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15 - How will Buffalo's run game be different?

Posted Jul 13, 2017

Buffalo's run game has been wildly productive despite its use of multiple run concepts. That puts them in good position to effectively adapt to Rick Dennison's new offensive scheme.


Camp Countdown presented by M&T Bank will examine some of the more pressing issues facing the team on the field as they make their final preparations for the regular season. We also focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field. We’ll address these subjects one at a time until training camp begins. Here now is the latest daily installment as we carefully probe for some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 27th and the Sept. 10th opener at New Era Field against the New York Jets.

After two years as the top rushing team in football, the Bills enter 2017 with a new offensive coordinator, new offensive line coach and most importantly a new scheme to execute. Knowing how successful Buffalo’s run game has been the last two years, how much will Buffalo’s ground attack change under offensive coordinator Rick Dennison?

The answer is not much.

Over the past couple of seasons the Bills have made use of both inside and outside zone concepts in the run game with great success. In fact Pro Football Focus in charting team success in 2016 had the Bills first in the league in both outside and inside zone run production. Buffalo also made use of some gap scheme concepts, a sign of the offensive line’s versatility.

Under Dennison the zone scheme will be a prominent part of the Bills run game and provide LeSean McCoy with multiple holes to choose from on stretch plays and often provide him with a cutback lane to exploit. All those potential options for a back like McCoy has him excited about the possibilities.

“Last year we ran the ball very well. I’m blessed to have a great offensive line,” said McCoy. “Then you look at the offense, there are times when I’m watching tape of (former Houston running back) Arian (Foster) in this scheme and there are holes. Should I go left? Right? There are holes either way. With this offense they give you different options whether it’s inside or outside.

“When you want to stretch it, you can stretch it just enough to get the DBs where you want them so you can cut inside.”

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has run for more than 500 yards each of the last two seasons for the Bills doesn’t see a whole lot different in Buffalo’s new offense as it relates to their run game. The only change might be more opportunities for the fullback.

“It’s similar to what we were doing,” he said. “It allows Shady to get in space and the other backs that we have and it’ll use Pat (DiMarco) and (Mike) Tolbert out of the backfield as far as catching and allowing them to do what they do best which is going out and knocking somebody’s head off. It’s good for us.”

Dennison in reviewing game tape of the offense the past two seasons was intrigued with some of the run concepts employed by the previous coaching staff and the success the offense had in terms of execution and production. He has already worked to blend some of the more successful components of the team’s old scheme into his to take advantage of some things Buffalo’s offense has done consistently well in the run game.

“Certainly there are a few things that we’re doing that we watched on film that we didn’t do over the last couple of years. Some things that they did here that (offensive line coach) Juan (Castillo) and I have talked about in the run game that they’ve done very well that we’ll try to carry over,” said Dennison. “Whatever we think we need to do for the 2017 Buffalo Bills to move the ball, make first downs and win games.”

“A lot of the good runs we had last year on plays, we’re putting that together,” said McCoy. “That’s like being a kid in a candy store. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”

With all five starting linemen back from last year’s unit, a Pro Bowl running back showing no signs of slowing down and a Pro Bowl fullback in Pat DiMarco, and only subtle changes to the scheme, the run game figures to continue it’s dominance as one of the top yard producers in the league for a third straight season.

 

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