The Buffalo Bills finished the 2016 season with 29 rushing touchdowns, setting a new franchise record for most in a single season.
The Buffalo Bills had a historic rushing attack last season that included more than just repeating as NFL rushing champions. During Week 15 vs. the Cleveland Browns, the team rushed for 3 touchdowns and broke the franchise record for most rushing touchdowns in a single season.
The old record was held by the 1975 Buffalo Bills, who posted 26 rushing touchdowns during that season. That was a roster that included O.J. Simpson, who finished with 23 touchdowns on the season.
The new franchise record will sit at 29 rushing touchdowns in a single season, but this performance was much more of a team effort. Four different players scored at least one rushing touchdown, but it was the backup running back and quarterback that made the difference.
By season’s end, LeSean McCoy had racked up an impressive 13 touchdowns — the second most of his career, behind the 17 he had in 2011. Mike Gillislee would contribute with 8 touchdowns, while Tyrod Taylor finished with 6 — both career highs.
We can’t forget about that one touchdown that Reggie Bush had, as well. It was a one-yard touchdown that came against the Miami Dolphins in Week 7.
With a new season, comes new opportunity. Will the 2017 Buffalo Bills be able to surpass last season’s rushing touchdown total of 29 and set another franchise record?
Personally, I don’t think so. That’s not to discredit what I think they’ll achieve this season in the run-game, but what they were able to do last season was just unreal. There are several reasons why I don’t see it happening, but the main one is Mike Gillislee.
The Gillislee Factor
There’s a reason the young running back earned the nickname Touchdown Mike and TD Mike — he cashed in almost every time he touched the ball. We’re talking about a player that scored 8 touchdowns on just 101 attempts.
That means Mike Gillislee scored a touchdown every 13 snaps — not bad for a backup running back. Of course, he is now in New England with Stephon Gilmore, which means we won’t have his instant offense anymore.
If the Buffalo Bills want to set a franchise record in 2017, several things will need to happen:
LeSean McCoy will need to mirror, if not do better, than his 13 touchdowns last season. That right there is asking a little too much, but we all know LeSean McCoy and we can all agree that it’s possible. We also know that he wouldn’t back down from the challenge until the season ends.
If McCoy can do that, he will definitely do his part in breaking the franchise record again.
Heavy Production From Taylor
Tyrod Taylor did a great job of finding the endzone on the ground last season. Buffalo will need more of that in 2017, if not more. I know there were several rushes he had last year that could’ve ended in a touchdown, but didn’t.
Taylor will need to continue proving that he’s the most mobile quarterback in the NFL.
Jonathan Williams/Mike Tolbert
These two will be the difference makers this season. It’s well-known that Williams is the favorite to land the backup running back gig this season — and Tolbert will be called upon for some goal-line opportunities this season.
I don’t think Williams will duplicate what Gillislee was able to do (8 touchdowns), but I do think he has enough playmaking ability to find the endzone several times this season. I also believe Mike Tolbert can cash in a few times when called upon — he’s too tough to bring down.
In the end, I don’t see the 2017 Buffalo Bills breaking the franchise record for the second straight season. I can see LeSean McCoy bringing in another 13 touchdowns and Tyrod Taylor contributing with 5. That puts the team at 18.
I’ll give Williams 4 touchdowns and Tolbert 2 touchdowns, putting the total at 24 touchdowns — which is still an impressive number. However, it’s 6 away from that franchise record and I don’t see anything breaking that barrier.
I do still believe this will be an impressive season for the Bills’ rushing attack.
How many touchdowns do you think the Buffalo Bills will score this season on the ground? Leave your predictions below!