The Drive Killers

I compiled the following data in 14 of the 16 games (recorder took a dump in the Broncos and Jags games). My intent was to see who was killing drives for the Bills. Was a particular player or position stopping Buffalo from scoring a TD 89% of drives? Well, here are the results. Crack open a beer and grab some munchies because I tend to be long winded.

There were some odds and ends I tracked through the season (not counting the Denver or Jags games) and I also kept an eye on who was killing drives.

It should surprise no one that Edwards killed more drives than anyone else. After all, he touched the ball more than anyone else. He stopped 31 of 154 (20.1%) drives through bad passes, INTs, intentional grounding penalties, etc. To be completely fair, his percentage of killed drives is actually higher because he wasn't in for all 154 drives. Taking out the 30 total drives in the Bengals, Miami and Pats raises his percentage to (25%). Throw in the first drive in the first Pats game and the last 4 against the Jets and his percentage is actually 26.1%. Losman looks good at first blush. He killed 11 drives which would count for 7.1%....except that he was only in for about 35 drives. That puts his killed percentage at 31.4% of the drives he actually played. Basically, Edwards killed 1 drive in 4 and Losman killed almost 1 drive in 3. Together they killed 42 of 154 (27.3%) of Buffalo's drives. Interestingly, Losman was marginally more accurate than Edwards (63% to 56%) but Losman killed a greater percentage of drives by being inaccurate or making bad decisions when it really mattered. The bottom line is that Buffalo needs better play from the QB position.

Bills receivers and tight ends added to the killed drives. Royal killed 5.5 drives (3.6%) with drops or poor blocking. Gaines killed 3 drives (2.0%) and Schouman, in limited action, killed 0.5 drive (0.3%). Reed killed 6.5 drives (4.2%), almost exclusively due to drops. He may have done better with hanging onto the ball this year but the drops he had were drive killers. Evans killed 5 drives (3.3%), one of which was a rather grievous holding penalty on a long Lynch run. Parrish killed 3.5 drives (2.3%). All told, the tight ends and receivers killed 23 drives (14.9%). The QBs, while needing to play better, could really use some better play from their receiving options.

For anyone whining about Lynch being the problem, he killed 2 drives (1.3%). That's amazing to me as he touched the ball 298 times. He had more touches than anyone else on the team and killed only 2 drives. The man is a stud! Wright killed 1 drive (0.7%) on 32 touches. Jackson killed 2.5 drives (1.6%) on 80 touches, at least one of which was actually a missed blitz pick up. Everyone's favorite whipping boy, the A-Train, killed 3 drives (2.0%) on 51 touches. Combined, the RBs killed 8.5 drives (5.5%). I don't see that as a negative result given that they had 3 ways to kill drives--running, receiving, blocking. Sure, RB play can improve but it isn't what is holding the offense back.

When I started out doing the offensive line breakdowns this year I was certain that the line would kill off more drives than anyone else. Imagine my surprise. Peters killed 6 drives (3.9%), Dock killed 4 (2.6%), Fowler killed 10 (6.5%), Butler killed 2 (1.3%), Walker killed 5 (3.3%), Preston killed 0.5 (0.3%) and Chambers killed 2 (1.3%). Preston and Chambers saw limited action so the percentages of the drives they killed are quite a bit higher than it shows when laid against the backdrop of the 154 drives I looked at. Butler again shined, killing off the smallest percentage of drives by the starting linemen. Fowler, on the other hand, killed off more drives than the entire group of RBs. As a whole, the offensive line killed 29.5 drives (19.2%).

Buffalo had 14 drives (9.1%) finish at the end of the half or the end of the game. When the Bills had the ball with some time, some timeouts, were behind and simply ran out the clock I counted it as a drive killed by coaching. Coaching was blamed for killing drives when they ran out the clock when any normal person would have mounted a drive or when they made a horrible call (3rd and goal from the 10....let's run!). Coaching killed 12 drives (7.8). 7 drives (4.6%) were killed by craptacular calls--or non calls--by the refs. I was actually surprised that came out so low. What happened the other 11% of the time? Buffalo scored a TD. 17 out of 154 (11%) drives finished in the end zone. That's just not going to get the job done.

As promised, here are the odds and ends. The QBs dropped back 433 times (30.9 per game) but only got the ball off 384 (27.4 per game) times. What happened the other 49 times? Well, they were sacked 23 (1.6 per game) times and scrambled 16 (1.1 per game) times. The remaining 10 were penalties which cancelled out the plays--on the offense or defense. Putting the penalties aside, the QBs couldn't get the ball off 9% of the time. Sometimes there was good coverage, sometimes the QB had a decision making disorder and other times protection simply broke down. Buffalo ran 384 (27.4 per game) times and had 68 penalties (4.9 per game) in those 14 games. That's about the balance (30.9 passes, 27.4 runs per game) I'd expect from a conservative coach like Jauron. In watching the line closely, by the way, I rarely saw penalties that could have been called and weren't. The line has been well coached in terms of avoiding penalties. The Bills averaged 25.7 yards per drive (season lowlight was against the Giants when Buffalo managed just 15 yards per drive). Tack on Moorman's 40ish yard net average and you can see why the Bills defense gave up a lot of yards (363 per game) and not a lot of points (22.1 per game). The offense did just enough to help out the defense, just not enough to help itself. I was somewhat surprised to find that the Bills were blitzed only 42.5% of the time. With a rookie or a rattled young vet behind center I would have thought opposing defensive coordinators would have thrown more than 4 guys into the pass rush more often. The 8-in-the-box stat is simply galling at 50% of run plays. Teams definitely loaded up to stop Lynch because they just weren't afraid of being beaten by the pass. Given the 7-9 record you can't say they were wrong. Edwards stared down his receivers 97 of his 289 drop backs (Remember, I count sacks, scrambles and penalties in the total drop back numbers.) which comes out to 33.6%. That's much lower than I thought it would be and, looking week by week, it's clear that he got better about it as he gained experience.  

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of