Inside The Bills

Where Bills run ‘D’ is getting hurt

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2009 – 12:24 pm

Looking at a statistical analysis of Buffalo’s run defense it’s clear where their opponents are getting their chunk yardage on the ground.

Sure you can make the argument that their run defense struggles everywhere, but the numbers breakdown through the first eight games shows that their opponents are getting their biggest gains on the outside. Here’s the breakdown of where across Buffalo’s defensive front, from largest average gain to lowest, their opponents are most successful.

Bills left end – avg. gain 7.31 yards – (NFL rank 31st) – 29 plays
Bills right flank – avg. gain 7.08 yards – (NFL rank 27th) – 25 plays 
Bills left flank – avg. gain 6.81 yards – (NFL rank 25th) – 16 plays
Bills right interior – avg. gain 5.87 yards – (NFL rank 26th) – 46 plays
Bills right end – avg. gain 4.77 yards – (NFL rank 27th) – 31 plays  
Bills left interior – avg. gain 4.5 yards (NFL rank 25th) – 34 plays
Bills middle – avg. gain 4.23 yards (NFL rank 17th) – 78 plays 

What does it all mean? Tough to say. Sometimes overpursuit, which the Bills have been guilty of a number of times this season, leads to a cutback run to the opposite edge and a big gainer where nobody’s home. And that will bump up the average (e.g. Thomas Jones 60-plus yard run to the Bills left side in Week 6). Other times it is poor tackling or just getting beat on a play.

I’m just surprised the average gains are so large on the edges because this defensive scheme is based on flying to the football and pursuit. They have faster linebackers by design. We’d have to see every run play outside to see if speed to the ball is being hindered in some way, either by linemen getting to the second level or by poor reads or some other factor.

Regardless none of these numbers are all that good. They need to whittle some of these averages to under four yards per carry if the run defense is going to make any kind of noticeable improvements in the season’s second half.


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