Buffalo's rushing game looking for answers

After garnering only 30 yards against the Jets, Buffalo's running game hit a new low Sunday. Head coach Dick Jauron and his players all know this is the hot-button issue that must be fixed fast...

Running back Marshawn Lynch missed the entire second quarter of Buffalo's 26-17 loss to the New York Jets due to nausea.

And speaking of nauseated, that's the general feeling fans have been getting watching the Bills try to run the football lately -- with or without Lynch on the field.

Buffalo gained only 30 yards on 17 attempts against a New York defense that entered the game ranked fourth against the run, thanks in large part to behemoth nose tackle Kris Jenkins.

The Bills' longest run was a 7-yarder by Fred Jackson, who had 15 yards on seven carries. Lynch had a career-low 16 yards on nine attempts.

"We have to run the ball more effectively," coach Dick Jauron said in one of his classic understatements.

The problems are myriad for the Bills, but the biggest one is the inconsistent play of the offensive line. In terms of average height and weight, the Bills have the tallest and heaviest line in the NFL, but it has been overmatched in recent weeks.

And while starters Melvin Fowler (center) and Brad Butler (right guard) have been sidelined, the truth is that they aren't much better than their replacements (Duke Preston and Jason Whittle). Left tackle Jason Peters, a Pro Bowler last season, has not reached that form this season, a clear indication that his preseason holdout was damaging. Right tackle Langston Walker and left guard Derrick Dockery, the two big-ticket free agents who signed last year as for a combined $74 million over the lengths of their contracts, have not been very good this season, either.

"We have to do a better job," said Preston, who has supplanted Fowler as the starter.

The lack of a productive running game has started to affect the performance of quarterback Trent Edwards, too. Teams know the Bills can't run, and they don't have to flood the box with eight defenders to stop the ground game. Thus, they play straight up against the pass, and Edwards has struggled.

"It's tough to run that balance of attack," Edwards said. "It's tough to keep their defense guessing if we can't establish the run and then they obviously know that we're going to pass the ball and that puts a lot of stress on our passing game."

Lynch is not speaking to the media this season, so it is left to his backup, Jackson, to explain some of the problems.

"I don't really think it's something (opposing defenses) are doing, I think it's something we have to solidify," Jackson said. "I don't think teams are doing anything in particular to hurt us, I think we're hurting ourselves. We're just not getting our assignments done. It's something we need to go back to the drawing board and do."

Peters isn't willing to have the line accept all the blame for the failures of a unit that now ranks 26th in the league in rushing and 30th in yards per attempt.

"It goes for everybody," he said. "You have the tight ends, we have running backs, the line, receivers, and everybody has to do their job for a play to work," Peters said. "If one guy breaks down, then the play doesn't work. Everybody is accountable."

Courtesy of The Sports Xchange


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