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Anywhere on field, Bills like to run on first down

Q: How often do the Bills run on first down? It seems like a lot. -- Frank Angelo, New York

A: You're right. The Bills like to run on first and 10. They do it 57.2 percent of the time, third most in the league. Only five teams run more often than 55 percent on first and 10. They are: Pittsburgh (61.7), San Diego (57.7), Buffalo (57.2), the New York Jets (56.6) and Tampa Bay (56.4).

The Bills run on first down in the red zone more than most teams, too. They have run 84.6 percent on first down inside the opposition's 20-yard line. That's second most in the league, behind Oakland, at 90.9 percent. The rest of the top five is Tampa Bay (77.8), Denver (76.4) and Indianapolis (75.0).

The teams that run the least on first-and-10 situations are San Francisco (35.6 percent), Detroit (36.6) and New Orleans (37.4).

How effective are the Bills running on first down? The NFL keeps track of yards per rush on first and 6 to 10. The Bills rank 23rd in yards per carry in that category, with an average of 3.64 yards. That statistic is greatly affected by the effectiveness of the team's passing game. I don't think that yards-per-carry average is a big problem for the Bills. It would go up if their passing game did more.

The teams with the highest rushing average on first and 10 are: Minnesota (5.6), Philadelphia (4.83), Baltimore (4.72), the New York Giants (4.71) and Dallas (4.68). The Eagles' average is aided by the fact they don't run very often on first down -- or any down.

Q: Why didn't the Bills bench J.P. Losman after the Pats loss? -- John Simmons, Philadelphia

A: I think it would be perceived among many of the players as a severe case of scapegoating for the 56-10 loss. I don't think it would be accepted well by the teammates this week. The team is already reeling from that loss, and adding a QB change would just make the team even more uneasy heading to Jacksonville. The Jaguars' defense is fierce. Throwing a rookie in this week, against this team, would be a rough assignment. If the Bills lose this game, a switch to Trent Edwards would be better accepted within the team.

Q: How come we don't see Freddie Jackson running the ball in the regular season? He had a great preseason but after that he's been nonexistent. I think they should look at a two-back offense. Both him and Lynch can block, run and catch. -- Dave Riford, Buffalo

A: Jackson did look good in preseason. Don't forget he did most of his running against second- and third-stringers, and a lot of those guys are not in the league right now. He's capable. But Dwayne Wright and Anthony Thomas have more talent, so they're ahead of Jackson. We see a lot of "uncredentialed" backs succeed, so I don't doubt Jackson could produce in the right situation. Nobody really uses a steady dose of two-halfback sets in the NFL because the "lead halfback" simply is not as good a blocker as a fullback or tight end.

Q: It obviously won't happen this year, but I have wondered about this for a long time: Being that the Jets and Giants play at the same stadium, what would the NFL do if they were scheduled to play a home playoff game the same weekend? I find it hard to believe one could play on Saturday, and then the field could be ready for a game the next day? Kevin Hartman, Buffalo

A: They did play on the same playoff weekend in 1985, the Jets on Saturday and the Giants on Sunday. If they both were home for the conference title game, that would be a big problem. There would be two options. One might be to play the first game at noon and the next at 9 p.m. Another would be to play one game on Saturday night.

Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan answers your football questions every Friday. Send your e-mails to or mail to Question Mark, The Buffalo News Sports Department, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240.

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