What’s wrong with the Buffalo Bills run game? The formation is giving it away.
Now let me explain here as that sentence can be a trigger for me to get heat on Josh Allen, Brian Daboll, or whoever you think I’m complaining about. The thing is, the Bills spent 71% of their offensive snaps in 11 personnel, or with 3 WR’s on the field. With Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley working well together, who can blame them?
Buffalo only ran the ball 36% of the time out of their most-used set, and had a success rate of 53%, according to sharpfootballstats.com. The only other formation that the Bills used was 10 personnel, which is 4WR/1RB. The problem with this is that the offense is telegraphing their plays way before the actual game. Knowing these numbers ahead of time is something that’s definitely used by defensive coordinators at all levels in the week leading up to the game.
Another downside of this main formation is that you only have one TE on the field. Common sense would be to run to the TE (the strength) side, but most teams already know that. The TE is SO important in getting the EMOL (End man on the line of scrimmage) at least reached on a running play, or holding up that defender long enough until an OL can takeover.
Take a look at the play below, and you’ll see how effective a TE can be.
Yes, I know it’s the Patriots. But Gronk (left side of the film) has done it for so long for a reason. All that really happens on this play is that Gronkowski “chips” the EMOL, and then is headed to the second level to get a hat on an LB.
For a running back, all you need to see is your blockers actually engaged and turn their hips. This is what GREAT blocking by TEs. Gronk turns his hips, washing the defender out of the play, and tells the RB which way he’s going. Talk to anyone who’s ever played RB, and they’ll tell you that their job is easier when this happens.
This is a really long (but necessary) way to understand how it works in the trenches. So if Buffalo continually ran towards the strength, then it’s even twice as telegraphed. Staying in 11 personnel also puts pressure on your receivers to block. That’s our next category.