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The Buffalo Bills Quarterback (Coach) Controversy



(Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

The search for a new quarterback coach is on, as David Culley recently accepted a position with the Baltimore Ravens. He will serve as the Ravens wide receivers coach, passing game coordinator, and assistant head coach- a testament to his offensive prowess. Culley was a highly scrutinized hire of Sean McDermott’s, albeit a long-tenured and well respected coach. Previously, Culley had been a wide receiver coach for all of his 25 year NFL tenure. He last coached quarterbacks during the 1988 season at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. McDermott and Culley worked on the same Philadelphia Eagles staff for over a decade, and is presumably what lead to the initial hire. Yet, his lack of QB coach credentials provoked questions about his ability to develop rookie QB Josh Allen.

Allen’s first season was a modest success, with much of it coming during second half after he had time to recover from injury and settle into the NFL. Furthermore, a significant amount of that success came from Allen’s prolific scrambling ability. However, it is questionable how much of that success should be attributed to Culley. It’s more likely Allen’s raw athletic tools coupled with learning Brian Daboll’s offensive scheme produced those late tantalizing performances. Before the season started, the rookie QB’s deficiencies centered around his pocket accuracy and footwork. As the season closed, those same concerns remain. Allen repeatedly threw without his feet set, causing him to miss many short and intermediate passes. Although the green QB took steps forward throughout his rookie season, Culley did little to develop Allen’s main issues.

Finding the next QB coach/guru to turn Allen into the franchise quarterback should be high on the priority list. A few names stick out, starting with retired NFL QB Jordan Palmer. Since retirement, Palmer has become a renowned QB trainer. Palmer is currently training with Allen in California, and has even received praise from McDermott. Backup QB Derek Anderson could seamlessly slide into a coaching position, but Anderson himself has never been the most mechanically sound passer. Another name that has been floated around is Ken Dorsey, who had served as the Carolina Panthers QB coach during the same time as McDermott’s tenure there.

It is critical for McDermott to get this hire right. Unfortunately, McDermott seems to have trouble identifying the correct assistant coaches. Multiple position coaches have been replaced over the last two years, including the offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach, and offensive line coach. His job security is directly tied to the performance and development of Josh Allen. If Allen performs well next season, the Bills have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Yet, if Allen’s play does not progress, McDermott may find himself on the hot seat.