Bills Rushing Attack Negligibly Better After Lynch Trade

BALTIMORE MD - OCTOBER 24: Fred Jackson #22 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 24 2010 in Baltimore Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bills 37-34. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

In their past two games - both occurring after the trade of running back Marshawn Lynch - the Buffalo Bills are averaging 30 points per game offensively. When your team is that productive on one side of the ball, impressions tend to get blurred. Case in point: with Lynch out of the picture in the backfield, the general consensus is that Buffalo's rushing attack has gotten more efficient with just two backs sharing the workload (Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller).

That's not really the case. We're just getting more of it.

Prior to the Lynch trade, over a span of four games, Buffalo's three running backs combined for 75 rushing yards per game on an average of 17.8 attempts (good for a 4.2 yard-per-carry average). Since the trade, Jackson and Spiller are now combining to average 23.5 rushing attempts per game - a rather healthy spike. The rushing average has increased a touch, with the two backs rushing for 4.5 yards per clip (at an average of 105 yards per game).

Mistakes are still being made, however. There is still a boom-or-bust nature to Buffalo's rushing game. Prior to the trade, Buffalo's running backs had nine runs of 10 or more yards in four games, but also had 11 runs that were stopped for loss. That trend has not gone away with Lynch, as Jackson and Spiller have five runs of 10 or more yards in the past two games, but another eight that have been stopped behind the line of scrimmage.

Individually, Jackson and Spiller have seen increases in production, but that's not unexpected in the least, considering they're getting more work with Lynch in Seattle. Spiller, in particular, has been more efficient, as his per-carry average has jumped by nearly two yards since the Lynch trade, with two of his three runs of 10 or more yards coming in the last two games.

An increase in the efficiency of the passing offense has helped Buffalo run more than they did early in the season on the ground. So, too, has an increase in the team's ability to move the chains; their third down conversion rate has skyrocketed a whopping 24% over the last two games. That explains the increase in the rushing workload from the team perspective, but not much has changed from a production standpoint with Lynch out of the picture. That's neither a good thing nor a bad thing - to not lose production when trading a former first-round pick is a win for the team, but the team still could stand to get better on the ground.

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