From Bill O’Brien to Eric Bieniemy: What has gone right and wrong for every NFL OC, playcaller this season

On Tuesday, following a 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football,” the Buffalo Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. So it goes for an NFL franchise with Super Bowl aspirations after dropping to 5-5 with an offense that hasn’t been in sync and has had turnover problems.

The Bills aren’t the only team to make a change. Last month, Carolina Panthers coach Frank Reich turned playcalling duties over to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. They’ve managed all of two offensive touchdowns in three games since. And the Las Vegas Raiders fired coach Josh McDaniels and put the offense in the hands of Bo Hardegree on an interim basis.

Meanwhile, first-year coordinator Bobby Slowik of the Houston Texans has rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud humming, and Ben Johnson’s Detroit Lions offense is averaging the second-most yards in the NFL.

What about high-profile coordinators like the New England Patriots‘ Bill O’Brien, Baltimore Ravens‘ Todd Monken, Washington Commanders‘ Eric Bieniemy and Dallas Cowboys‘ Mike McCarthy?

As we move into the second half of the 2023 NFL season, here’s a look at what has gone right, what has gone wrong and the key to the second half for every offense in the NFL.

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NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF


Offensive coordinator: Joe Brady

Playcaller: Joe Brady

What has gone right? Statistically, the Bills’ offense is among the best in the league despite some struggles over the past month. The team ranks third in offensive EPA (62.6), second in third-down conversion percentage (49.2%) and second in the league in completion percentage (70.3%). The offense put up big performances early in the season and has shown flashes of what it can do.

What has gone wrong? In part, too much predictability led to Tuesday’s firing of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who was replaced by quarterbacks coach Joe Brady, in addition to the season not going as the Bills hoped. This offense has looked out of sync with poor decisions by Allen at times and an inability to put together complete drives throughout a game. Turnovers are also a major issue, as the Bills have lost the turnover margin in six straight games and Allen has two more turnovers than any other player this season (14).

Key to second half: Sitting at 5-5 and looking up at an incredibly difficult road to the postseason, Sean McDermott is handing the offense to Brady with all the pressure now firmly on McDermott after Dorsey’s firing. The key to the second half will be finding a spark under Brady to get rid of the mistakes and for the team to gain confidence in the offense. — Alaina Getzenberg

Offensive coordinator: Frank Smith

Playcaller: Mike McDaniel

What has gone right? In his second year as offensive playcaller, McDaniel has orchestrated the NFL’s top scoring offense. The Dolphins lead the league in yards per game and passing yards per game and rank second in rushing yards per game. They’ve also scored on a league-high 75% of their red zone trips, making this one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL.

What has gone wrong? Miami’s performance against its toughest opponents leaves something to be desired, but there is not a whole lot that’s gone wrong through the midway point of this season. The Dolphins could improve on third down, when they convert on 39.58% of their attempts — 16th best in the NFL.

Key to second half: Keeping Tua Tagovailoa upright. The MVP candidate has been sacked on just 4.3% of his dropbacks, the lowest of his career. As the Dolphins found out last season, things can fall apart if he’s hurt — so priority No. 1 is keeping him healthy during the stretch run of the regular season. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Offensive coordinator: Bill O’Brien

Playcaller: Bill O’Brien

What has gone right? Not enough. The integration of rookie WR Demario Douglas into the offense in recent weeks has added a little spark, and the usage of multiple TE sets has been one constant that has produced results at times. But the team ranks 31st in the NFL in points-per-game average (15.1).

What has gone wrong? Too much. Seven different offensive line configurations in 10 games hasn’t been ideal, and QB Mac Jones‘ growth has been dramatically affected by it. Even if the Patriots had the same OL throughout, the quality of the talent up front remains in question. Not to mention the Patriots have one of the NFL’s most underwhelming receiving corps. Add it all up and it has been a recipe for offensive struggles.

