It’s not surprising for most good teams to have more rushing attempts than their struggling counterparts. Additional carries usually mean that a team has the lead more often, and wants to take time off of the clock. The Buffalo Bills were one of the best teams in the league last season, and finished 13th in the NFL in carries in 2021.
However, quarterback Josh Allen accounted for over a quarter of those attempts. In a perfect world, Buffalo will try to get enhanced production out of its backfield, so that Allen does not have to run too much.
Devin Singletary led the Bills in rushing attempts last season, with 188. He played in all 17 regular season games, so that averages out to about 11 carries per contest. The team probably won’t give him too much more of a workload during the 2022 season, but would like to see him maintain the 4.6 yards per carry metric that he finished with last season. Buffalo would also like Singletary to take better care of the football, as he put the ball on the ground five times.
The real X-factor in Buffalo’s backfield will be rookie running back James Cook. He is the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who is among the very best at his position in the NFL. The franchise invested a second round draft pick on the younger Cook, who starred at the University of Georgia.
It will be interesting to see how much of an opportunity Cook gets. Buffalo is a win-now team, and likely will not tolerate members of the backfield missing pass blocking assignments, or making mental errors. If Cook can minimize the rookie mistakes and show a level of burst, there’s a chance that he could be the team’s lead runner down the stretch of the season.
It wasn’t too long ago that Zack Moss appeared to be in a virtual timeshare with Singletary. However, it was clear that the coaching staff had more confidence in Singletary, rendering Moss to change of pace duty. He was not very effective in that role, only averaging 3.6 yards per tote during the 2021 season. If Cook can prove to be a real weapon for Buffalo, there is a world in which Moss might not be with the team before the regular season begins.
It seemed like a curious signing by Buffalo in March when they inked veteran running back Duke Johnson to a one year contract. Johnson’s viability as a productive NFL running back seemed to be close to zero before last season, but he had a bit of a resurgence with the Miami Dolphins. In December and January, Johnson had big rushing games against the New York Jets and New England Patriots—foes that the Bills will see four total times this season. Johnson has primarily been known as a pass catching outlet out of the backfield, but could be an interesting option for the Bills if he can get a few snaps alongside Allen.