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Firing of Ken Dorsey raises question of hits to Josh Allen's swagger


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Tuesday’s firing of Ken Dorsey as Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator was another blow in what has been a difficult season for Josh Allen.

The Bills’ quarterback acknowledged it Wednesday.

“Obviously, not a set of circumstances you want to be in, especially during the middle of the season,” Allen told reporters after the Bills’ walkthrough practice in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the New York Jets.

“I love Dorsey as a human being. He’s one of the good ones,” Allen said. “He’s been in this room with me for a very long time. I feel like I owe him a lot of the success that I’ve had in my career, and he’s been a huge part of that, so it’s sad to see him go.”

Dorsey had coached Allen since the start of the 2018 season. Allen was strongly in favor of Dorsey taking over as the offensive coordinator in January 2022, when Brian Daboll left Buffalo to become New York Giants head coach. Allen defended Dorsey at every turn the past two seasons.

So, it is obvious that Allen feels he let Dorsey down by making eight turnovers in the last six games, four of which the Bills have lost. Asked if Dorsey would still be coaching if Allen had played better, the QB said:

“Without a doubt, and I take that very personally,” Allen said. “It hurts a lot to see someone you care about go through a situation like that, and to know that if I could have done more, if this offense could have done more, we wouldn’t have had to do something like that.”

The key questions for Allen now are: Can interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady make a difference as a play-caller? And can Allen get some of his swagger back after throwing interceptions in six straight games?

Allen wasn’t trying to blow smoke about the former question. Let’s face it, Brady has been right by Allen and Dorsey’s side every step of the way this season.

Brady was offensive coordinator for a far less talented collection of offensive players in Carolina in 2020 and 2021. He was fired with five games to go in the ’21 season.

Asked how much of a difference a change in the play-caller can make, Allen said: “I honestly don’t know. I haven’t been in a situation like this. The crazy thing, Joe was that guy two years ago where he was, so he understands both sides of it. So again, we just got to rally around each other right now, we have to come together as a team, and offensively we’ve got to play better football.”

Asked about the way Brady has helped him most, Allen said: “In terms of just how I prepare. He’s an extremely hard worker, he’s always in the building, first one in, last one out. I doubt he got any sleep last night, obviously kind of being thrown into a role like this. And it’s not a congratulations move. He’s in there because we didn’t do our jobs, and now we’re, like I said, backs against the wall and he’s ready to go in, he’s prepared and you know, we got to follow his lead and make sure that we have his back.”

A great quarterback needs to have a big ego. He needs to have supreme self-belief because the world-class athletes on NFL defenses are going to make you look bad on occasion.

The state of Allen’s swagger seems as though it is a concern right now.

When you throw an interception on the first pass of the game (like Allen did in New England), or the 10th pass of the game (like he did in Cincinnati) or the sixth pass of the game (like he did vs. Denver, even though it wasn’t his fault), that will give your swagger a hit.

Asked about his confidence in the offense and how he’s playing, Allen was honest.

“Well, one, I’ve got to be better,” he said. “We’ve got to be better as an offense. Turnover-wise, it’s abysmal when we lose and there’s no secret to that. ... It’s not like it’s broken. We’re not a broken offense, we’re not a broken team. But the splits compared to when we win and when we lose are massive. Again, that’s on my shoulders. We’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better.”

Allen last month revealed he has adopted a new mental approach to try to process his job on the field better.

“Just trying to stay in this state called ‘low positive,’ where your energy is not super high, and you’re allowing your mind to think and be free and just stay on top of everything,” he said before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Because, obviously, as the quarterback, there is a lot of things going through our mind. So, if I can limit myself and my energy and my heart rate, I felt like I can, maybe, think a little bit more – but who knows, maybe I need to think a little bit less and just play football.”

Maybe it is a function of throwing interceptions. But Allen was asked about his seeming lack of swagger of late:

“I think we all evolve as human beings,” he said. “We all evolve as players in this league. Just trying to be the guy that I feel is necessary to be to lead this team. I’m just trying to be myself. Sometimes it calls for that (overt shows of emotion). Sometimes it doesn’t. So I’m not quite sure.”

How does Allen not let the self-imposed pressure weigh too heavily on him?

“You rely on the guys in this locker room,” he said. “You lean on each other. It’s how you get back up from being knocked down.”

Center Mitch Morse said he is not worried about Allen’s confidence.

“Listen, Josh is extremely competitive and holds himself to a high standard,” Morse said. “For us, it’s not a guy you need to hold his hand or say anything in a certain way. He is an extreme competitor. I think it’s just a subtle thing, guys just telling the guy we’ve got his back implicitly, emphatically.”

The Bills can only hope Brady can make Allen’s job just a little bit easier the next two months

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

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