Key to second half: Lean on the running game more. Ezekiel Elliott made the point after Sunday’s loss in Germany that the 1-2 punch he forms with Rhamondre Stevenson has potential for greater results if the team can make more of a commitment to it. A lot goes into that — such as eliminating negative plays and playing while ahead. — Mike Reiss

Offensive coordinator: Nathaniel Hackett

Playcaller: Nathaniel Hackett

What has gone right? Not much, but RB Breece Hall has been a positive. Coming off ACL surgery last year, Hall is sixth in the NFL in yards per carry (4.9), providing a home run threat in the backfield. But, like everything else on offense, Hall has slowed down in recent weeks due to instability on the offensive line.

What has gone wrong? The offense has gone 11 straight quarters (36 possessions) without a touchdown. Hackett lost his QB1, Aaron Rodgers, on the fourth play of the season. A terrible break, but life is supposed to go on in the NFL. Unfortunately for Hackett, he hasn’t figured out a way to get any sort of consistency out of quarterback Zach Wilson. The offense is historically bad in several areas, most notably red zone and third-down efficiency.

Key to second half: First, they need to decide how long they’re willing to ride with Wilson. The alternatives are Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian, neither of whom is an upgrade. If the offense continues to circle the drain with Wilson, the Jets risk a locker-room split, as the defense is performing at a playoff-caliber level. Rodgers says his goal is to return by mid-December; the season could be lost by then if nothing changes. — Rich Cimini




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Offensive coordinator: Todd Monken

Playcaller: Todd Monken

What has gone right? The Ravens have become one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL. Baltimore ranks fourth in offensive scoring (26.1), fourth in the red zone (64.3%) and sixth on third downs (44.1%). Lamar Jackson is having his most accurate season, completing 70.3% of his passes. The run game remains a strength, topping the league at 154.9 yards per game.

What has gone wrong? The fourth quarter. All three of Baltimore’s losses have come when the Ravens have held leads in the fourth quarter and failed to finish. Baltimore is averaging 68.1 yards in the fourth quarter, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Jackson’s 31.8 Total QBR in the fourth quarter also ranks 29th in the NFL.

Key to second half: More consistency from Jackson. He’s the biggest barometer of success for the Ravens. In seven wins, Jackson has thrown nine touchdowns and two interceptions. In three losses, he has passed for one touchdown and three interceptions. Jackson has a favorable schedule ahead with four of Baltimore’s final seven opponents ranking 24th or worse in pass defense. — Jamison Hensley

Offensive coordinator: Brian Callahan

Playcaller: Zac Taylor

What has gone right? The passing attack has been efficient since Joe Burrow‘s right calf healed. Since Week 5, Cincinnati is seventh in points per drive and tops in the league in completion percentage. During that span, Cincinnati won four of five games and has scored touchdowns on eight of its 10 drives that started in the first quarter.

What has gone wrong? The Bengals have been poor in the second quarter. Over the past five games, Cincinnati has scored just one touchdown on 15 drives that started in the second quarter. The Bengals’ percentage of designed runs is significantly lower than the run game’s effectiveness. Cincinnati is 17th in expected points added per rush but has the second-lowest rate of designed runs (29.5%).

Key to second half: Finding a balance between hot starts and long stretches of ineffective offense is paramount. Even with Burrow healthy, the Bengals have struggled with consistently scoring and moving the ball. That issue was on display in the team’s Week 10 loss to Houston that featured punts on five straight drives. — Ben Baby

Offensive coordinator: Alex Van Pelt

Playcaller: Kevin Stefanski

What has gone right? Despite injuries, the Browns have found a way to stay afloat. Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt have kept the ground game rolling. Wideout Amari Cooper has been clutch. A banged-up offensive line has held up. And quarterback Deshaun Watson delivered his best performance in a Browns uniform in Sunday’s comeback victory at Baltimore.

What has gone wrong? The Browns lost their top offensive player, All-Pro running back Nick Chubb, to a season-ending knee injury in Week 2. The running game has been solid but not elite without him. Watson missing a month because of a rotator cuff strain has kept the offense from finding a consistent groove.

