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Bills Mailbag: How much change should be expected with Ken Dorsey at offensive coordinator?

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Buffalo Bills Rookie Mini Camp (copy)

New Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was Josh Allen's No. 1 pick for the job.

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There was actual football activity taking place at One Bills Drive this weekend for the first time since January.

There are several mileposts on the road to a new NFL season, and one is rookie minicamp. With free agency and the draft done, the Bills’ roster is close to full heading into spring practices. With that, let’s get to your questions for this week’s Bills Mailbag …

Brian Burns asks: Importance of quarterbacks coach relationship with the quarterback doesn’t get talked about enough in the NFL. What’s a realistic view of the change in offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach? Ken Dorsey’s responsibility has increased and his time with the quarterback will decrease.

Jay: Josh Allen made it crystal clear at his end-of-season news conference that he was a big fan of Dorsey, lobbying for him to get promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, should Brian Daboll leave for a head coaching job, which turned out to be the case. Wisely, the Bills listened to their star quarterback. Allen is the most important person in the Bills’ organization, and keeping him happy with a new offensive coordinator he’s comfortable with needed to be the first priority. The Bills accomplished that. I still expect Allen and Dorsey to spend plenty of time together, but to your point, Brian, it might not be quite as much as last season. The addition of Joe Brady as the quarterbacks coach is one of the more intriguing moves of the offseason. Brady and Allen haven’t had all that much time to work together, but the quarterback has spoken glowingly about his new position coach to this point. Brady, who is just 32 years old, has had an interesting career. He was thought to be the next big thing when he was hired as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator in 2020, but didn’t even make it two full years in that job. He likely has higher aspirations than being a position coach, so working with Allen is a good move on his part. The Bills’ quarterback is a career maker. That’s why all the talk of Dorsey following Daboll to be the offensive coordinator with the Giants – a job in which he might not even have called the offensive plays had Daboll decided to keep that responsibility – seemed so ridiculous. It would be crazy for anyone to turn down being Allen’s offensive coordinator, especially Dorsey, given that he’s never called plays at the NFL level. Stick with Allen, have him lead an offense that puts up 30 points per game the next couple of seasons, then answer the phone when it’s your turn to interview for head-coaching gigs. That leads us to the next question …

Matthew Burger asks: Biggest obstacle Ken Dorsey has taking over an offense as good as this one has been and what type of spin, in your opinion, do you think he needs to put on the offense to make it even better?

Jay: Dorsey’s biggest challenge, in my mind, will be to avoid trying to go out of his way to “put his own spin” on the Bills’ offense. Don’t fix what’s not broken. Sure, there will be plays here and there that Dorsey favors, but it’s not as if some big overhaul is needed. That’s where the previous relationship between Dorsey and Allen comes into play. Dorsey already has an idea of what the quarterback likes (and what he doesn’t). Because of that, there should be minimal growing pains in the transition from Daboll to Dorsey. The optimistic view of any coaching change is that it will infuse new ideas into the system. That’s something Sean McDermott has mentioned this offseason, because there was a lot more coaching turnover this offseason as compared to a year ago, when there was basically none. Two things Dorsey might look to do more of than Daboll did is utilize two tight ends at the same time – which explains the O.J. Howard signing – and throw more to the running backs out of the backfield – which explains drafting James Cook in the second round.

Ben Schiavone asks: Which undrafted rookie free agent has the best shot at sticking around on the team, or the practice squad?

Jay: Given that they’re going through rookie minicamp this weekend, it’s awfully premature to answer this question based on anything that’s happened on the field. Instead, it’s best to look at the roster and trying to determine what areas have questionable depth. When doing that, Texas A&M tight end Jalen Wydermyer becomes my pick. The Bills’ top two jobs at tight end will go to Dawson Knox and O.J. Howard, but if the coaching staff wants to keep a third player at the position, that job looks to be there for the taking. Tommy Sweeney would be the favorite, given that he spent all of last season on the active roster, but Sweeney was a heathy inactive by the end of last season. It’s conceivable he could be beaten out for a job. Given the Bills’ depth, it would be a big surprise if any rookie undrafted free agent made the 53-man roster, but the practice squad is a legitimate possibility for any of the undrafted free agents who have signed. That should be their goal.

Ryan Turnbull asks: Do you see a free agent out there who the Bills should still sign?

Jay: James Bradberry was recently released by the Giants after General Manager Joe Schoen was unable to find a trade partner. Given McDermott’s and Beane’s connection to Bradberry from their time together in Carolina, that fit seems logical. However, Bradberry might be looking for more money than the cap-strapped Bills are able to offer. What about a homecoming for Akron’s J.C. Tretter? He’s still a free agent after being released by Cleveland and would provide quality depth on the interior of the offensive line. Tretter, too, might be out of the Bills’ price range, but perhaps a chance to play at home for a Super Bowl contender might intrigue him. There are also several veteran wide receivers still on the market, including Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and Will Fuller. If the Bills want to add veteran depth at that position, Fuller might be worth a chance on. He doesn’t figure to be as expensive as Jones or Beckham will be.

