Make no mistake: The Buffalo Bills made the playoffs in 2017 in spite of their offense. Not because of it.
Since division realignment in 2002, only four teams made the playoffs while averaging fewer yards per play than the 2017 Bills (4.79), and only five teams got in while scoring fewer points (18.9 per game). We could continue going through similar stats in most other offensive categories, but you get the picture.
So it didn't come as much of a surprise Friday when the Bills fired offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who directed the Bills' offense – the Bills'! – to its fewest passing yards since 2009, the year that featured Brian Brohm's first career start. Jay Skurski compiled a list of five times Dennison made Bills fans scratch their heads.
Dennision did have to work with Tyrod Taylor's limited aerial attack, but... "Still, he was a mediocrity as a coordinator, a man who took a limited but functional offense and made it worse," Jerry Sullivan wrote. "His firing on Friday was as warranted as it was unsurprising. The Bills can and must do better."
Who will be the new OC? Colts OC Rob Chudzinski and ex-Panthers OC Mike Shula are among the favorites for the job. But one thing we do know is it won't be Mike McCoy, who was reportedly McDermott's first choice last year.
Social media reacts to OC Rick Dennison's firing: I'm partial to the gif of the animal smashing a square peg into a round hole. Speaking of...
Tyrod's splits by coordinator: Perhaps not surprisingly, Tyrod Taylor had the worst stats under Dennison, who seemed unwilling to change the offense to suit Taylor's strengths. Taylor did the best under Greg Roman, who was more willing to do so.
Free agent Mike Tolbert could have interest in returning to the Panthers: Aw, shucks, really? Well, if you've made up your mind, I guess they're not changing it now. Does anyone have some boxes? ... All jokes aside, Mike Tolbert is a stand-up guy and quality locker-room presence who caught a bad rap with Bills fans this year because he was misused by coaches (see Dennison, Rick). Tolbert was used in several strange situations as if he was a dynamic NFL running back when in reality he's a 32-year-old fullback and short-yardage runner who can step in at running back in a pinch. I feel like Bills fans could learn to love Tolbert in a role more suited to his skillset.
Is an overhaul at linebacker on the way? With question marks surrounding the Bills' linebacking corps, it seems like an overhaul could be on the way. Preston Brown and Ramon Humber will be free agents and Lorenzo Alexander could be pushed to a more limited role if he returns to the team. With only Matt Milano back for sure, linebacker could be next in line for Extreme Makeover, Bills Edition after the secondary appeared on McDermott's inaugural episode last year.
Sully's mailbag: Jerry Sullivan was asked if this year's Bills were a "success." Certainly, he said, though they still have a lot to prove. Otherwise, "this playoff run will seem like a happy confluence of lucky events."
Speaking of good luck: The Bills stayed remarkably healthy this year, a News analysis found.