Joe Brady will have a chance to continue in his current position. As the Bills considered outside options as well, their interim OC was believed to be the favorite for the job. He now has it.
The Bills will remove Brady’s interim tag and make him their full-time play-caller, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. This will be Brady’s second stint as a full-time NFL OC. The Panthers employed him as such from 2020-21. Known to hire an ex-Panther or two under current management, the Bills have announced the decision.
While the Bills have earned their Panthers North identity during Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott‘s stewardship, the Brady connection is more coincidental compared to the other Carolina importing calls Buffalo has made. Brady’s Panthers stay came well after McDermott and Beane had arrived in Buffalo. Still, Brady trekked to Buffalo after a two-season run in Charlotte. Although he came to the Bills as a quarterbacks coach, the ex-LSU pass-game coordinator is back in a high-profile job.
The Bills only lost twice with Brady in place as OC, though a production spike did not occur after he took over. The team did better incorporate emerging Pro Bowler James Cook into the offense and grow comfortable under Brady, doing so despite a concerning second-half production dip from Stefon Diggs. The Bills finished sixth in scoring and fourth in total offense — down from second in both categories in 2022 — and third in DVOA during its Dorsey-Brady season.
Important in the Brady OC equation, Diggs and Cook are auxiliary pieces. Josh Allen‘s performance will play the lead role in determining how long Brady stays in this job, with HC interest sure to follow — in a period that features built-in advantages for offense-oriented HC candidates — if Allen stays on course as one of the NFL’s best players. Brady, 34, conducted his first HC interview in three years this offseason, meeting virtually with the Falcons. Brady mentored Teddy Bridgewater to what remains the top Panthers QB showing post-Cam Newton, but Matt Rhule fired his OC late in a 2021 season primarily featuring Sam Darnold at the controls.
Allen vouched for Brady, joining others in that regard. The superstar passer sported his best completion rate (66.5%) since 2020 and displayed run-game dominance under Brady. Allen runs became an essential part of the Bills’ late-season blueprint, and all four his 50-plus-yard performances on the ground this season came after Brady replaced Ken Dorsey. McDermott expressed interest in limiting Allen runs this past offseason, as less punishment in that area will help extend his career. But Allen showed the historically rare skillset he provides in the Bills’ final three games, totaling 213 yards and three touchdowns against the Dolphins, Steelers and Chiefs.
While Brady will need to strike an appropriate balance regarding the team’s reliance on Allen’s rushing chops, Cook’s emergence will help. That said, the Bills will need to recapture the Allen-Diggs connection that transformed the 2018 first-rounder’s career. Not only did all five of Diggs’ 100-yard games this season occur on Dorsey’s watch, but the star wideout managed just one 80-yard performance with Brady at the controls. Although defenses undoubtedly key on Diggs, the Bills will need to see more from their $24MM-per-year receiver in 2024.
This will be a pivotal offseason for the Bills, who are only the third team since the NFL shifted to record-based playoff seeding in 1975 to lose home divisional-round games in back-to-back years. Just the 1986-87 Bears and 1976-77 Colts match this. As the highest-ranking offensive coach in the building, Brady will become central to the organization’s quest to win its long-elusive Super Bowl.