The 2016 Buffalo Bills struggled mightily defending the run. They were ranked 29th on defense and, according to Krossover, gave up 6.3 yards per carry to off-tackle rushes.
This shouldn’t surprise Bills fans. The Bills had rookie Adolphus Washington playing a prominent role as a 3-4 defensive end. Washington played 330 snaps, and his biggest issue coming out of college was stopping the run. That inconsistency was readily apparent on film. Here, he gets manhandled by a tight end.
Gresham doesn’t get a lot of respect, look at him handle Dolph. Not bad pad level but use your length and hands..Watch Kyle he leads w hands pic.twitter.com/ZFU3RwMSJ3
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) August 3, 2017
Jerry Hughes also struggled versus the run last season. According to Pro Football Focus, he had the worst year of his career against the run in 2016. In fact, he was the worst-graded run defender on Buffalo’s defense. The position change to outside linebacker did not turn out the way that Ryan expected. Instead, Hughes was asked to carry out responsibilities that really neutralized his speed, quickness, and agility. You could often see him thinking on plays, preventing him to be his disruptive self.
The Bills faced 56 runs off-tackle to the defense’s left, and 24 of those plays progressed five yards or more. It didn’t matter if there were 6 or 7 players in the box; the Bills’ defenders struggled.
Sluggish reaction, players out of position, and really bad tackling led to a forgettable season against the run in 2016, especially off-tackle.
Here are a few plays exhibiting why we struggled.
Let’s hope that changing back to a 4-3 defense will get more out of the Bills’ players and ultimately rejuvenate the Bills’ run defense.