Key to second half: Can Watson build off his Baltimore performance? He completed 6 of 20 passes in the first half but connected on all 14 of his passes in the final two quarters and led the Browns on a winning drive as time expired. If Watson can build off that, the Browns could be a factor in the AFC. — Jake Trotter

Offensive coordinator: Matt Canada

Playcaller: Matt Canada

What has gone right? Not much — at least not consistently. The Steelers’ offense hasn’t been able to put together a complete game this season. But Kenny Pickett has been solid late with three fourth-quarter comebacks in nine games, matching his 2022 total. Canada also recently moved from the booth to the sideline, aiding cohesive communication in the past two wins.

What has gone wrong? Pickett’s completion percentage has declined from 63% in 2022 to 61.3%, and his QBR dropped from 53.6 to 36.3. The Steelers also rank in the bottom 10 in total offense (283.6 YPG) and points per game (17.3). Whether it’s the quarterback or playcalling, Canada has come under fire by the fan base throughout the season.

Key to second half: Keep pounding the run game. The Steelers unlocked something on the ground in their past two games with back-to-back season highs. Part of that is inserting Broderick Jones at right tackle. Another part is more balance between Najee Harris‘ and Jaylen Warren‘s carries. The ground game has given the Steelers an identity. They need to maintain it in the second half of the season. — Brooke Pryor




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Offensive coordinator: Bobby Slowik

Playcaller: Bobby Slowik

What has gone right? Slowik has called plays that fit QB C.J. Stroud‘s ability. One example is throwing the ball over the middle of the field. Stroud leads the league in passing yards (1,034) and passer rating (121.1) with attempts to that area. Defenses know this, but Slowik still finds ways to exploit it.

What has gone wrong? The Texans’ run game has struggled. They rank 25th in rushing (98.2), but they’re showing life, especially after Devin Singletary rushed for a season-high 150 yards Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Imagine an offense for which teams have to account for Stroud and the rush.

Key to second half: Continuing to protect Stroud. The Texans’ offensive line ranks eighth in pass block win rate, which means Stroud has time to throw, and he’s taking it. His average time to throw is 3.04 seconds, which is the second longest in the NFL. Despite the rookie holding on to the ball, he has been pressured on only 36% of his dropbacks (15th). That speaks to the offensive line. — DJ Bien-Aime

Offensive coordinator: Jim Bob Cooter

Playcaller: Shane Steichen

What has gone right? The Colts have generated much more offensive production than predicted, especially considering the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Anthony Richardson and the early-season absence of running back Jonathan Taylor. That production has tailed off lately, but through Week 8, the Colts were seventh in scoring (25.6 points per game) and eighth in yards per game (362.4).

What has gone wrong? The loss of Richardson forced Steichen to adapt his offense to backup Gardner Minshew. Using a more traditional approach with Minshew under center, the Colts have had some opportunities for big plays, but increased turnovers have made them less aggressive. As a result, the Colts have scored just three offensive touchdowns in their past two games.

Key to second half: Minshew has to learn to trust his protection more, which would give the Colts opportunities for the occasional deep shot. Minshew took some hits earlier in his stint as the starter because of offensive line injuries, but the protection has been much improved. Also, look for a greater workload for Taylor now that he’s finally in midseason form. — Stephen Holder

Offensive coordinator: Press Taylor

Playcaller: Press Taylor

What has gone right? The Jaguars have made key plays at critical times — WR Christian Kirk‘s touchdown catch against New Orleans and RB Travis Etienne’s touchdown catch against Pittsburgh — to win games. Etienne is fourth in the NFL in rushing (618 yards) and sixth in scrimmage yards (893) and has been the Jaguars’ offensive MVP so far.

What has gone wrong? The Jaguars are tied for the league lead with four red zone turnovers and rank 29th in red zone efficiency (43.5%). They’re also averaging two points fewer per game than last season and have nearly matched last season’s sacks allowed total (28) in only nine games (24).

Key to second half: The Jaguars have to eliminate the lulls that strike in the second and third quarters, get more consistency out of the offensive line and find a way to get WR Calvin Ridley more involved. They also need Trevor Lawrence to throw more touchdown passes and turn the ball over less. He currently has nine touchdowns passes to 10 turnovers on the season. — Michael DiRocco

Offensive coordinator: Tim Kelly

Playcaller: Tim Kelly

What has gone right? The Titans might have found another option in the passing game to go along with DeAndre Hopkins. Second-year receiver Kyle Philips has emerged as a reliable target for rookie quarterback Will Levis. The two worked together extensively on Mondays and after practice before Levis became the starter. Philips has back-to-back games with at least 60 receiving yards.

