Carucci Take 2 Bills Mailbag: Ken Dorsey’s impact on already-explosive Bills offense will command greatest scrutiny

WGRZ Bills/NFL Insider Vic Carucci takes your questions as the Bills continue with offseason workouts.

ORCHARD PARK, NY — You’ve got Buffalo Bills questions. I’ve got answers. Let’s do this.

Tefaha: How do you think the offense will evolve under new OC Ken Dorsey?

Vic Carucci: Overall, I expect the offense to continue to be explosive because there’s too much talent, beginning with Josh Allen and his receivers, for that not to be the case.

Of course, there’s something to be said for having a new offensive coordinator, and like it or not, his role will command the greatest scrutiny entering the season. It’s more than fair to say Dorsey is filling some pretty big shoes that Brian Daboll left behind to become head coach of the New York Giants. I expect there will be some noticeable hiccups, simply because Dorsey is likely to need some time to find his way.

Obviously, his greatest challenge will be overcoming his lack of experience calling plays. Offseason and training camp practices, and preseason games will give him opportunities to handle this new coaching task, but nothing will replicate doing so in a game that counts. His close personal and professional relationship with Josh Allen is helpful because he already has plenty of insights into the plays the quarterback likes and doesn’t like, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of his game. (And, yes, as great as Allen has played the past two seasons, he really does have shortcomings in his game that opposing defensive coordinators look to expose).

However, practices are limited in their scope and intensity, and don’t consistently create an environment where the play-caller feels the sort of urgency that he experiences in a game when the stakes are so much higher and there is less familiarity with what the defense is bringing his way. Dorsey also is working with multiple quarterbacks in practices, and won’t have much time with Allen during the QB’s limited preseason appearances. Plus, with minimal game-planning for preseason games, there are few, if any, chances for genuine matching of strategic wits.

It was interesting to hear Dorsey tell reporters earlier in the week that he was undecided about whether to work from the sidelines, where he had been as quarterbacks coach, or upstairs in the coaching booth. That tells me that at least a part of him believes it would be more beneficial to maintain more direct, face-to-face conversations with Allen between plays. Perhaps it’s reflective of a comfort zone he believes he needs, or Allen needs, or both.

It also was interesting to hear players mention, at least half-kiddingly, that Dorsey should be upstairs because of his highly emotional demeanor during games. If that’s so, it’s something he must do a better job of controlling because it’s imperative a play-caller stays poised and clearly focused throughout the game, regardless of his location. It’s reasonable to assume a play-caller can’t allow anything, including his emotions, to become a distraction.

Also, Dorsey will need to get used to being the overseer of the entire offense rather than just the quarterback position. He will have to condition himself to see a larger picture and excel at communication his big-picture vision to all offensive players and position coaches. That might take a little time.

unknown: How much do you think we will utilize James Cook this year?

CV: Cook’s much-hyped receiving skills have naturally created high expectations of him immediately adding another dynamic element to an offense that’s hardly lacking in that department. I’m not sure that’s all that realistic.

Sure, Allen could always use another quality pass-catcher, especially one who could take advantage of coverage mismatches with linebackers generally having the chore of dealing with James out of the backfield. Still, I think the core aspects of the offense, with game-breaking outside targets in Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, are going to carry the largest load of the passing game. I could see James being sprinkled into passing-game mix, at least initially, and perhaps see greater involvement as the season progresses and he moves closer to the front of the learning curve.

I’m not anticipating him taking a whole lot of carries away from Devin Singletary or even Zack Moss. James strikes me as more of a specialty player, and the biggest weakness of his game – picking up blitzers – is going to further limit his time on the field.

Ed Helinsky: What’s your thoughts about the new look Bills defensive line? It’s been quite the makeover so far, to say the least.

CV: I like it. Start with Von Miller, who should have at least two highly effective seasons left in his 33-year-old body. I expect him to set the tone for the entire unit on and off the field, something he already is doing (especially with younger teammates) during OTAs. I also anticipate that Miller will be a pass-rushing force, not only with his own ability to get after the quarterback but also by drawing extra blocking attention that will free up others.

Speaking of the others, Ed Oliver seems poised to have his best NFL season and should benefit not only from Miller occupying blockers but also from his knowledge and wisdom. I expect Jordan Phillips to perform at or at least close to the high level he displayed before leaving the Bills for Arizona two years ago. And if Shaq Lawson is at least solid, that should be good enough to help with the line’s overall improvement.

To Ali: What are the Bills’ long-term plans with Tremaine Edmunds, and how do you see the Jordan Poyer contract situation playing out?

CV: This is hardly a bulletin, but it’s a make-or-break season for Edmunds. He needs to be a consistent difference-maker in all phases. The occasional mediocrity that has dotted most of his career won’t cut it. If that’s still the case this season, the Bills need to move on from him.

I fully anticipate the Bills and Poyer to reach an agreement on a contract extension, probably at some point during training camp. The team recognizes he’s far too valuable to leave him with any feelings of uncertainty about his future in Buffalo.

Michael Reichmuth: Are we forgetting about Marquez Stevenson and Isaiah Hodgins making a possible impact this year or are they both on outside now and need major push to even make the roster?

CV: I wouldn’t necessarily rule out either player from contributing to the offense, but with increased competition at receiver, I do think they’ll face a bit of an uphill climb to make the roster. Figure on one, if not both, landing on the practice squad.

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