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Diggs' drop in production is a concern in Buffalo, though offset by the Bills' winning record

Stefon Diggs Stefon Diggs - The Canadian Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — No one is disputing Stefon Diggs’ status as the Buffalo’ Bills top playmaker. And quarterback Josh Allen once again insisted Wednesday it's important to get Diggs more involved in the offense.

But all the talk lauding the receiver’s ability doesn't match the sudden drop in his production over the past six weeks.

So what gives?

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into that,” Allen explained.

Buffalo (10-6) closes the regular season Sunday night with a critical showdown at Miami (11-5). The AFC East title — and potentially the Bills’ playoff chances — hang in the balance after they climbed back into postseason contention with Diggs playing a diminished role.

“Obviously, there’s times where he wants the ball and deservedly so. He’s one of the best, if not the best, receivers in the game,” Allen said. “He gets a lot of attention from defenses, so sometimes it’s just how it plays out. But I've got to be better in that aspect, too.”

Bills coach Sean McDermott echoed Allen’s comments by saying, “It’s a little bit here, a little bit there.”

The coach then suggested the focus on Diggs’ numbers is overblown.

“I understand you guys want to make it about this thing over here, and that is important because it does help us win,” McDermott said, referring to the media. “At the same time, it’s about making sure we’re going with the ball where we need to go with the ball, and we’re moving the chains and scoring points. So that’s the goal.”

McDermott has a point. Coincidentally or not, the Bills have won four straight games and five of six with Diggs producing less.

Following a 24-22 loss to Denver on Nov. 13 that dropped Buffalo to 5-5, Diggs was tied with Keenan Allen for the NFL lead with 73 catches. He was tied for second with seven touchdown receptions and ranked sixth with 868 yards receiving.

Six games later, the Bills are 10-6, and Diggs has plummeted down the rankings with only 27 catches for 228 yards and a score since.

Buffalo’s running attack has made up part of the difference, with James Cook averaging 20 more yards from scrimmage since Week 11.

Also playing a role is Allen spreading the ball in finding secondary threats.

Khalil Shakir has doubled his yards receiving total to 506 over the past six weeks. During the same span, tight end Dalton Kincaid has 21 catches for 199 yards, while receiver Gabe Davis has 12 catches for 256 yards and two scores.

Playing time has also been an issue, with Diggs sitting out 83 of Buffalo’s 192 offensive snaps over the past three games.

Interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady said that’s partially on him, and partially by design to keep Diggs rested. Brady said he missed an opportunity to get Diggs back on the field to open the second half Sunday, when the receiver stood on the sideline watching Buffalo cap a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive in a 27-21 win over New England.

“Look, I know we’re better when Stef’s on the field,” said Brady, whose promotion after Ken Dorsey was fired following the loss to Denver coincided with Diggs’ slipping numbers. “I have to continue working through finding ways to get (the ball) to him regardless. It’s nothing Stef isn’t doing.”

Diggs hasn’t spoken to reporters in three weeks, since saying he was frustrated by constant double-team coverage. While saying it's smart for opposing defenses to do so, he stressed it doesn't make him happy.

“I try to motivate guys. And I can’t be in a low spirit or low energy. ... And part of that kind of uplifts myself,” Diggs said about trying to remain upbeat. “But it’s damn sure frustrating. I’m not going to lie. I get furious out there.”

Even so, with four catches on Sunday, Diggs reached 100 this season and became the third NFL player to have four or more consecutive seasons with 100 receptions, joining Antonio Brown (2013-18) and Marvin Harrison (1999-2002).

Veteran cornerback and practice-squad member Josh Norman, whose locker is two down from Diggs, can see both sides of the picture.

“He’s a big part of the offense. Think about it, I saw on one video where he took three guys with him,” Norman said. “But people don’t see that. They see, ‘Oh, Stef ain’t got a catch.’"

He also understands Diggs’ frustration, stemming from his competitive drive.

“He’s getting paid handsomely. I’m sure he’s going to be OK,” Norman said.

“But the inner spirit, the warrior spirit, that’s something that’s completely different. You can’t control that. That’s not about money,” Norman added. “It’s about going out and proving you’re the best every single time.”