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Gabe Davis Bills
NFL

How Will Gabe Davis’ Emergence Help Josh Allen?

  • Justin Melo
  • September 9, 2022
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Few players entered the 2022 campaign with the promise of progress like Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis did. You’re probably tired of hearing how Davis exploded for a historic eight receptions, 201 yards, and four touchdowns in the Bills’ instant classic postseason defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a worthy glimpse into Davis’ potential ascension and Davis picked up where he left off throughout Buffalo’s dominant 31-10 victory over the Super Bowl defending champion Los Angeles Rams on Thursday. Davis’ continued emergence makes Josh Allen an MVP candidate and an even scarier quarterback.

Davis was excellent on Thursday, securing four-of-five targets for 88 yards and a touchdown. Davis opened the scoring on a beautifully designed play that saw him sell the block on a 3rd-and-short play-action before releasing towards the end zone. Davis came in short motion on I-formation with the Bills selling a run to the left pre-snap. Allen rolled to his right and threw a floater to a wide-open Davis.

Davis later recorded a 47-yard reception that placed the Bills on the Rams’ 6-yard line. The connection had a completion probability of 27.1%, per Next Gen Stats. Davis ran through, around, and behind the Rams’ secondary.

Davis’ usage was particularly eye-opening. The former UCF standout easily led all Bills receivers in snaps (57) and routes run (38), per Pro Football Focus. Davis played 20 more snaps than Stefon Diggs (37) did. Diggs, not Davis, often rotated out of the lineup in two-receiver sets. It’s worth acknowledging several of these snaps were on obvious running downs—Davis isn’t going to dethrone Diggs for Buffalo’s No. 1 receiver spot. The takeaway is Davis is going to play a ton for the Bills this season.

The Bills released Cole Beasley earlier this offseason and opted against re-signing the now-retired Emmanuel Sanders. Their departures freed up 184 targets in Buffalo’s passing game. Beasley specifically finished second in overall team targets (112) last season. An increase in targets for Davis was always on the horizon, but many expect that target share to include Isaiah McKenzie, James Cook, Jamison Crowder, and Khalil Shakir. These four players combined for just seven targets Thursday. Shakir was a healthy scratch. McKenzie was at fault for Allen’s first interception. Cook fumbled on his first career carry and didn’t play a role in the passing game. Backup running back Zack Moss saw six targets but also lost a fumble. All of these players will likely see their roles grow throughout the season, but perhaps Davis is in for an even bigger target share than we first imagined.

The Bills’ offense went through an abundance of changes this offseason. Ken Dorsey is the new offensive coordinator and Joe Brady is the new quarterbacks coach. There are several new starters and role players across the offensive line and receiver group. Allen showcased a willingness to rely on a familiar face in Davis. A career-best campaign looms large for Davis.

Gabe Davis managed to reach sky-high expectations for his 2022 debut. Raheem Morris’ secondary had no answers for Davis’ dynamic skill set. The Allen-to-Davis connection will grow stronger as the season progresses. Opposing secondaries beware.

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Justin Melo