It took three games, but offensive coordinator Brian Daboll finally found his rhythm in the passing game Sunday in Minnesota.
The final statistics sheet shows the Bills ran 38 times and passed 25 in the 27-6 upset of the Vikings.
It’s misleading. The passing game got the Bills’ offense going in the first half. That will have to continue, because defenses are going to stack up against the run, especially on first down, against a rookie quarterback.
In building a 24-0 lead, Daboll called 17 pass plays and eight runs over the first four possessions.
The pass plays netted 148 yards. Josh Allen was 8 of 12 for 123 yards with one TD and a sack in the first four drives. He also scrambled three times for 22 yards.
The Bills passed on each of their first four first-down plays, and Allen went 4 for 4 for 34 yards.
Credit Daboll with getting his rookie QB in early rhythm. Allen was 7 of 8 for 44 yards on passes behind the line of scrimmage. The first pass was a receiver screen to Ray-Ray McCloud. There was a nifty delayed screen to Charles Clay. The TD pass to tight end Jason Croom was a schemed play to get slot corner Mike Hughes to bite on a fake screen.
Contrast that with the first two games.
In Baltimore, the Bills’ 17 first-half pass plays netted 14 yards, with three sacks and an interception.
Against the Chargers, 18 first-half pass plays netted 107 yards with three sacks.
Overall in Minnesota, 24 first-half pass plays netted 195 yards, or 8.1-yards a play. That does not count the 12-yard loss the Bills took on a shovel-pass for Marcus Murphy that was ruled an aborted run after video review. (It should have been an incomplete pass).
Allen’s scrambling might give opponents some pause on their blitzing approach. The QB was 4 of 6 for 32 yards against the blitz, with two scrambles for 18 yards.
“With blitzes and stuff like that, there is always a hole somewhere,” said Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly. “So, we try to get to the quarterback before he is able to see those, and get him to throw the ball away, and get pressure on him.”
Pass to open up the run. It worked in Minnesota. It’s going to have to keep working.
Below is a good example of Allen standing in the pocket against a delayed blitz and delivering the ball with accuracy – good to see.