I cannot say i write this strategic vision because I believe it will happen, but I do hope it will happen. And even if it does not get expressed in terms of the percentages I prefer, I still think the Bills best chance against the Jets will come from a run first approach, with the pass viewed as being set up by the run, as opposed to the alternative. Below, I give a brief overview of why I hope to see a run first offense Sunday.
The Buffalo Bills have spent much of the offseason trying to improve their defensive line with expensive free agent acquisitions. One of the critical factors motivating this investment was to generate a better pass rush, which was largely non existent last season. Of course, what was the most impressive preseason moment for the Bills was how successful the defensive line was in shutting down the smash mouth running game of the Steelers in the first half of the 3rd preseason game at The Ralph. Were it not for a long third down completion to a running back along the left sideline with less than two minutes to go in the first half, the Bills defense would have been praised for its performance largely based on their stuffing the run. But because of the passing of Big Ben in the two minute drill, the Bills defense was exposed for its weak pass defense. Still, what was encouraging was the high level of difficulty Pittsburgh faced running the ball against the 1st team defense of the Bills.
When the Bills play the Jets on Sunday, much of the pregame focus will be on how Fitz handles the Jets and their highly regarded blitz based pass rush and multiple disguised coverages off of the blitz rush. Many fans assume the secret to success for the Bills offense will come from their ability to beat the blitz. My take is different. I think the most important offensive challenge facing the Bills is establishing the run game in order to set up the passing game. If the Bills can rely on their offensive line to create enough space for Jackson and Spiller to consistently churn out 4, 5, and 6 or more yards per carry, the Bills passing game will have the space to thrive.
Chan Gailey has been criticized for failing to use the running game more in general, but against the Jets the Bills have struggled running the ball in recent contests. But with a better Bills defense and a suspect Jets offense on the other side, it makes sense for the Bills to challenge the Jets to demonstrate they can stop our running attack before we start depending on Fitz to beat the blitz and their well disguised coverages.
I am not optimistic the Bills will give the running game enough of a chance to demonstrate its potential prowess, but for me the key to offensive success will come down to how successful the Bills run the ball with their two most dynamic players on offense, Jackson and Spiller.
If the Bills do establish the run, it could be a long day for the Jets defense. Much of the Jets recent success against the Bills has been a product of their running the ball well against our defense and shutting down our running attack. If the Bills are going to win one on the road this Sunday, look for the running game tables to be turned in Buffalo's favor.
In my view, a strong Buffalo running game on offense and a strong Buffalo run defense will be the decisive difference in beating the Jets this Sunday. If the Bills rely too heavily on the pass and abandon the run, I think the odds for a Bills victory this Sunday are reduced. This is not a reflection of my confidence in Fitz, but rather my take on what gives the Bills the best chance to score one more point than the Jets this Sunday.
Pound the Rock with Freddie and CJ, Chan!