Buffalo Bills need reliable rushing offense for deep playoff run

Josh Allen

Josh Allen
Image: Getty Images

A couple’s ability to get along when they’re marooned away from home due to travel issues is an indication of the strength (or weakness) of their bond. External turmoil forges or breaks a relationship, and this hastily written analogy is where the Bills are at as a team and in real life.

Buffalo had to tunnel its way out of feet of snow to play a home game in Detroit, and has been in the Motor City ever since due to a Thanksgiving matchup with the Lions. While Josh Allen was able to end his streak of two-interception games, he failed to surpass 200 yards in the air while doing so.

There have been a few “What’s wrong with Allen pieces?” written lately, which is always the case when an MVP candidate has a stretch like Allen’s the past month. In his last four starts, he has four TDs to six picks, only one game over 250 yards passing, and has been sacked 11 times. Before that, he boasted a 17-4 TD-INT ratio, only had one game with less than 250 yards through the air, and had been sacked nine times in six contests.

Certainly, the Bills’ current offensive malaise is partly on Allen. However, I’d like to point out that he’s hurt and also leading the team in rushing even though he only managed seven yards Sunday.

Here’s a stat for you. Last year, Allen led the team in rushing six times all season. He’s done that through just 10 games this year. The Bills are ninth in the NFL in ground production at 134 per outing, yet if you subtract the QB’s 48 YPG, it’s in the 80s. I know. I know. No. 17 is QB in a tight end’s body.

However, he’s not indestructible. His rushes and yards per carry numbers the past few years have been Cam Newton-esque, with a little over 100 attempts per year and anywhere from low 400s to mid 700s in any given season.

At his current pace, the Bills QB will finish near the 122 rushes he had last year, a career-high. That’s a lot of mileage for a guy who’s not as shifty as Lamar Jackson. In order to not have his career fall off due to a litany of injuries like what happened with Cam, the running back spot and scheme need to be better.

There are 25 backs with more yards this season than Buffalo starter Devin Singletary, and he’s basically splitting reps with just Allen, who has three more yards on 39 fewer carries. That shouldn’t be a surprise after hearing the signal-caller has led the team in rushing six of 10 weeks, yet it’s still jarring.

Singletary and James Cook, the rookie out of Georgia, tallied 86 yards apiece against the Browns, which was a season-high for both players. Next to 175 in the loss against Minnesota in Week 10, Buffalo’s 171 in Week 11 was the most in a game this year, and it all came from the guys designated to do it.

Perhaps Buffalo has discovered something during their extended stay in Detroit. The Lions have the third-worst defense against the run in the NFL, and I can’t imagine a better way for the Bills and their fans to end a chaotic week than with a comfortable win that’s sealed some time in the third quarter by a running back, and not the dinged up face of the franchise.

After a shaky first half in a home away from home game, it appeared that the Bills were in jeopardy of fracturing. A strong second half in the trenches may be just what they need to start rolling again.

Who knows, maybe instead of constant bickering over seat assignments and accommodations, a more traditional running game is their version of mahjong or a sexual awakening or whatever bond it is that’s forged through hard times in relationships.

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