Though the Bills finished the 2020 season second in yards and points scored, it wasn’t because of their run game.
The Bills were slightly below average on the ground, netting 1,723 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Both figures ranked 20th in the league.
Devin Singletary, in his second year, led the club with 687 yards. But quarterback Josh Allen was arguably the team’s most effective runner, gaining 421 yards and eight TDs on the ground. Zack Moss also had 481 yards and four touchdowns, but got hurt in the team’s playoff victory over the Colts.
According to Bills offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, the biggest issue with Buffalo’s run game in 2020 was the amount of negative plays.
“Inherently, as a line coach, your kind of calling card, if you will, is, “Well, how did you run the ball?” I’m an old soul, but I may not be thoroughly old school in that train of thought,” Johnson said, via Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News. “At the end of the day, I want to block wherever’s called how we want it to be blocked. But from the running game standpoint, we just need to get better at running the ball efficiently. I don’t get caught up in the volume. I don’t get caught up in how many times you call [a run play]. You do whatever it takes to win.
“Last year, full transparency, we had too many negative runs, and that falls directly on my shoulders, whether it be the players weren’t put in the best position schematically from a run standpoint, or whether they just didn’t get the job done and our technique was flawed. When we looked at it very critically, that was the issue: our effectiveness was impeded by the fact that we had too many negative runs. So, at the end of the day, the goal is to run the ball efficiently, and that’s a matter of, when you do call it, eliminate the negative runs with a hat for a hat and gain positive yardage and stay ahead of the chains, if you will. That’s what we’re working on right now and that’s going to be the goal moving forward. It’s an efficient run game, not necessarily a volume run game.”
The Bills have significant continuity returning on offense, which should create a comfort level throughout the team. While Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs will likely continue to pace the offense, Buffalo needs to improve its run game to help close the gap with the Chiefs.