Buffalo's Passing Offense Could Go down as the Worst Ever

by Justis Mosqueda

Last week, Optimum Scouting told the world why there's no need to worry about first-round passers struggling. Only about five percent of rookie first-round quarterbacks both throw 150+ passes and have meaningful passing efficiency. It should come to no one's surprise that the four least efficient passing offenses in the 2018 passing boom are all led by rookies.

What should come as a surprise, though, is how bad the Buffalo Bills, who have split passes between rookie Josh Allen and veterans Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman, have been through nine games.

To put their numbers into context, I dug into the Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt Value (ANY/A Value) of every NFL team since the 1970 merger. ANY/A is yards per attempt (including sacks and sack yardage) which treats touchdowns as gains of 20 yards and interceptions as losses of 45 yards. ANY/A is the passing stat most correlated to winning football games. ANY/A Value is just an era adjustment, giving us yards above or below the NFL average relative to a given year as our output.

ANY/A: (Passing Yards - Sack Yards + (Touchdowns * 20) - (Interceptions - 45)) * (Pass Attempts + Sacks)

ANY/A Value: ((Team ANY/A - NFL ANY/A) * (Team Pass Attempts + Team Sacks))

Here is what the ANY/A Value of the NFL looks like at the moment.

Buffalo is notably worse than any other NFL team at -1501.3 yards. They are about twice as bad as the Arizona Cardinals (-775.5 yards), who rank 31st in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs, the best passing offense in football, is only +1052.4 on the year, meaning the Bills are roughly 50% worse than the Chiefs are good. Their passing offense struggles are noticeable on a historical level.

In a historical context, Buffalo's offense, through just nine games, is already one of the most costly of all-time. Below is a chart of the ten most costly passing seasons since the 1970 merger entering this season, with Buffalo's "progress" and projections noted.

At the moment, only the 1992 Seahawks, 2012 Cardinals, 1998 Chargers, 1974 Falcons, 2010 Panthers, 1984 Bills and 2006 Raiders had worse seasons than the Bills already have had. Yes, that means Buffalo has already hurt themselves more through the air than the 2017 Cleveland Browns, who went winless. That's the level of failure we're talking about here.

If their current pace of -166.8 yards per game keeps up, the 2018 Bills will finish the season 2669 yards under the expectation of an average NFL passing offense, by far the worst mark in the post-merger NFL. That's over 50 percent worse than the 1992 Seahawks, who currently hold the belt for the most costly passing offense since 1970. At the moment, the Bills are on pace to eclipse the '92 Hawks in the next two games, with five regular-season games to spare.

Barring a massive rebound in the second half of the season, the 2018 Bills will make history this year. On the brink of infamy, a near certain reality is headed Buffalo's way.