Inside The Bills

Don’t blame the run game

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2009 – 12:09 pm

With third down conversions a major focus for the Bills in their bye week, I came across some interesting figures.

As we mention in today’s story on the home page (Offense focused on moving the sticks) converting on third and short has been one of the biggest problems. Further proof that the run game is doing it’s job are the following numbers.

On first down this season the run game is averaging 3.91 yards per carry. On second down its averaging 4.18 yards per carry. Those add up to 8.09 yards combined, leaving a lot of third and shorts to convert, but they still haven’t happened.

I realize that the Bills aren’t running on every first and second down, but the figures are even better in terms of average gains on first and second down when Buffalo is passing. On first down they’re averaging 5.41 yards per pass play. On second down its an average of 4.79. Nothing fantastic granted, but those two averages together make for 10.20 yards gained, which is a first down without even the need for a third down play.

The worst combination of run and pass from the first and second down averages equals 8.70 yards. It still leaves third and short, but converting in short yardage has been difficult. It’s what has the Bills ranked 30th in third down conversion percentage (26%). Incomplete passes have been the biggest problem and there are more errant throws than drops. Sacks (yes, sacks on third and short) are part of the problem too.

Hopefully the Bills rectified a lot of what has ailed them on third down in their two bye week practices and their execution improves in the second half because the Bills are robbing themselves of extra offensive plays on the field each week by not converting. Last week was a perfect example. Buffalo was 2-10 on third downs and as a result had just 45 offensive plays in the game compared to 76 for Houston, which accounted for the disaparity in time of possession as well (Houston – 39:08, Buffalo 20:52).


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