[Note by Brian Galliford, 05/10/08 9:48 AM EDT ] Curious to know more about the Buffalo Bills' 2008 opponents? Our very own kaisertown has done a wonderful job of breaking down the run defense aspects of every one of Buffalo's 2008 opponents. Take it away, kaiser. [End Note]
The media typically uses yards allowed per game to rank defenses. But those numbers are obviously flawed because they take into account a team’s ability to keep its defense off the field. Using yards per game will also mean a team’s run defense numbers will be altered by a team’s pass defense. I like yards per attempt. I don’t think it gives you an exact number for how well a defense defended the run or pass, but it is the most accurate statistic out there.
Week 1: Seattle – 3.9 yards per attempt, 2007 season
Week 2: Jacksonville – 4.1
Week 3: Oakland – 4.8
Week 4: St. Louis – 4.1
Week 5: Arizona – 3.9
Week 7: San Diego – 4.1
Week 8: Miami – 4.5
Week 9: NY Jets – 4.2
Week 10: New England – 4.4
Week 11: Cleveland – 4.5
Week 12: Kansas City – 4.3
Week 13: San Francisco – 3.8
Week 14: Miami – 4.5
Week 15: NY Jets – 4.2
Week 16: Denver – 4.6
Week 17: New England – 4.4
That rounds up to about 4.27 yards allowed per rush for our opponents, based on 2007 numbers. The league average was about 4.0 or 4.1 yards. It may not seem like much, but those two tenths of a yard per carry are pretty substantial.
For an in-depth look at each of Buffalo's '08 opponents and their off-season moves, check out the info after the jump.
Miami – lost Zach Tomas, added Jason Ferguson, Akin Ayodele
- Miami was a disaster last season. They were bad against the run just like they were bad at everything else. Miami was particularly bad against quicker backs last season. It’s a new coaching staff and scheme so it isn’t all that important what happened last season, but it doesn’t look like they have the personnel in place to turns things around anytime soon. Miami gave up the most rushing yards in the league last season and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it again this year.
New York Jets – lost Dewayne Robertson and Jonathan Vilma. Added Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace and drafted Vernon Gholston
- The Jets had an average run defense. They gave up the fourth most yards in the league via the ground, but did so by allowing the second most attempts in the league. They didn’t give up any huge games and not many backs truly “struggled” against them. Jenkins could be an upgrade over Robertson (who I think is a little underrated) or Jenkins could get hurt and the Jets' D could fall apart. The Jets used true linebackers like Victor Hobson and Eric Barton on the outside a lot last season. This year they will use hybrid rushers, Gholston and Pace, which could negatively affect their run D. I thought they had a bad D-Line last year, but was surprised to see that Kenyon Coleman had 83 tackles last season. Shaun Ellis is overrated and can be taken advantage of. Expect the Jets to be average again, but it is worth pointing out that Marshawn Lynch had two mediocre games vs. the Jets (23 carries for 79 yards and 21 carries for 80 yards).
New England – drafted Jerod Mayo
- Vince Wilfork gets a lot of credit for being a great NT, but the Pats weren’t all that great against the run. They completely shut down Thomas Jones twice (probably by cheating) but gave up big days to the Pittsburgh duo of Parker and Davenport, McGahee, Addai and the Dallas duo of Jones and Barber. New England got an early lead in most games they were in and teams abandoned the run. With the drafting of Mayo and a potentially healthy year from Seymour I expect NE to return to being an above average run D. Belichick is great at scheming for the pass and I doubt he will respect Edwards enough to allow Marshawn to be anything more than average against them.
Seattle – drafted Red Bryant, signed Larry Tripplett
- After checking all the box scores from Seattle’s games last year, it was tough not to notice that they were a totally different team vs. the run at home and on the road. That problem was highlighted by Ryan Grant's 201 yard performance in the playoffs. Buffalo should run pretty well against them. Especially if Tripplett makes that team and actually sees the field.
Jacksonville – lost Stroud, signed Jimmy Kennedy, drafted Derrick Harvey
- Don’t let the 4.1 yards allowed number fool you, Jacksonville has a dominant run defense. For whatever reason the Jags allowed Tennessee to run for 283 yards on 49 carries in the first game if the season. That 5.755 yards per carry really skewed the overall numbers. Then again, the run defense struggled some down the stretch. After Stroud hurt his ankle the Jags allowed Willie Parker to run for 100 yards on just 14 carries, Dominic Rhodes ran for 115 yards on 27 carries and Ron Dayne and Darius Walker combined for a staggering 174 yards on 31 carries in the season finale. I still expect Buffalo to struggle pretty bad in Jacksonville. In fact, I think this is one of the few games that Buffalo can’t win.
Oakland – gave Tommy Kelly stupid money, Warren Sapp retired
- 4.8 yards allowed per carry is pathetic. The thing that makes it even more sad, is that they improved by a good amount AFTER Tommy Kelly got hurt. They played an easy schedule and got run over by big names like Kolby Smith, Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne. The Bills should be able to win this game solely by running the ball better than Oakland can. The Raiders shut down terrible Cedric Benson, otherwise this team would have allowed over 5 yards per carry on the season.
