Wait. What went WRONG with the Buffalo Bills’ run game in the AFC Championship? Skare, they averaged over seven yards per carry and gained 129 yards on the ground. Yeah. About that. Josh Allen accounted for 88 of those yards, 67 of which came on five scrambles. Devin Singletary, T.J. Yeldon, and Isaiah McKenzie gained 41 yards on 11 attempts for 3.7 yards per carry. League average this year was 4.4 yards per carry. So, what happened? Several things—and we’re about to look at them.
Dawson Knox being unable to maintain the block allows his man to cut in and make early contact with Devin Singletary. Darryl Williams gets solid push and even reaches the second level but no other blocker is winning their matchup. Well, Dion Dawkins but the play isn’t over there. Ike Boettger pulls, doesn’t impact Knox’s opponent and only gets a little bit of #54. Put it all together and it’s a three-yard run.
This play has very little to do with Devin Singletary’s ability and nearly everything to do with his blockers. For the most part they didn’t get it done.
And this is the opposite, with Singletary being the biggest factor. The play design allows for more wiggle room in blocking success as Singletary has options he can process as he approaches the line. Overall, everyone is doing OKAY with their blocks. At the line there’s a lot of stalemates with little push one way or the other. As a result there’s some opportunity but a lot of clutter.
Outside, Stefon Diggs has the corner locked up and much less clutter. The defender that Gabriel Davis may be trying to pull down the screen is a factor heading to the edge, but as you can see in the GIF, he was a factor cutting inside too.
Before we go too far into the “Buffalo Bills messed up” narrative let’s acknowledge that the Kansas City Chiefs came to play. This is a successful run as T.J. Yeldon’s four yards gained the first down the Bills were looking for. However that’s in no small part thanks to Yeldon being able to stay upright. There’s early contact as Dion Dawkins is beat by a phenomenal reaction. Yeldon had to work really hard for what should have been an easy first down.
You’ve heard the term that everyone should do their 1/11 and this is proof of the concept. I’m not even gonna talk about this one-yard gain. One. Yard. Gain.
Isaiah McKenzie averaged 4.5 yards per carry on his two tries so technically he was above average. This play needed one yard for the first down and they got it pretty comfortably. This design banks on McKenzie seeing a yard and willing it into existence like a kick return and he delivers.
Finally, here’s Singletary’s longest run of the game. This gained seven yards, tying a seven-yard run from Yeldon for the longest carry by not-Josh Allen. I’m partly including this play because seven yards being the longest carry by your feature back is…not ideal. I’m also including this play because, like the blocking examples, it’s not all bad from Singletary either. He makes a great decision here and gets what he can.
If you’re looking to point just ONE finger, point it at the word “inconsistent.” That applies pretty much across the board as errors popped up along the line, from the backs, and the tight ends. Add up all the miscues and that’s how you get to 3.7 yards per carry.