How have the Buffalo Bills improved on offense in 2020?
Since drafting Josh Allen in 2018, the Bills have done a tremendous job putting talent around their young gunslinger. Significantly improving the offensive line was one of the first orders of business that has improved each season. One of those improvements includes the former Chiefs center, Mitch Morse.
In 2019, additions like Cole Beasley and John Brown were added to the receiving core through free agency. Buffalo continued to add players like tight end Dawson Knox and running back Devin Singletary through the 2019 NFL Draft. Additions to the wide receiver room continued in 2020 with the trade for Stefon Diggs and drafting Gabriel Davis.
Diggs has become one of the best receivers in the NFL through his savvy route running abilities. Bown complements Allen’s strengths as a vertical threat with his speed and tracking ability. Beasley and Davis work the underneath routes as crafty route runners, who benefit from the other weapons by getting weaker competition in coverage. Singletary has proven to be a serious receiving threat that will also have to be accounted for by the Chiefs defense regularly.
Allen has shown massive strides in the 2020 season in several areas of his game. His confidence has grown, and while there are still some lapses of judgment wanting to push the ball downfield instead of taking the check-down option, he has improved from a year ago. The offensive line has improved its protection for Allen, but what is noticeable is his willingness to elude pressure and keep his eyes downfield instead of taking off with the ball on the ground.
Through the first five games, Allen has increased his completion percentage more than ten percent in 2020 from 2019, and almost 17 percent from his rookie season. Most quarterbacks that improve in this category drastically have done it by dinking and dunking down the field. Allen has improved while increasing his average yards per pass attempt from 6.7 in 2019 to 8.4 in 2020.
The weapons surrounding Allen on offense help these stats. Having playmakers that can win at every level of the field and get open quickly is a testament to the play designs and the players’ abilities. Adding Diggs to the receiving core taking attention off other playmakers, and still getting open despite extra attention has helped take this offense to new heights.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has done an excellent job utilizing those weapons and putting together plays that match Allen’s strengths.
Bills align in an empty set with Diggs motioning from the backfield into the slot. Singletary motions behind Brown at the bottom of the screen in a stacked formation. Brown releases inside before working vertical, while Singletary works behind him to attempt to get easy separation with his defender working over the top of Brown.
The cornerback covering Brown is lined up with an outside shade, indicating he has help over the middle. With the defense stacking a safety over top of Diggs, it tells Allen that either the cornerback is blitzing or doubling up on the star receiver. Brown coming over the middle draws the deep safety down, allowing Diggs to cut across the field behind him with no additional deep defenders on that side of the field.
The offense consistently uses these types of rub routes to help get easy separation for the receivers.
Diggs is lined up on the boundary with Davis in the slot. The Raiders are aggressive off of the line of scrimmage to jam receivers before dropping into their zone coverages. Diggs releases inside to overlap with Davis, who is running a quick out. The purpose is to make it difficult for defenders to stay with their assignments and sort through the traffic. With the linebacker taking too long to take Diggs, it creates an opening at the top of the route.
With several receivers that possess great route running, the Bills offense takes advantage of that by spreading out defenses. Buffalo runs a high number of 10 personnel in their offense complimented by pre-snap motion and play action. Add in that Allen has played with more touch and velocity in 2020, this offense has turned into one of the best in the NFL.