St. Louis – lost Brandon Chillar, drafted Chris Long
- In what made me smile, I noticed that STL completely shut down Willis McGahee. He only had 61 yards on 25 carries. This run defense improved down the stretch, but they played like the rest of the team did, wildly inconsistent. Aging RBs like Warrick Dunn, Shaun Alexander and Jamal Lewis all helped the Rams' run defense appear better than it is. Their D-Line doesn’t have great size and their LBs are awful. Will Witherspoon holds this defense together. The Bills should have solid success running the ball.
Arizona – lost Calvin Pace, made a ton of minor moves
- Arizona is starting to look like a Ken Whisenhunt team. They made a number of moves, but I think their run defense will stay about the same. Arizona allowed 3.9 yards per carry last season. They were a very solid and pretty consistent run defense that only gave up a couple of big days and shut down some of the league's better runners. This is a tough game for the Bills and a tough matchup for Lynch and the O-Line.
San Diego – signed Derek Smith (who I think is washed up)
- SD gave up 4.1 yards per rush last season. If Adrian Peterson didn’t run for 296 yards on 30 carries, that total would be much lower. If their D-Line is still healthy, I would expect SD to be a very tough matchup. The Bills will pound Marshawn because the Chargers have a turnover happy defense, but the Bills will have a tough day running the ball. This is another game that I can’t envision Buffalo winning.
Cleveland – traded for Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers
- The Browns simply didn’t have the personnel to run the 3-4 effectively last season. They bottled up slower backs like Shaun Alexander and Brian Leonard, but really struggled against everyone else. They were effective in the snow against Buffalo, but I am sure everyone here can remember how predictable Buffalo’s offense was and how many Browns were in the box every play. Cleveland has mediocre LBs and I think Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers will be too busy trying to get to the QB to even notice that he no longer has the ball. I don’t expect much improvement from the 4.5 ypc they gave up last year.
Kansas City – drafted Glenn Dorsey, signed Demorrio Williams, traded Jared Allen
- I’m sure they are real excited about Glenn Dorsey down in Kansas, but he has a big task ahead of him. Ahman Green, Justin Fargas, Cedric Benson, Selvin Young (twice) and TJ Duckett all had great success against an awful KC defense that gave up 4.5 ypc. Selvin Young ran for 265 yards in the two games against KC. Glenn Dorsey is bound to help, but this is still a team that will probably start Ron Edwards at DT and Turk McBride at DE. Donnie Edwards is turning 35 and Napolean Harris hasn’t lost a step, he has lost two. Demorrio Williams and Derrick Johnson are both good in pursuit, but struggle at the point of attack. Carl Peterson is one of the worst GMs in the league, this team is a mess.
San Francisco – Bryant Young retired, drafted Kentwan Balmer and signed Justin Smith
- I think San Fran’s D is on the verge of emerging as one of the better units in the league. Not a dominant unit, but one that is well above average. Patrick Willis is incredible. This is a team that kept Adrian Peterson to 3 yards on 14 carries. They didn’t dominate any other teams, but they held everyone else pretty much in check other than Pittsburgh when Willie Parker, Ben Roethlisberger and Najeh Davenport combined for 196 yards on 30 carries. The 3.8 ypc they gave up last season wasn’t a fluke and I expect much of the same this season.
Denver – Added Boss Bailey and Dewayne Robertson
- It feels like Denver has been trying to rebuild their D-line for years and they are still awful. In his first game as a pro last year, Marshawn ran for 90 yards on just 19 carries. Addai and Kenton Keith ran for 216 yards on 29 carries. Tomlinson and Turner ran for 214 yards on 31 carries. Ron Dayne and Darius Walker ran for 133 yards on 24 carries. Even Mike Martz’s stable of backs (Kevin Jones, TJ Duckett and Aveion Cason) ran for 127 yards on 22 carries. Denver’s only good weeks came when everyone on KC was hurt and Priest Holmes (20 carries for 65 yards) and Kolby Smith (13 carries for 12 yards) each started a game and the game against Chicago where Benson got hurt early in the game and the "other" Adrian Peterson ran for 45 yards on 17 carries. DJ Williams is a great player and Dewayne Robertson was a nice addition, but their supporting cast is pretty bad. ECC grad Marcus Thomas and the aging Alvin McKinney are set to battle for a starting spot at DT. This team still hasn’t recovered from the decision to grab all the former Browns D-Lineman. They have 8 DEs on the roster right now. Didn’t Mike Shanahan’s mom ever tell him that quantity doesn’t equal quality? I mean guys like Ebenezer Ekuban and Elvis Dumervil sound like they belong in a Harry Potter book, not on a D-Line. I am no longer concerned about Buffalo’s ability to go into Denver and win a game this year.