The Buffalo Bills led the league in rushing yards for the second consecutive year in 2016, finishing with 2,630 yards. Can the team improve on that?
The Buffalo Bills have boasted the greatest rushing attack in the NFL over the past two seasons and even ended up finishing with the third most rushing yards in one season in team history. Unfortunately, a lot has changed in Buffalo and it could threaten their chances at a three-peat.
But we’re not just talking about being the best rushing attack in the NFL, we are discussing whether or not the Buffalo Bills can improve on their 2,630 yards rushing they put up last season. Although I sincerely hope it happens, I have a tough time figuring out how it could.
The truth is, the only similarities between last season’s rushing attack and this season’s rushing attack is Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy. Luckily, those are the two most valuable pieces to the puzzle. The bad news is, those two weren’t the main reason Buffalo had such a strong rushing attack.
Mike Gillislee was hands down the best backup running back in the NFL over the past two seasons. Now off to the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills needed to find someone to fill his role this season. So far, it looks like Jonathan Williams will be that guy. Williams could certainly come in and do much of the same things Gillislee did, but it won’t be a guarantee like it was with Touchdown Mike.
Here’s a look at the totals from last year:
LeSean McCoy: 1,267 yards, 234 attempts
Tyrod Taylor: 580 yards, 95 attempts
Mike Gillislee: 577 yards, 101 attempts
Jonathan Williams: 94 yards, 27 attempts
Tate/Manuel/Schmidt/Felton/Harvin/Woods: 116 yards, 22 attempts
Cardale Jones & Reggie Bush: -4 yards, 13 attempts
Together, the group totaled 2,630 yards off 492 attempts. I can be pretty safe in saying that only McCoy, Taylor and Williams will contribute this season — out of that group. If McCoy and Taylor have similar seasons, they will total 1,847 yards — leaving them 784 yards away from breaking that 2,630 number.
Can Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, Patrick DiMarco, Joe Banyard, etc. make up for that slack? I highly doubt so. I can see the rest of the team maybe pitching in about 400 yards and I can see Taylor/McCoy combining for about 2,000 yards — but that’s about as high as I can go.
Either way, I still think the Buffalo Bills will be one of the top rushing attacks in the league, due to keeping their identity as a run-first team. They could even compete for that three-peat, which would be something special. Currently, only the Chicago Bears have led the league in rushing more times than the Bills.
The Bears have led the league in rushing a total of 16 times, but haven’t done it since 1986. The Buffalo Bills have done it 9 times and are the next closest team to the Bears. For a look back, the Bills did it in 1962, 1964, 1973, 1975, 1982, 1991, 1992, 2015 and 2016.
Do you think the Buffalo Bills can improve on their rushing total from last season? Leave your predictions below!