Bills hope simplified offense provides boost
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — When it comes to the Buffalo Bills’ offense, running back LeSean McCoy said simpler might be better.
The Bills are hoping a more streamlined approach under new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will turn things around after a 0-2 start to the season. Lynn replaced former offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who was fired on Friday.
The first thing the Bills have done under Lynn is simplify the offense in an effort to make things less complicated on the field.
“Coach Roman’s a very intelligent coach. If everybody can’t grasp the offense the right way ... then it won’t be effective,” McCoy said. “So we simplified the offense to make it easier for guys to go out there and play.”
The Bills are in need of a jolt after sputtering out of the gate to start the season.
Despite the presence of playmakers such as McCoy and Sammy Watkins, the Bills rank 30th in the league in offense through two games (276.5 yards per game). They’re also in a three-way tie for 22nd in points per game (19).
The Bills had just 160 yards in a Week 1 loss to Baltimore, which was their lowest offensive output in a decade and their lowest in a season opener since 1979.
Things were slightly better in Week 2 against the New York Jets when Buffalo put up 31 points, but production remained sporadic; Buffalo shined on just a handful of big plays and boosted its stats with the game out of reach.
Scaling back the playbook appears to be the first step for Buffalo. McCoy suggested that the Bills are cutting their playbook in half under Lynn.
“Less plays, less thinking,” McCoy said. “You go from the average of, what, 70-80 plays in a football game and you have 80-90 plays that can go. It’s harder compared to something that’s shorter, 30-40 plays in an 80-play game. So that’s probably just the difference.”
“We’re taking some of the volume out and letting guys go out there and play,” quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. “That’s definitely something we want to put our focus on.”
The other big change under Lynn will be play-calling. Buffalo does not have enough time to make wholesale changes — such as the type of plays being run or the terms used on offense — but will have a fresh set of eyes at the helm.
“We’ve been installing plays since we’ve been together in April and we’ve had a ton installed and now we’re just picking and choosing them differently,” guard Richie Incognito said.
“You go grocery shopping, it’s full of stuff. It’s what you put in the shopping cart and go to check out with. So that’s where we’re at.”
No matter who is in charge of the offense, the Bills need more from their starting quarterback.
Taylor has been unable to build off a breakout season. Last season, Taylor was sharp with his decision-making and made plays.
This season, he’s been hesitant in the pocket, inaccurate as a passer and unable to keep the Bills offense on the field. Buffalo is 29th in third-down conversions, having made just 6 of 23 attempts (26 percent).
“We want to be accurate with the football,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “We’ve seen him be accurate with the football. We’ve got to play with more consistency. You’re right, we’ve got guys open, we’ve got to get them the football.”
It won’t be easy on Sunday. The Bills are going up against one of the best teams in the league in the Arizona Cardinals (1-1), and they may have to do it short-handed.
Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle) missed last week’s game against the Jets and did not practice on Wednesday.
Receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) was held out of Wednesday’s practice and has been dealing with foot pain following offseason surgery; Watkins did play in each of Buffalo’s first two games.
“I just want to see us have success,” Incognito said. “I know how much talent we have.”
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