How selflessness and communication have led to a strong start for Buffalo's receiving corps

Cole Beasley (11) Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins, September 20, 2020 at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert

Brian Daboll pointed to a moment during Sunday's victory over the Miami Dolphins as evidence of the culture being built within the Buffalo Bills' receiver room.

The Bills were airing the ball early and often – Josh Allen's 249 first-half passing yards were the most by a Bills quarterback since Doug Flutie in 2000 – with an emphasis on feeding wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who had eight receptions in the half.

So, with so much attention on Diggs, fellow receiver John Brown hopped on the headset.

"Smoke gets on the headset with me," Daboll recalled. "He said, 'Keep feeding 14.'"

"Then we get into halftime and Diggs is like, 'Hey, we can get Smoke over here, we can get [wide receiver Cole Beasley] over here.' They're working together and they're working for one another and when you have a group of guys – particularly in that room – that are unselfish like that, you like to see that as a coach."

The Bills passing game is beginning to turn heads following victories over the Jets and Dolphins in which Allen tossed for a league-leading 729 yards. The quarterback has commanded the offense with confidence and efficiency, becoming just the fourth player in league history to throw for 700-plus yards with six or more touchdowns and no interceptions through two weeks.

The others, according to Stathead: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Patrick Mahomes. Pretty good company.

Part of that success can be attributed to the depth – and communication – within Buffalo's receiving corps. Buffalo is one of only four NFL teams to have three receivers with nine or more receptions: Diggs (16), Brown (10), and Beasley (9).

The Bills are also one of only two teams (along with Atlanta) with three receivers in the top 30 for receiving yards. Diggs is tied with the Falcons' Calvin Ridley for the league lead with 239. Brown ranks 17th with 152; Beasley sits in 28th with 128.

The spoils have even trickled down to the team's rookies. Running back Zack Moss, tight end Reggie Gilliam, and receiver Gabriel Davis all caught their first NFL touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. Davis said teammates celebrated his reception – a diving score that put the Bills ahead during the fourth quarter in Miami – as if it were their own.

The production speaks not only to the receivers' selflessness, but also to the commitment to detail they share with Allen. The quarterback missed Brown on a deep crossing route during the fourth quarter on Sunday, seemingly a case of miscommunication. On the very next play, Allen connected with Brown on a similar route for a 46-yard score.

Brown explained afterward how Diggs made the play possible by drawing the safety's attention underneath. The communication between plays, meanwhile, was a testament to the level of detail Allen and his receivers put into each repetition, be it during practices or games.

"Those are valuable reps and you have to treat them like that," Daboll said. "It's not just, you're going out there and throwing the football around. You have to get the details – albeit sometimes it's on air – but the timing and the eyes, the body, the shoulder lean and the stick, when he's going to turn it loose and the angles that he's going to go at. Those are all tiny details that we try to work on each day."

Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke positively about the exchanges he's witnessed between Allen and other members of the offense between plays at practice.

"Last week I remember vividly, the defense was taking the field to get their work in and the offense was going off and Josh was having a conversation with one of the receivers just to follow up," McDermott said.

"That detail of being on the same page is so important because that's what leads to a high level of execution."

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