The Buffalo Bills' run defense has been a point of contention for multiple years. The last time the team's run defense was ranked in the top ten in yards allowed was 2004. This year, the Bills reached a new low, finishing last in the NFL in several key defensive categories.
After New York's fifty-rush outburst in the season finale, the Bills blew away the competition in most rushes against. While the Pittsburgh Steelers led the NFL in fewest opposition rushes with 333, the Bills were rushed on 571 times. A combination of being down in games, poor offensive execution, and a bad run defense all led to this high figure. For historical perspective, no team in ten years has faced more rushing attempts than the 2010 Bills.
When you see that Buffalo's defense saw 40 more rushes than the second-worst Denver Broncos, it might be easy to assume that the Bills' run defense was the worst in terms of yards allowed. You'd be right on that count, as well. Buffalo's run defense allowed 2,714 rushing yards, or almost 170 yards per game. Pittsburgh barely allowed 1,000 yards, averaging less than 63 allowed per game. The Bills were 883 yards above the league average in 2010.
That all makes sense. You saw more rushes, so you should give up more yards. If you were still willing to make excuses for Buffalo's run defense, now's the time to stop.
Yards per attempt removes all the variables in play. It takes into account yards and rushing attempts to give a true picture of a team's effectiveness. Pittsburgh allowed a bare-bones 3.0 yards per carry this season. Where was Buffalo? Dead last at 4.8 yards per carry. If an opponent ran against the Steelers three times, they would net nine yards on average; against Buffalo, they would gain over 14 yards and a first down. This is the only stat where Buffalo has someone even in the neighborhood. At 4.75 yards per attempt, they squeaked out last place ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4.74.
Looking at individual games, the numbers get even more staggering. The Bills held three teams under 100 yards rushing in 2010; the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions, and the Miami Dolphins. On the other side of the coin, they allowed 200 or more yards on the ground eight times. In two games against the New York Jets, they allowed 273 and 276 yards, and against the Kansas City Chiefs gave up 274.
Despite holes at virtually every position on both offense and defense, the Bills must address the front seven this off-season as they build for the future. Only one team in the bottom quarter in the league in rushing defense made the playoffs (Indianapolis).