by Mario Granata
With the recent events that have transpired at One Bills Drive with the soon-to-be acquisition of LeSean McCoy, the Buffalo faithful find themselves in a very unusual spot: a premier running back that is coming TO Buffalo. Factor in the trade to the Minnesota Vikings for Matt Cassel and the Bills are making noise early in this offseason. The question that remains, is what does this do to the philosophy of the Bills offense and where to they do from here?
It seemed that Buffalo was content to have Bryce Brown, Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon on the roster, and many of the fans projected that the Bills would target another running back with the 50th overall pick in the draft, if an agreement couldn't be met with CJ Spiller. Almost for the entertainment for everyone who was watching the NFL Network, the Bills executed a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for the services of one of the most productive backs the past 5 years, in LeSean McCoy. McCoy brings an explosiveness to the position, and almost seems tailor made to fit in a Greg Roman scheme, and definitely is the type of player that Rex Ryan covets. What does this say about the Bills moving forward?
Let's examine the roster:
LeSean McCoy: In the Greg Roman scheme the past 4 years in San Francisco, Frank Gore was one of the most consistent backs in the NFL. Gore started 63 of 64 games in that span and had a per year average of 268 carries for 1,156 yards and 7 touchdowns. Similarly, McCoy had a stat line of 275-1,269-8 over the same amount of time with one glaring difference: receptions. Gore "hurled" in only 72 receptions over those 4 years, while McCoy pulled in 182. This adds another dimension to Greg Roman's offense in the form of getting his backs in space. Now, while it was not used much in San Francisco, Roman, for lack of a better term has a new toy to play with, in McCoy. Teams cannot just stack the box with 8 or 9 players due to the threat that McCoy poses in the passing game. Factor in the point that McCoy has 1,761 touches (1,461 rush, 300 rec) and only has 14 fumbles. That is one fumble for every 126 touches. If you want to "ground and pound" you have to hold onto the rock.
Fred Jackson: Much has been made of the twitter battle that Jackson and McCoy had last season, and it will be interesting to see how these two fair as teammates in Buffalo. Year after year, back after back, Fred Jackson has seen them all come and go, being the true face of the franchise. Marshawn Lynch and now CJ Spiller, two former 1st round picks are gone while Jackson has had himself quite the resume in Buffalo. Arguably the best pass blocking back in the NFL, which is something that Greg Roman will need to groom a young EJ Manuel. Jackson has stated that he is not going to hand over the reigns to McCoy, which should make for some interesting battles when camp opens in Buffalo. When you take into account that McCoy has more career rushes than Jackson (1,461-1,279) the question of "fresh legs" might surprise you.
Anthony Dixon: The only member of the quartet that has some familiarity with Roman, due to his time in San Francisco. Dixon will likely revert to a Bruce Miller role within Roman's offense. Dixon has that smash mouth style that could lead the way for either McCoy or Jackson, and has the hands to catch passes if needed. His experience with Roman could help the progression of McCoy and Jackson to a degree.
Bryce Brown: Talk about being the ultimate 'Bridesmaid' of the NFL, Brown will more than likely be the handcuff for McCoy and Jackson. Brown played behind McCoy in 2012 and 2013 and behind Jackson in 2014, and with the inevitable departure of Jackson in 2016, he will be back to backing up McCoy full time once again. In every aspect of life, there has to be some insurance, and Brown has proven to be the perfect one for McCoy and will do so for Jackson as well if they happen to suffer an injury. He will also offer some comfort to McCoy as he makes his transition to Buffalo.
The Bills, not having a first round pick, decided to go out and make a splash in free agency to obtain some talent for the 2015 season and beyond. Now if you are upset that the Bills weren't able to resign Spiller, just replay the broadcast on the NFL Network where Spiller stated he was talking to his "good friend Jarius Byrd" for advice, and you could probably figure out how this story was going to end. Buffalo is also thinking long term in this deal as Kiko Alonso's contract (because he was a 2nd rounder) was only for 4 years, and the Eagles only will have his services for the 2015 and 2016 season after which he will become a free agent, while McCoy's current contract is good through 2017. The Bills will look to restructure his deal to open up some more cap room, but the future is looking bright for the backfield of the Bills. Now all they need is some horses to open up some holes, and maybe they can end the longest playoff drought in the NFL.
Here the full episode of the Buffalo Breakdown here:
Buffalo Breakdown: Running Backs