The Bills running game has been average at best, should we be worried?
The Bills are built as a pass-first team. However, it may surprise you to learn that they are 15th in the NFL for total yards rushing. At 221 yards they have run more than other teams like the Ravens, Cowboys, and Titans. That’s good news, and leading them are their two running backs, Devin Singletary, with 67 yards, and Josh Allen with 66 yards.
That’s correct, Josh is two yards away from being the rushing leader. The next closest running back is James Cook whose 55 yards came mostly in garbage time. Then finally in the rear is Zack Moss with 32 yards and Case Keenum with two. I think it’s fair to say although we’re only two weeks into the season the Bills aren’t concerned with their running game, and for good reason.
Passing Is Popular
Ever since 1977 NFL teams have been on average rushing less and less each season. From then on it took about another ten years before teams started passing more than they were rushing. Once the likes of Dan Marino, Joe Montana, John Elway, and Jim Kelly started playing it became more and more clear that the NFL is a passing league.
That doesn’t mean a running back can’t win you games, it just means they must be special like Derrick Henry or Adrian Peterson. Those guys only come along occasionally so for everyone else in the league they need to find themselves a decent passer. The good news for the Bills is they have the best in the NFL in Josh Allen.
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So long as Josh Allen is at the helm, the Bills will be a pass-first team; but as we all know Josh is going to run (and leap) whenever he feels like it. So, the Bills are in a special category of teams like the Ravens and the Eagles where it’s expected to see your quarterback take off and make a play with his legs. What you don’t expect is that quarterback to be six foot five and 237 pounds.
This means for Singletary, Moss, and Cook don’t have to perform in the upper echelon of running backs. All they need to do is do their job proficiently and most importantly don’t turn the ball over. Bills fans know that Singletary (affectionately called ‘Motor’ after his father) is good but he’s never going to break ankles like LeSean Mccoy or truck through defenders like Marshawn Lynch.
What he can do is sometimes find the holes in the line and most times fall forward for an additional yard or two. Last year he accrued almost 900 yards doing just that. For a team that is more concerned about the passing game that’s not half bad. If he can continue to run for a few yards, keep the ball in his hands, and help Josh with blocks he’s going to stay RB1 in Buffalo so long as the Bills can afford him.
RB2 is Zack Moss whose primary role is backup to Singletary (who you could almost say is a backup to Josh Allen) but is just about as competent a runner as him. He sometimes sees use as a goal line specialist but even that role recently has been taken by Josh. He now more commonly alternates for Singletary to keep him fresh and if Singletary gets picked up this off-season by another team it’s Moss that’s likely to take his place on the Bills roster.
The only other running back to consider is James Cook who as a rookie hasn’t played enough to evaluate his abilities. He had a great stretch of plays in the Titans game but that was when the Bills had already blown them out and both teams pulled their starters. His role will likely be mostly as a receiving back which means he’ll feature more in the passing game.
Don’t Sweat It
Most teams in the NFL are good at a few things and deficient in others. Teams like the Chiefs have an incredibly strong passing game but a middling defense. The Titans have (had) a great running game, but their pass protection and special teams aren’t so good. For the Bills, there’s not much to be concerned about over an average running game when they play so well in just about every other area.
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