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Bills Must Tighten Up Field Position Battle

One of the Buffalo Bills' many problems through five games of the 2010 regular season has been an inability to perform well in the battle for field position. Buffalo's defense, which has allowed at least 34 points in each of the team's last four games, is rightfully getting a lot of negative press, but they're not getting much help from the team's offense, special teams or coaching decisions.

Bills opponents have held the ball for 58 possessions this season, and of those, 28 have started at or beyond their own 35-yard line. It's a bit subjective, but I consider those possessions advantageous drive starts, as it's fairly easy for an NFL team to gain 30 yards to get into scoring range. The fact that nearly half of our opponents' drive starts have been of this variety is a huge concern.

The reasons for that stat vary. Turnovers are one issue; interceptions and fumbles (and even a special teams fumble) have given opponents excellent field position. That includes turnovers on downs, as Chan Gailey has gone for it on fourth down late in three blowouts this year. Kickoff coverage has been spotty, as well, with the Bills either excellent or awful; lengthy returns have given opponents good field position.

On those 28 advantageous drive starts, the Bills have surrendered 88 points this season. That's 15 scores in 28 possessions. On the other 30 possessions - all of which started inside the opponents' 35-yard line - the Bills have allowed 71 points; 14 scores on 30 possessions. So, yes, the Bills have been bad defensively no matter where an opponent gets the ball. It'd help, however, if the Bills put much more emphasis on winning the battle for field position.