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'The best I've ever been around' | Josh Allen and Mitch Morse believe offensive line's chemistry has pushed Bills' season back in right direction

Week 16 FTLR Practice

As James Cook ran downfield during one of his many explosive plays against the Cowboys on Sunday night, Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins met Cowboys linebacker Damone Clark a yard ahead of the line of scrimmage, forcing the second-year player to backpedal 20 yards and keeping him from touching Cook, who was tackled just outside of the end zone.

"It gets the juice flowing, I'll tell you that," quarterback Josh Allen said on Dawkins' block. "A lot of guys love seeing that, it's one of the more fun plays I think I've ever watched. For him to go do that 20-plus yards downfield right at the goal line, watching it live was awesome because I was right there."

Cook's run set up Buffalo's third touchdown of the night as the Bills steamrolled the Cowboys 31-10 to improve to 8-6 on the season. With 179 rushing yards, Cook and the Bills rushing attack had a monster night as Joe Brady and the Buffalo offense called runs on over 75 percent of their plays.

In the midst of the dominant performance that Cook and the other rushers on the team had stood five men, pushing a wall of Dallas defenders out of the way to provide lanes for their running backs to sprint through.

The Bills offensive line hasn't just been good this season, they've been dominant.

"In terms of just the collective group, it's the best I've ever been around. Guys care about each other, they work hard to communicate well and we're starting to see that pay off during games," Allen said after Tuesday's walk-through. "They haven't gotten nearly enough credit that they deserve."

Not only did the Bills offensive line clear room for the offense to tally up the most rushing yards they've had this season, but they protected Allen at an elite level. The Bills quarterback has only been sacked 19 times, the fewest in the NFL. He has faced pressure on 18.3 percent of drop backs, the ninth-best rate in the NFL.

While the offensive line isn't the sole contributor to these measurements, as Allen has top-notch pocket presence and is extremely skilled in evading pressure, Dawkins, left guard Connor McGovern, center Mitch Morse, right guard O'Cyrus Torrence and right tackle Spencer Brown clearly have something special going.

"I think we've been extremely fortunate in regards to our continuity," Morse said. "It's something that you rarely see and to have that just in general, but by this time in the year, you've accumulated so many reps and you understand how everyone's going to work these blocks and how each individual is going to attack certain things. You've gained this nonverbal communication."

While McGovern and Torrence are newcomers, Morse and Dawkins have been playing with Allen for five and seven years, respectively. Brown has been a consistent starter since 2021.

Despite being selected to each of the previous two Pro Bowls, Allen thinks that Dawkins is having perhaps his best season yet, with a pass block win rate of 93 percent is tied for the fourth-highest among offensive tackles.

"Mindset, mentality-wise, it's the best [season] he's ever had," Allen said. "The way that he takes care of his body, the transition that he's done over the last year and a half mentally is unbelievable. I got a lot of love for him, a lot of respect for him."

On the other side of the line, Brown has shown great improvement this season compared to last, when he missed training camp due to injury and struggled to stay healthy throughout the 2022 season. Pro Football Focus gave the tackle a 51.4 overall grade last season. This year, it has risen to 68.4, a 33 percent increase. The third-year pro holds a run block win rate of 79 percent, tied for the fifth-highest in the NFL.

"Spencer Brown has always taken pride in being accountable and being relied upon and I think these past two years have not been the easiest for him with his health and that certainly affected his play, not having that training camp," Morse said. "Now he's really taking onus of his craft and being a professional and understanding what that means to him."

With an offensive line that is as effective in pass protection as it is in the running game, the Bills offense has the luxury of playing to their opponents' weaknesses. Although the Cowboys front seven don't have many flaws, they are a greater threat against the pass. Micah Parsons, a Swiss Army knife of a defensive player, leads the NFL in pass rush win rate from the edge. Osa Odighizuwa is second among defensive tackles, behind only L.A.'s Aaron Donald.

The Bills being as successful in the run game meant they didn't have to worry as much about protecting against Parsons and the rest of the Dallas wrecking crew.

"It gave us time of possession to give our defense an opportunity to rest as well as put them in a position where they had to throw the ball and let our guys get hot," Morse said. "It also gave us an opportunity to not have to pass [protect] against an extremely talented pass rushing unit."

Injury Report

Head coach Sean McDermott announced Tuesday morning that DaQuan Jones' 21-day practice window had been opened. The defensive tackle had surgery after sustaining a pectoral injury in the Bills' Week 5 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Other Bills who were limited in practice Tuesday included A.J. Epenesa (rib), Leonard Floyd (wrist/rib), Micah Hyde (neck stinger), Ty Johnson (shoulder), DaQuan Jones (pectoral), Dalton Kincaid (shoulder). 

Von Miller (personal) and Jordan Phillips (wrist) did not practice.

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