ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Through ten games this season, the Buffalo Bills' strengths and weaknesses have been nearly opposite of what they were in 2019. Even without a game in hand, the passing game is still among the league's best statistically.
But the running game, and run defense, have both been an Achilles heel for Buffalo all season. While players remained in the area during the bye week, the coaching staff was reviewing tape from all year.
"You look at a lot of different things. You start with yourself," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "You look at formations, and motions, and shifts, and where you try to gain an advantage in the running game."
Now that their bye week has passed, the Bills are 27th in the NFL in total rushing yards with 976 yards through 10 games. They're also 24th in rushing attempts as the passing game has taken the wheel in 2020.
"There were a lot of things that we made some improvements on from what we talked about in the offseason and last year," Daboll said. "There are certainly things that we can do better."
On the other side of the ball, struggles against the run have been a common theme throughout the season. And once an anomaly became a trend, the rest of the league took notice.
"It's a copy cat league. You know, people see something that hurts you, and they put it their offense," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "Hopefully we'll be better against those runs going forward. We'll hit them again."
The loss of running back Austin Ekeler hasn't slowed down Buffalo's upcoming opponent. The Los Angeles Chargers are 10th in the league in rushing offense.
"They usually want to run the football, that's where it starts at for sure, they want to establish the run," Frazier said. "But they don't hang their hat on the running game as much as they have in the past."
That's due to rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. He got his chance in week two against Kansas City, threw for 300 yards and took the Chiefs to overtime, and has been at the reigns since.
"He doesn't play like a rookie. He's basically leading this offense," Frazier said. "That's unusual this early in a rookie's career to be a guy that shoulders the brunt of the success on offense."
The Bills haven't lost after a bye week under Sean McDermott. In addition to the regular work flow of a week to prepare for an opponent, the whole staff uses the additional week to take a "deep dive" into themselves and what they can do better.
"It's not just that the bye week is the end all be all," Daboll said. "It's just the continuation process of the evaluation of yourself that you do."