Ron M. asks: There’s often one surprise cut. With a pretty solid roster and good competition, one would expect to see one of those cuts or releases this summer. Who do you see as that potential player?

Jay: This is always a tough question to answer, because it’s hard to find that exact sweet spot of “surprised, but not shocked.” The first player that came to mind was Isaiah McKenzie. I know the Bills re-signed him to a two-year contract, but they also signed a veteran slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, and added a rookie in the fifth round, Boise State’s Khalil Shakir, who many did not think would be available at that time. The Bills also have Marquez Stevenson returning after his rookie season was shortened by injury. McKenzie might not qualify as a “surprise,” though, so I’ll go with one I don’t expect, but would certainly be surprised by: Jordan Poyer. We all know he’s asked for a new deal, and as he enters the final year of his contract, the Bills probably want to avoid any type of distractions as much as possible. Had the team taken a safety in the early rounds of the draft, that would have increased this possibility. Still, they have a couple of young players – Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin – who have been around and know the system. Perhaps they feel like one of them is ready for the job, which would allow them to rip the Band-Aid off the Poyer situation entirely while also saving some money against the salary cap. Again, it’s unlikely, but we have to go out on a bit of a limb when answering this question.

Lance from Lancaster asks: Just watching the mock draft, can you explain your opinion on the running backs? What is there not to love about James Cook in Buffalo?

Jay: I’m not entirely sure I follow the question, but here goes: The criticism of the Cook pick, if you’re looking for one, is that he’s a part-time player, at best. Nobody expects him to become a featured running back in the NFL. For the Bills’ purposes, he doesn’t have to be, but when you draft a player in the second round, there is at least a reasonable expectation that he develops into a starter. Cook might never end up being that, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable contributor, as soon as his rookie season. As for the mock draft, I’ll admit when I’m wrong, which I was often this year. It was a tough season to predict which way teams would go. I had the Bills taking Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. in the first round. So, the position was right, but not the player. Cornerback was the logical choice for the Bills in the first round.

Ron Garbe asks: Thoughts on the team still going out and getting a veteran cornerback, based on the question marks regarding Tre White’s return?

Jay: It’s a good idea, although there isn’t a big rush. Beane might even want to get to training camp to see where White is in his recovery. If, at that time, it doesn’t appear like he’ll be ready for the beginning of the season, Beane can make a move. Joe Haden is a veteran who has been linked to the Bills most of the offseason. Von Miller even said he’s been recruiting Haden. Cornerback is a position that has had questionable depth in the past, and with White’s status uncertain, it would be a good idea for Beane to give the coaching staff another option.

Ed Helinski asks: Overall so far, how do you like the offseason moves and draft choices made by the Bills?

Jay: I have no complaints. The contract for Miller comes with some risk, especially at his age (33). I can understand why Beane decided that risk was worth it, though, because the team was not happy with the consistency of its four-man pass rush last season. There is also some risk involved with paying wide receiver Stefon Diggs as the team did. It’s clear he has great chemistry with Allen, but Diggs turns 29 in November, and receivers don’t always age as well as pass rushers. Those are minor complaints right now, although if the moves don’t work out they could turn into major ones.

As for the draft, I’ve learned it’s a mistake to issue any kind of grade right after the fact. Admission time: I thought the Bills would take Josh Rosen over Allen. Instead, I'll say this on the draft – it made sense. Cornerback was the No. 1 need, and Beane wasted little time filling it. A pass-catching running back was clearly a priority. The addition of Shakir in the fifth round looks to be a good one. Heck, even the punter filled a need. We have to see how each of these picks performs, but on paper, they're all logical selections.

Louis Stromberg asks: With minicamp underway, please go ahead and rank the following minis: Mini Me, "Minions," mini golf, Dominique Wilkins, condominiums. Thanks and Go Bills!

Jay: Thank you, Louis, for the question. Having you back in the mailbag just feels … right. Here we go: 5. "Minions." Never saw it, but did go on the ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. It was fine. 4. Condominiums. Just the word reminds me of the "Seinfeld" “Del Boca Vista” episode. 3. Mini Me. Rest in peace to Verne Troyer. What a legend. 2. Dominique Wilkins. “The Human Highlight Film” was a great nickname. 1. Mini-golf. Given my son’s love of all things mini-golf, this was an easy No. 1. Thank you for all the questions this week. As a reminder, they can be submitted via Twitter, @JaySkurski, or by email to jskurski@buffnews.com.

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News Sports Reporter

I started at The Buffalo News in 2009, and have previously been honored as one of the top 10 beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors for my coverage of the Bills. I live in Amherst with my wife, Melissa, and son, Elliott.

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