What has gone wrong? The Titans have been unable to generate points in the red zone. Protection issues, lack of separation on routes and the inability to run the ball have all contributed to Tennessee scoring touchdowns on only 32.7% of its visits inside the 20-yard line, which is second to last in the NFL.

Key to second half: The offensive line has to allow more time for Levis to get the ball to his pass-catchers. In three starts, Levis has been hit 34 times and sacked 10. The pressures have caused Levis to speed up his clock at times, and receivers have been forced to cut routes short. The offense can’t function if there’s no time to execute the plays. — Turron Davenport




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Offensive coordinator: Joe Lombardi

Playcaller: Sean Payton

What has gone right? The Broncos have carved out room for explosive runs — they’ve been among the league’s top three teams all season in percentage of runs of 10 yards or more — and pushed the ball downfield in the passing game with play-action. When QB Russell Wilson moves the ball quickly and plays with decisiveness from the pocket, things have looked smoother.

What has gone wrong? When the Broncos are sluggish, they don’t keep themselves in manageable down-and-distance situations on third down, so they don’t convert enough to keep things moving. Thanks to good special teams work and the defense forcing turnovers, the Broncos had four drives start inside Buffalo territory Monday, and got only six points out of that. Also, if Wilson takes time in the pocket or misses the easy throws, it seems to drag things down.

Key to second half: Payton and Wilson have to continue to find the groove that has eluded them at times. The Broncos don’t have players who have provided explosive plays — like rookies Marvin Mims Jr. (WR) and Jaleel McLaughlin (RB) — in the rotation often enough. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has to find a way to be a bigger part of things as well — he had four games going into Monday with three or fewer receptions. — Jeff Legwold

Offensive coordinator: Matt Nagy

Playcaller: Andy Reid

What has gone right? The Chiefs aren’t what they’ve been in the past on offense, but they’re far from dismal. Travis Kelce is having another big season, and rookie WR Rashee Rice has produced more than expected. The Chiefs at times played great complementary football, finishing one-score wins against the Jaguars and Jets with long, clock-killing drives.

What has gone wrong? The passing game has worked only in stretches, otherwise looking nothing like the well-oiled machine it has been. Patrick Mahomes is on pace for the worst statistical season of his career, but he’s hardly the only one to blame. The Chiefs were counting on Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but they’ve produced little.

Key to second half: The wide receivers have to improve. The Chiefs lead the league in dropped passes, so at a minimum they need to be better there. At least one from a group that includes Moore, Toney, Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman Jr. needs to join Rice in being consistently productive. — Adam Teicher

Offensive coordinator: Bo Hardegree (Interim)

Playcaller: Bo Hardegree

What has gone right? It’s a small sample, as Hardegree was elevated from quarterbacks coach to interim OC upon the Halloween night firing of coach Josh McDaniels, who was the playcaller, but All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs is starting to look like, well, Josh Jacobs again. Last season’s rushing champion has rushed for a combined 214 yards and two TDs in two games under Hardegree. In eight games under McDaniels, Jacobs rushed for a combined 408 yards and three scores.

What has gone wrong? Again, small sample, but growing pains are expected with a first-time playcaller making the decisions for a rookie QB in Aidan O’Connell. Improving O’Connell’s completion percentage from 61.5% in his two starts under Hardegree will be a point of emphasis, as well as his 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Key to second half: Getting O’Connell to adjust his internal clock to not take so many sacks. Sure, the Jets have a fearsome pass rush that sacked him three times Sunday, but in holding on to the ball too long, he took a pair of sacks that cost the Raiders 18 yards and knocked them out of field goal range late in the second quarter. — Paul Gutierrez

Offensive coordinator: Kellen Moore

Playcaller: Kellen Moore

What has gone right? The Chargers’ passing offense. The Chargers are averaging 249.1 passing yards per game, the eighth-best mark in the NFL. The Keenan Allen and Justin Herbert connection has never been more effective, as Allen is up to 895 yards through 10 games and on pace for the best season of his 11-year career.

