So far through three games there are some alarming trends emerging for the Buffalo Bills. Before they take on a tough defense in the Baltimore Ravens, let’s review one of those developments. Probably the most concerning factor is the offense’s inability to score touchdowns instead of field goals when inside the red zone.
Through three games, the Bills have been inside the red zone eight times. Of those red zone drives, four have ended with touchdowns. Three touchdowns have come via the air and one on the ground. In all, the Bills offense has taken 38 drives and converted them into touchdowns on five of them… or just 13%. Including the seven made field goals, the Bills are scoring at a 31% clip.
In addition to the red zone concern, there’s been the inability score from outside of it. So far the long score has been absent from the offense. At this time, the longest touchdown play came last week as EJ Manuel completed a pass to Scott Chandler for a 33 yard score.
So if the Bills can’t make the long score, and are unable to convert redzone opportunities into touchdowns, it sets up for a frustrating watch for fans. It becomes re-runs of the Dick Jauron era as the Bills were always competitive in games but never able to put enough points on the board to win. Not saying that head coach Doug Marrone and the team can’t fix the problems, but something has to click (and soon) to save this season.
Comparing the Bills to the rest of the league, they place 20th in scoring at 21.7 points per game. The top three teams have a combined record of 7-2 with both losses belonging to the Green Bay Packers. Though it’s the Denver Broncos who have the best scoring offense with 15 touchdowns and a total of 127 points scored.
Again, the Bills have had five touchdowns and settled for field goals another seven times so far this season. Looking at the point differential, the Bills are a minus 11. If two of those field goals instead were touchdowns then we are talking about a differential of only minus three. That means the Bills are 2-1 instead of 1-2 and fans feel a little more comfortable.
Being able to sustain drives and produce touchdowns when inside the red zone only increases the probability of winning the game. For the Bills and EJ Manuel, the offense needs to figure out how to get there more frequently and once there they need to convert touchdowns. Even the lowest rated red zone touchdown rate by a Super Bowl champion in the past three years was 54% by the New York Giants two years ago, and they scored more touchdowns then field goals when they were 20 yards and in.