for the 2024 season, and as such, he needs to take the time to get it right.

Even if the Bills are prepared to promote Brady, they can’t do it just yet. NFL rules require teams with an opening at offensive or defensive coordinator to interview at least two minority candidates who come from outside of the organization to satisfy requirements of the Rooney rule.

Brady, for what it’s worth, officially interviewed for the job Thursday, according to multiple reports.

“Every coach is an important hire, but no doubt the guy who’s leading your offense and especially with Sean (McDermott) being a defensive head coach – it is a very important hire,” Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said. “Definitely have already started before this, conversations, as I said, internally about that. We’ve got to make sure it’s right. You don’t want to have to make a midseason change like we did this time. So, you’re always learning, you’re always listening. We’ll do our due diligence here.”

Brady should be considered the favorite for the position, if for no other reason than quarterback Josh Allen gave him a vote of confidence Monday, the day after the Bills were eliminated in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs by the Kansas City Chiefs.

“We don’t care what Josh thinks,” Beane said. “Make sure he knows that, too.”

Good one. Beane couldn’t get through his delivery without a wry smile. Cleary, Allen’s opinion carries a lot of weight at One Bills Drive – as it should.

“It’s big. You got to have the buy-in from your franchise quarterback,” McDermott said of Allen’s opinion. “Certainly, at the end of the day, it’ll be my decision but yeah, I respect Josh’s opinion, I respect his position on it and it does factor into the overall equation.”

That’s completely reasonable. Remember, though, that Allen also lobbied for Ken Dorsey to get the job after Brian Daboll left following the 2021 season. Like Brady, Dorsey previously worked as Allen’s quarterbacks coach before being promoted. That speaks to the relationship both coaches formed with Allen, but also to the quarterback’s loyalty. That’s one of the traits his teammates and coaches adore about him, but in this case, that might not be such a good thing. There is a familiarity Allen had with Dorsey and has with Brady. It’s understandable that there might be some apprehension on Allen’s part about working with a new play-caller, but through no fault of his own, the quarterback doesn’t know who’s out there. Allen has been busy doing everything he can to will the Bills to victories, not forming a short list of potential new offensive coordinators.

The Bills are walking a bit of a tightrope here. Keeping Allen satisfied has to be a top priority, but that shouldn’t just mean giving Brady the job because the quarterback likes him.

That’s where McDermott, Beane and team owner Terry Pegula come in. They should leave no stone unturned in searching for the best possible offensive coordinator for their unicorn of a quarterback – while at the same time keeping Allen up to speed on any developments in their search.

“That’ll happen in due time with respect to what we do with that position,” McDermott said. “Evaluating that position as well as others, it’s natural this time of year. I thought Joe did a really nice job coming in and building great communication, collaboration, a vibe with Josh. Then I think you saw the results of that through the course of, I believe it was six games, and so I thought he did a very nice job in that regard.”

Communication between Brady and Allen was by all accounts strong, as it was with the rest of the offense, for that matter. The quarterback wasn’t alone in offering Brady an endorsement at the end of the season.

Brady took over after Dorsey was fired following Buffalo’s Week 10 loss to the Broncos that dropped the Bills to 5-5. At the time, the offense ranked seventh in the NFL in yards per game (370.1), 13th in rushing yards per game (115.2), seventh in passing yards per game (253.6), second in third-down conversions and eighth in points per game (26.2).

“It wasn’t, honestly, a decision I wanted to make, in terms of there’s someone’s livelihood at stake, and their family, and people I care deeply about, like I do my entire staff,” McDermott said. “My job is to do what is best for the team. And that’s what I felt I needed to do that was best for the team, and so that’s what I did.”

Under Brady, the Bills generally improved on those numbers. The offense finished the regular season fourth in yards per game (374.5), seventh in rushing (130.1 yards per game), eighth in passing (244.4 yards per game), first in third-down conversions (49.77%), and fifth in points per game (26.5). There were some concerning aspects, too. Stefon Diggs’ production as the team’s No. 1 receiver really plummeted, for example.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the offenses of Dorsey and Brady that can be tracked by numbers is giveaways. The Bills made an NFL-high 18 giveaways the first 10 games. They made just 10 over the next nine games. That’s part of the reason the offense felt more in sync.

“I thought Joe did a really good job,” Beane said. “Midseason, that’s kind of hard to do … I think Joe did a really good job and deserves serious consideration for this job.”

That he does, but at the same time, the Bills owe it to themselves to conduct a thorough search. If it lands on Brady as the best man for the job, so be it. And if not, the new man on the job should know that priority No. 1 is winning over his franchise quarterback.

The one big negative against Grady was incorporating Diggs into the offense more. Scheming to gert him open more often, which may have been affected by the depleted/unskilled WR group. Davis out, Sherfiled- terrible meant more attention to Diggs by opposing Defenses