What has gone wrong? After running for 233 yards in Week 1, production on the ground has come to a halt. Since then, the Chargers have averaged 84.1 rushing yards per game and 1.74 yards per carry, which both rank in the bottom four in the NFL over that span.

Key to second half: Unlocking the rushing offense. The Chargers have the NFL’s eighth-highest-scoring offense in points per game (26.6) without any rushing threat. If the Chargers can find a way to make this unit work, their offense would be hard to stop. — Kris Rhim




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Offensive coordinator: Brian Schottenheimer

Playcaller: Mike McCarthy

What has gone right? The Cowboys have scored 232 points on offense (not including defensive and special teams touchdowns). They have scored 30 or more points five times. It took a few weeks to get going, but QB Dak Prescott is “playing as good as I’ve seen,” according to owner/GM Jerry Jones. CeeDee Lamb is on pace for team receiving records. They have a diverse scheme that can attack in different ways.

What has gone wrong? The running game has not been as effective, which can be traced in part to the lack of continuity on the offensive line. Tony Pollard has one 100-yard game. The Cowboys’ red zone performance has been better of late, but they are just 13-of-33 on the season.

Key to second half: The best way to help the run game is to pass opposing defenses out of stacked boxes. With the success Prescott has had throwing over the past month, defenses will likely have to shift strategies — and that could help the run game, as could more of a mix between Pollard and Rico Dowdle in the backfield — Todd Archer

Offensive coordinator: Mike Kafka

Playcaller: Mike Kafka

What has gone right? Pretty much nothing. The Giants are 32nd in total offense, averaging a paltry 259.2 yards per game. They’re last by a wide margin, scoring only 11.8 points per game. There is no way to spin this into anything positive for Kafka, coach Brian Daboll and the Giants’ offense this season.

What has gone wrong? Everything. Their offensive line was a mess early this season, and it gave their quarterbacks almost no chance for consistent success. Now, quarterbacks Daniel Jones and backup Tyrod Taylor are injured when the offensive line is finally in a little bit better shape. It has been that kind of season.

Key to second half: Lean on the running game with Saquon Barkley to make life easy for undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito (at least until Taylor returns). The bar is about as low as it could get after the first half of the season. No team has averaged fewer than 12.0 points per game since the 2009 Rams. — Jordan Raanan

Offensive coordinator: Brian Johnson

Playcaller: Brian Johnson

What has gone right? The Eagles are 8-1, and Jalen Hurts (22 total touchdowns) is once again in the MVP conversation along with his good friend, receiver A.J. Brown (1,005 receiving yards). Philadelphia ranks fifth in total yards (376.8 YPG) and third in points per game (28.0) in Johnson’s first year as offensive coordinator.

What has gone wrong? Hurts has eight interceptions on the season — already two more than last season. The Eagles started slowly in the red zone but have gotten hot of late to climb to 12th in the NFL with a touchdown rate of 56%. Most of their struggles inside the 20-yard-line have come on the road (43% vs. 71% at home).

Key to second half: Philadelphia is minus-2 in turnover differential thanks in part to 13 giveaways by the offense, which is tied for seventh worst in the NFL. Hurts (11 turnovers) and the Eagles need better ball security as they face some of best teams in the league (Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys) over the next four games. — Tim McManus

Offensive coordinator: Eric Bieniemy

Playcaller: Eric Bieniemy

What has gone right? Quarterback Sam Howell looks like a keeper. Because Bieniemy has had him throw the ball a lot — 49 more pass attempts than any other quarterback — Howell’s growth appears to have accelerated. Bieniemy has done a better job lately of giving Howell and the offense more help; some of the play designs have been excellent.

What has gone wrong? Washington’s offense has become one-dimensional. The Commanders have thrown the ball 61% of the time, including 68% over the past three games — all close contests. It has put pressure on Howell to produce all the time, which has led to big plays but also 47 sacks. Bieniemy took time to adjust to his personnel.

