Chan Gailey's situational playcalling has come into question after Thursday night's loss to the Bills. I think when a play does not work, the easiest thing to do is to blame the offensive coordinator for calling a stupid play. That certainly was the case on a fourth and two at the start of the fourth quarter that the Bills stopped. Why would Gailey call a quick pass to Marshall short of the first down marker?
As it turns out, it was not that simple. In the postgame press conference, Ryan Fitzpatrick mentioned it was his decision to go to Marshall there.
The one to Brandon, they were coming after us and I thought, get it in his hands, but it wasn’t the right call.
Here is what things looked like as the teams lined up. You can the cushion Ronald Darby is giving Brandon Marshall on the outside. He is playing around three yards behind the first down marker. Marshall was two yards away. With Fitzpatrick anticipating a blitz, you can understand why he might want to get the ball quickly to Marshall. If he gets it out quickly, Buffalo's pass rush would not be able to get to him, and his receiver would start closer to the first down marker than the one guy who could tackle him.
As it turns out, Fitzpatrick's read was correct. The Bills do blitz six men. The five offensive linemen and the back do pick it up pretty well.
Why didn't the play work? Todd Bowles offered an explanation in his postgame press conference.
The ball was in the wrong location. The route was short. There was a mix-up there.