Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hackett: Keep feeding those running backs the ball


The Buffalo Bills' rushing attack was pretty good last year.

Led by their dynamic duo of veteran Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, the team put up more than 2,300 yards on the ground, second only to the Philadelphia Eagles league-wide.

After releasing 29-year-old Tashard Choice after last season, the Bills picked up Bryce Brown, formerly of the Eagles, and Anthony Dixon from the 49ers in an attempt to truly solidify their backfield and to create a fluid depth chart of reliable starters.

So what's it going to take to move from No. 2 to No. 1? Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett believes its all about conversions.

"When we would go on a 12 or 15 play drive, it was awesome and those guys got in a rhythm and they got touches and they got a good feel for how the defense was playing," Hackett told reporters Wednesday via "When you three-and-out, or four or five play drives, that’s when they can’t get that. So, I think that just converting on third down can extend a lot of drives for us."

Drive extension was certainly an issue for the Buffalo offense and its myriad of injured starters last season. The team had the fourth-worst third-down conversion rate in the league (34 percent) and the third-worst fourth-down conversion rate (28.6 percent). Say that five times fast.

Moreover, much of those issues happened in the red zone, where the offense was particularly stagnant. The Bills got into the end zone on less than 48 percent of their trips inside 20 yards, good enough for 29th overall and down from the year prior.

But Hackett has faith in his crew, evidenced by the amount of times he ran the ball last year (nearly 49 percent of the time). He's hoping the talent he's brought in, coupled with the talent he inherited, can overcome those offensive woes.

It just may take a couple more touches.

"That’s a great room, we’ve got a lot of good players on this team, they all want the ball, and that’s what you want as an offensive coordinator," he said. "Just like we did, I think we had two 900-yard backs last year, just a couple more plays here and there and we could have two 1,000 yard backs in addition to the entire passing world that we can increase on."

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