ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Despite multiple failures throughout the 2015 season, one aspect of Buffalo’s game has flourished throughout the year — the run game.
Despite Rex Ryan’s allegiance to defense, he can at least be partially credited for the success, putting intense focus on the run game from day one.
But Buffalo’s off-season moves also augmented the run, starting with the selection of Karlos Williams in the 2014 Draft at the 155th position. Williams seemed to be, throughout his rookie season, a key piece to the Bills puzzle.
Williams knocked in eight touchdowns thus far, and likely would have scored more if he didn’t sustain a concussion, forcing him to miss playing time.
The drafting of Williams made up for the release of veteran Freddy Jackson, a sore spot with fans as the season began.
But Williams is just a piece of the puzzle. LeSean McCoy also had a pro bowl season, justifying what Buffalo gave up for him in the trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, also meriting the team’s parting of ways with C.J. Spiller.
Cap those moves off with the decision to move forward with Tyrod Taylor, the most mobile quarterback in Buffalo Bills history — a record secured on Sunday in the win over the Cowboys after he breached 480 rushing yards in his first year — and the Bills have a ground force to be reckoned with.
When Tyrod Taylor isn’t throwing the ball, he’s able to draw off defenders with just the threat of him rushing. But he can also secure pivotal first downs when they’re needed.
“Sometimes on third downs you have to go get them with your feet,” Taylor said Sunday after the Bills prevailed over the Cowboys with over 200 yards on the ground.
It’s not just the players, though, it’s also the coaches who have a huge impact over the mindset of their running backs. Each running back has complimented Anthony Lynn, the position coach, but it means slightly more when it comes from a quarterback.
“Our coaches are really good at scheming for our running backs,” Taylor said just minutes after Ryan complimented Lynn.
The high praise comes because the run game has been injured and half strength as Williams, McCoy and Taylor have missed games this season, but it still has made strides, scoring 15 touchdowns in 2015 so far and taking pressure off a still shaky passing game.
Coaching successes have allowed the team to even bring on new members and allow them to succeed. Running back Mike Gillislee has made a huge mark on the team in just a few short weeks.
Ryan called Gillislee the “fastest slow guy I’ve ever seen,” in reference to his slow run time in the combine, but Gillislee has the ability to elevate his speed, at times looking more like McCoy than a third string running back.
The overall success of the game on the ground leaves the Bills with hope for the future, as it looks like most of the talent will return to the team in the next season, perhaps save for Booby Dixon, who has seen limited reps and hasn’t seen much success in the current season.
Success in the run game means the Bills have one less thing to be concerned about, and will be able to plan accordingly as they look to the future.
That means the Bills will have time to address a faltering defense, a less than established passing game and a special teams group that committed numerous, gut-wrenching penalties.