Key to second half: Continuing to reduce the hits and sacks taken by Howell. With upcoming games against Dallas (two) and San Francisco, the pass protection will be tested. If Howell and the offense can continue the recent trend of limiting hits on him, then Washington’s offense has a chance to be fun down the stretch. — John Keim




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Offensive coordinator: Luke Getsy

Playcaller: Luke Getsy

What has gone right? Chicago has the fifth-best rushing offense (135.1) through 10 games and hasn’t relied on quarterback Justin Fields‘ running to get there. Getsy has increased passing efficiency through the use of play-action and RPOs for both Fields and backup Tyson Bagent, and it has taken Chicago from 32nd to 20th in passing offense.

What has gone wrong? Chicago’s pass protection issues were highlighted in Weeks 1-4, but the return of tackle Teven Jenkins from IR seemed to help. The Bears have had trouble getting the ball to WR DJ Moore, who has only one game with double-digit targets, and in that game vs. Washington, he responded with 230 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Key to second half: With the possibility of landing the No. 1 overall draft pick, the Bears need to complete their evaluation of Fields. When Fields returns from a dislocated thumb, Chicago’s brass will zero in on whether offensive problem areas are a product of the scheme or quarterback play. — Courtney Cronin

Offensive coordinator: Ben Johnson

Playcaller: Ben Johnson

What has gone right? The Lions are ranked in the top six offensively for the second straight season, and it’s because of their versatility. Johnson has mixed the run and pass well, spreading the ball around to all the playmakers at his disposal. Quarterback Jared Goff has been great at spearheading the offense as well.

What has gone wrong? Despite a 7-2 start, the Lions ranked 26th in red zone touchdown percentage (48.4%) following Sunday’s 41-38 win over the Chargers. That’s an area Johnson and the coaching staff have emphasized, particularly within the 12-yard line, where they’ve made mistakes that have resulted in penalties and negative plays.

Key to second half: The Lions must tighten up in the red zone and limit turnovers but also remain aggressive with creative playcalling by Johnson, which keeps opponents on their toes. If they can, the Lions are a good bet to be playing their best football by the end of the regular season. — Eric Woodyard

Offensive coordinator: Adam Stenavich

Playcaller: Matt LaFleur

What has gone right? The Packers have finally been able to get running back Aaron Jones‘ touches up the past couple of weeks — not that it has translated into significant results. But Jones has 41 touches in the past two games combined, and it has helped give the offense someone it can depend on. They’d still like more production, though.

What has gone wrong? They haven’t been able to find anything they can hang their hat on offensively. The deep ball connections have been few and far between, and they haven’t been able to get QB Jordan Love to find a go-to receiver in must-have situations. The mantra has been to try to get Love into rhythm, but that hasn’t happened, in part because he doesn’t have anyone who can consistently make plays.

Key to second half: Somehow, despite the youth at receiver and tight end, the Packers have to figure out what Love can do well. There’s a lot riding on it for head coach LaFleur, who has been tasked with developing the offense around Love; and also for GM Brian Gutekunst, who drafted Love to be the next franchise quarterback. — Rob Demovsky

Offensive coordinator: Wes Phillips

Playcaller: Kevin O’Connell

What has gone right? O’Connell has proved to be arguably one of the NFL’s most effective playcallers, which he demonstrated in Week 9 by guiding emergency quarterback Joshua Dobbs — now the team’s starter — through plays and reads over the headset. A former quarterback himself, O’Connell used the no-huddle to maximize the time he had to speak with Dobbs. He routinely sets up big plays with well-timed calls, and his offense ranks No. 8 in the NFL in EPA (expected points added).

What has gone wrong? O’Connell’s heavy emphasis on the passing game, which he built to maximize receiver Justin Jefferson (currently injured), has left the running game neglected at times. The Vikings rank No. 26 in the NFL in rushes by running backs per game (19.3) while ranking No. 4 in the NFL in passing attempts per game (38.5). It’s not a crime to be pass heavy considering the Vikings’ personnel strengths and weaknesses, but it has sometimes been extreme.

