Four weeks into the 2022 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills rank last in ESPN’s run block win rate percentage and rank as the heaviest passing offense in the league Buffalo has struggled with the running game the past three seasons, but with defenses increasing their use of Cover-2 defenses to limit deep passes, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey needs to keep finding ways to move the ball by the Countryside. That answer seems to lie in throwing the ball to running back Devin Singletary and letting him create some magic.
The rhetoric of “The short passing game is our running game” has changed this year, with the focused inclusion of Singletary as a valuable pass receiver. Let’s dive deeper into the advanced stats of this idea.
run me if you can
Plain and simple, Dorsey doesn’t trust his running game in favorable situations and has decided to fix the problem. There is no reason to expect her to continue to stick square pegs into round holes. Eight running backs have posted more carries than the entire Bills RB room combined. Buffalo remains the only team without a rushing touchdown by a running back. Learning from last year’s offense with Brian Daboll, Dorsey has abandoned running the ball in 2/3 and Short situations. Understandably, seeing as the pair of backs behind Singletary have inflated his numbers with a big run each, and Josh Allen is converting 50% of his scrambles and run attempts into first downs.
Through four games, Singletary is tied with Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler for the league lead among running backs in receptions producing first downs (9). But Singletary has done it with 10 fewer receptions. This mark ties Singletary’s total from each of his first two seasons, and puts him on track to break his career record last year (14).
According to professional soccer focus, is also third in the NFL with five forced tackle blows as a receiver, also on pace to surpass his previous career mark (10) out of the water. This kind of dynamic play from the backfield feels like finding the missing piece of the last two years. The statistics seem to back up the vision test. When Singletary receives the ball in open space, he seems to deliver positive results. When he or Moss runs down the middle, it feels like a wasted play, and it almost always is, as the Bills have produced only one run of 10 or more yards when running a running back among the tackles. The threat of Allen’s franchise legs and arm frees Singletary to take up the space where he opens up. Whether the defense is playing in a soft zone or attacking an extra man, there will be room to operate and make tacklers miss. This space doesn’t exist when the team attempts traditional running plays, and it poses a threat to both overly conservative and aggressive coaches.
“Save” is a strong word, but using Singletary more efficiently hides Buffalo’s running shortcomings and bolsters the passing attack with an elite control option. Dorsey has seen the Bills fail when forced to play in the short game, and this is the counter for him. Give the ball to your playmakers in space and let them make plays.