Is the veteran headed for the T.J. Yeldon role, or can he knock Taiwan Jones off the roster?
The Buffalo Bills utilized a two-headed rushing attack last year (well, three-headed if you count quarterback Josh Allen) to limited success. “Limited success,” in reality, is far too kind—Buffalo ranked just 20th in yards per rush at 4.2 yards per carry, and while they managed ten rushes of 20 yards or more (tied for 11th in the league), they mustered just one run of over 40 yards.
In short, Buffalo’s running game was neither explosive nor efficient last season. This weakness was covered by the absurd efficiency of their passing attack, but if we’re looking for places in need of improvement this year, the rushing attack is one of the top things on the list. While the Bills appear to be set at running back, they did bring in a veteran to challenge for snaps.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile that veteran—a player who adds an element to the ground game that the Bills have lacked since LeSean McCoy was released: speed.
Name: Matt Breida
Height/Weight: 5’10” 195 lbs
Age: 26 (27 on 2/28/2022)
College: Georgia Southern
Acquired: Signed as UFA on 3/29/2021
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Breida signed a one-year deal with Buffalo worth a total of $1.06 million. Thanks to bonuses and the veteran’s minimum exception, his cap number is only $915,000. Buffalo is on the hook for a dead-cap charge of $140,000 if he doesn’t make the roster.
2020 Recap: Breida was traded to the Miami Dolphins during the 2020 NFL Draft. With Miami, Breida appeared in 12 games, starting four. He carried 59 times for 254 yards, an average of 4.3 yards per rush. He caught nine passes for 96 yards. Breida did not score a touchdown on the season. He also played special teams more frequently than at any point other than his rookie season, appearing on a total of 80 special teams snaps for the Dolphins. Breida missed some time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in December.
Positional outlook: Breida slots in as the third running back on Buffalo’s depth chart. He’s behind 2019 third-round pick Devin Singletary and 2020 third-round pick Zack Moss. Taiwan Jones, Christian Wade, and Antonio Williams round out the roster.
2021 Offseason: Breida is healthy and he attended OTAs.
2021 Season outlook: Call me crazy if you’d like, but I think that Breida in this offense could make a huge impact if he’s given seven touches per game. He’s a phenomenal athlete (he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash, had a 42” vertical and an 11.2’ broad jump at his pro day—all of which would have been tops at his positional group had he been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine). He also adds a speed element that no other Buffalo running back offers. The coaching staff loves Taiwan Jones for his contributions on special teams, but if Breida can contribute on offense and serve as a gunner on the third unit, then I think he has to be active on game days. Breida could be the T.J. Yeldon of the 2021 team, making the roster but only seeing game time when an injury occurs. He could also bump Jones off the roster. Another scenario is that the staff goes with a player with less experience like Williams or Wade, though I think that’s the unlikeliest scenario of the three. For his career, Breida averages 5.5 yards per touch, which is better than both Singletary (5.1) and Moss (4.6). I’d give the guy a chance this year.