Key to second half: Stay flexible. The Vikings have started three different quarterbacks this season and had a total of six on their roster or practice squad. At the midpoint of their season, three of them remained injured. Their top two running backs were injured as well. O’Connell might need to continue adjusting his scheme and playcalls to accommodate the disparate skills of the players on the field at any moment. — Kevin Seifert




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Offensive coordinator: Dave Ragone

Playcaller: Arthur Smith

What has gone right? Atlanta has one of the top rushing offenses at 130.4 yards per game, and the Falcons’ 38 rushes of 10 or more yards are tied with Miami for third in the league. Although there has been criticism over Bijan Robinson‘s usage, he is 11th in the NFL in scrimmage yards with 820.

What has gone wrong? Smith’s playcalling decisions can sometimes become too cute and out of the box when the level of skill position players doesn’t call for it. While the offense has occasionally put up big numbers, the Falcons have struggled to score, averaging 18.7 points per game, tied with Cincinnati for No. 23 in the NFL.

Key to second half: The Falcons have to use Robinson more effectively, give Desmond Ridder (provided he’s the starter) more ways to accentuate his zone read ability and scheme quicker-developing routes to playmakers Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Robinson. — Michael Rothstein

Offensive coordinator: Thomas Brown

Playcaller: Thomas Brown

What has gone right? Nothing, other than Bryce Young‘s drive for the winning field goal in Week 8 against the Texans in Brown’s first NFL game as a playcaller after head coach Frank Reich gave up the duties. Brown got a game ball for that drive, when Carolina kept the ball for the final 6:17 to get its only win. The fourth-and-2 completion to keep the drive alive with 3:22 left was his shining moment.

What has gone wrong? Everything. The Panthers have scored only two touchdowns in Brown’s three games as the playcaller. They’ve averaged only 13.6 points and 237.3 yards per game. Young has taken a step backward, throwing as many pick-sixes as he has touchdowns. It’s so bad that Reich didn’t rule out reclaiming the playcalling duties.

Key to second half: Get Young on track for next season. To do that, the Panthers have to improve a running game that has produced fewer than 45 yards in two of Brown’s three games and fix an offensive line that struggles in pass protection. — David Newton

Offensive coordinator: Pete Carmichael

Playcaller: Pete Carmichael

What has gone right? The Saints had a five-game stretch when they averaged 390.6 yards of offense. There have been times the Saints moved the ball and made big plays, with quarterback Taysom Hill being used in a variety of ways to account for five touchdowns in three of those games. However, they went 3-2 in that span and didn’t consistently get in the red zone.

What has gone wrong? The offense hasn’t put together any sort of consistent performance all season, and there have been multiple instances when the offense isn’t on the same page. To be fair, the Saints have a new quarterback, but things just haven’t clicked on that side of the ball in the first 10 games.

Key to second half: The Saints need to get the run game going and consistently utilize their best players. That means figuring out what has worked with running back Alvin Kamara and Hill and using it to their best advantage. The Saints are averaging only 3.6 yards per rush (fourth worst), which is one of many things they need to fix from an inconsistent offense. — Katherine Terrell

Offensive coordinator: Dave Canales

Playcaller: Dave Canales

What has gone right? Turnovers. The Bucs have turned the ball over just eight times, tied for second fewest in the league. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, whose 64 career interceptions heading into this season were the most in the league since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2018, has thrown just five picks.

What has gone wrong? The run game. The Bucs were dead last in rushing last season. This season, they’re averaging 78.1 rushing yards per game, second to last in the league, while their 64.5% run block win rate is 30th in the league, which has been a key reason for their difficulties.

Key to second half: Putting points on the board. The Bucs reached the 30-point threshold just one time this season — in their Week 9 loss to the Texans. Red zone offense continues to be an issue. Their 45.8% red zone touchdown rate is 28th in the league. — Jenna Laine




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Offensive coordinator: Drew Petzing

Playcaller: Drew Petzing

What has gone right? This season is expected to be a tale of two halves for Petzing, and Sunday marked the line of demarcation. With Kyler Murray back at quarterback for the Cardinals, Petzing’s approach has changed. But what Petzing did well with Joshua Dobbs for the first eight games and what he did well with Murray on Sunday is calling plays that suited their strengths, whether it was designed runs for both or deep balls for Murray.

