Whether it was a lack of execution or play-calling that fluctuated from painfully conservative to strangely aggressive, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s only season with the Bills was tumultuous. The team parted ways with him Friday.
Here are five situations that had observers scratching their heads:
1. Against the Jets in Week 9, the Bills were trailing 7-0 in the first quarter. LeSean McCoy had gained 13 yards on a run that most running backs can't make to get the ball to midfield. The next two plays were Mike Tolbert runs — each for 1 yard. The Bills completed a five-yard pass on third down and then punted. It was among a number of baffling uses of Tolbert throughout the season.
2. Against the Chiefs in Week 12, the offense got the ball at its own 46-yard line, needing a first down to ice the victory. Three straight run plays resulted in a loss of 2 yards and the Bills punted the ball away with the score 16-10. Kansas City drove down to the Bills' 36-yard line on the ensuing drive before rookie cornerback Tre'Davious White put the game away with an interception.
3. Against the Patriots in Week 13, Dennison called for a fade pattern on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line, asking rookie receiver Zay Jones to beat New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore – and rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman to make the throw.
4. Against the Colts in Week 14, Dennison called for backup quarterback Joe Webb to throw out of the Wildcat formation on a fourth-and-3 play from Indianapolis 38-yard line. The pass intended for Charles Clay was short and landed incomplete. In that same game, Dennison also got uncharacteristically aggressive after the Colts’ tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, asking Webb to throw twice from the Bills’ 25-yard line with just over a minute left. The second of those passes was intercepted, setting Indianapolis up for a chance at a game-winning field goal that Adam Vinatieri missed wide left.
5. Against Jacksonville in last Sunday's AFC wild-card game, the Bills made a puzzling decision at the end of the first half. With a first-and-goal at the Jaguars’ 1-yard line, Taylor threw a fade route intended for receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The pass was incomplete, and Benjamin was penalized for offensive pass interference. If the call was a run, then Taylor shouldn’t have switched out of it. Coach Sean McDermott noted this week that was a play-call the Bills likely wanted to have back.