When it comes to Buffalo sports teams, there’s always an obsession about getting respect from anyone outside the (716). It was a big talking point when Terry Pegula kind of alluded to wanting that respect last week. I tend to believe that you only get respect in sports when you actually win and we all know the Bills haven’t done that in a long time. When you are a small market football team, it becomes even worse. Suddenly, you are forgotten if you don’t win. You walk into a bar in Las Vegas and ask the bartender to name 5 players on the current Bills roster and I’m willing to bet they would have a better chance of naming every president in the 20th century. As someone who lives in NYC, I get that a lot. I’ve gotten that quizzical “Who the hell is on your team” look probably since the mid-2000’s. It happens. At first, I used to get annoyed at it, but after awhile you come to accept it and move on.
Yes, our football team is totally irrelevant and I have a better chance at connecting with New Yorkers about Game of Thrones or our hatred towards Trump. However, if you’re lucky, there’s a player or two who breaks through the irrelevance. Someone who other fan bases remember, know, and can place as a member of your team. There haven’t been many, but I think we have one with LeSean McCoy.
I still remember when my ex-roommate, an Eagles fan, texted me after the trade went down. He wasn’t too thrilled about it. If you get on McCoy’s Instagram or Twitter page, whenever he posts, you’ll always see a bunch of Eagles fans saying they miss him. Trust me, Eagles fans are awful and they hate everyone. When you can get them, of all people, to miss a player, that’s saying something. Well guess what? You can’t have him back.
That’s the beauty of McCoy coming to Buffalo. After being heart-broken about leaving his home state, he’s really embraced the fans and the city. It is no secret that McCoy wasn’t thrilled about coming here. It is always a talking point when a player actually loves the city. It is a narrative that has been beaten to death because Buffalo craves acceptance. It’s an easy story to write. When you find someone who isn’t thrilled to be here at first, but then learns to love it, well, that’s special. It feels organic, something that wasn’t contrived. You feel it a bit when McCoy talks about the fans. It is obvious he’s an emotional player and when you are emotional, you tend to relate more with the fans because they are just as emotional as you.
There are a few traits McCoy has I tend to really enjoy. For one, he’s kind of a dick. You piss him off, he’ll tell you to F off just like typical Bills fan. When he played the Eagles/Chip Kelly in 2014, he said “Chip couldn’t shake shit” when it came to shaking his hand. Oh, and when lamestreamers wanted to jettison him because he got into a fight with cops and it was revealed that the cops basically started it and McCoy’s crew finished it by kicking their asses, well, that was awesome.
As a player, there’s something special when McCoy touches the football. You really feel he has a chance to take it to the house on any given play. He has a bit of power, finesse, and vision to his game. He is truly the all-purpose back because he can run at you at all sorts of different angles.
I don’t know how much more McCoy has in him (cheap plug: if you want to see what backs do at his age, check out my piece here), but Father Time tends to drop in unexpectedly. We all hope the Bills can turn it around as a franchise, but for McCoy’s sake, I really hope it happens when he’s still in his prime. McCoy is part of a dying breed at running back. The days of having a RB who carries the ball 300 times a year are slowly coming to an end. Most teams employ a running back by committee style and passing is the name of the game. Running the football is dying in today’s NFL. If there’s one thing the Bills have been great at doing, it is finding running backs. In fact, the Bills have rushed for the 3rd most rushing yards since 1970.
As crazy as it sounds, with the way the league is going, I wonder if McCoy will be the last Bills running back who is truly a franchise back. So savor all the moments of Shady forcing missed tackles and being what Bills fans are used to when it comes to running backs, because he might be the last back you ever see here of his caliber.
Stats I like:
- McCoy is the leading rusher in the NFL over the past two seasons with 2,162 yards.
- McCoy has the 3rd most receptions by a running back since 2009 with 382.
- McCoy has the 2nd most rushing TDs since 2009 with 60.
- McCoy has the 3rd most total yards from scrimmage for a running back over last two seasons.
- McCoy is tied for 2nd in the NFL for most 100-yard rushing games over the past 2 seasons with 7.
- McCoy had 11 rushes of 20+ yards or more last year, which ranked 2nd most for RBs.
- According to PFF, McCoy forced 61 missed tackles which was 3rd most in the NFL by a RB.
- Since 2009, McCoy has the 2nd most total yards from scrimmage by a RB with 11,884 yards.
- Since 2014, McCoy has averaged 4.65 YPC which is the 2nd most in the league for RBs with at least 350 carries.
- His 5.4 YPC was a career high and best for a Bills running back with at least 220 carries in a season since OJ Simpson in 1975.
Stats I don’t like:
- Since 2009, has the 3rd most carries in the NFL at 1,898.
- Since 2009, McCoy has a total of 2,280 touches which is 3rd most in the NFL over that time.
- Only 20 RBs in their 9th year (McCoy in 9th year) have had over 1,000 yards rushing in a season. That number is 34 for backs in their 8th year.
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