What has gone wrong? To begin with, Petzing didn’t have Murray as his quarterback. Secondly, he was working with a quarterback in Dobbs whom he had two weeks to prepare in Arizona’s version of the offense Dobbs ran in Cleveland before starting the weekly wash, rinse and repeat grind of the regular season. Add in injuries to some of Arizona’s top skill players, such as running back James Conner, sprinkled throughout the season and Petzing, even still, hasn’t had a full complement of players to see what his offense can do.

Key to second half: How Petzing uses Murray’s skill set. Not every play can be a highlight-worthy scramble by Murray or a 40-yard deep pass on which Murray leads the receiver perfectly. If Petzing can diversify his playcalling enough to make it unpredictable and keep defenses on their toes, then Murray could carve up defenses. — Josh Weinfuss

Offensive coordinator: Mike LaFleur

Playcaller: Sean McVay

What has gone right? The Rams entered this season with a roster that looked like it lacked depth, especially with Cooper Kupp missing time because of a hamstring injury. But Los Angeles had two young playmakers emerge early in the season — receiver Puka Nacua and running back Kyren Williams — which got it off to a strong start offensively.

What has gone wrong? Williams injured his ankle in the Rams’ Week 6 victory over the Cardinals, and the Rams haven’t won since. Although Darrell Henderson Jr. and Royce Freeman have filled in well, the Rams are missing their second-year running back. Williams ran for 456 yards and six touchdowns on 97 carries before his injury.

Key to second half: Matthew Stafford staying healthy. Along with Williams, the Rams have missed a healthy quarterback for part of the season. Stafford played through a hip contusion before injuring his right thumb. The injury wasn’t as bad as the Rams feared, but backup Brett Rypien‘s performance in Green Bay emphasized how much this offense struggles without Stafford. — Sarah Barshop

Offensive coordinator: None

Playcaller: Kyle Shanahan

What has gone right? The 49ers have been one of the league’s most efficient offenses through nine games, ranking in the top five in scoring, yards and offensive expected points added, among other key metrics. Running back Christian McCaffrey has led the charge with quarterback Brock Purdy mostly picking up where he left off last season. When this unit is healthy, it has been one of the best in the NFL.

What has gone wrong? The Niners’ biggest offensive issue has been uneven line play. Aside from left tackle Trent Williams, the offensive linemen have struggled, especially in pass protection (the Niners are in the bottom third of the league in pass block win rate). One other issue: turnovers. The Niners had two giveaways in the first five games, but that has more than tripled since, with some coming with the game on the line.

Key to second half: McCaffrey has earned the right to be the offense’s focal point, but the Niners must find a way to work other backs into the mix to keep him fresh and healthy for the stretch run. He’s on pace for the third-highest snap count of his career, and with Jordan Mason and Elijah Mitchell, the Niners have others capable backs to help lighten the load. — Nick Wagoner

Offensive coordinator: Shane Waldron

Playcaller: Shane Waldron

What has gone right? Waldron has navigated a brutal stretch of injuries to the Seahawks’ offensive line in which their preferred starting five has missed a combined 16 starts through nine games. Despite that, they’re a respectable 15th in offensive points per game at 20.7. They’ve managed enough explosive plays to rank 10th in yards per play at 5.5.

What has gone wrong? Third down. The problem isn’t isolated to this season or even Waldron’s tenure as OC. The Seahawks have been lousy on third down since long before he arrived in 2021, but they haven’t been this bad in a while. Seattle ranks 30th in third-down conversions.

Key to second half: More play action. Smith has the sixth-best raw QBR on play-action plays. By comparison, he ranks 23rd in pure drop-back situations. Whether it’s the simplified reads or the effectiveness of the play fakes, there’s a clear difference in his production with play-action. But Seattle needs to have a credible running threat to maximize its play-action game. — Brady Henderson

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