Bills need to start planning for life after LeSean McCoy

Buffalo Bills

It isn’t shady for the Bills to start thinking about who their running back of the future will be. LeSean McCoy can’t tote the ball forever in Buffalo.

Buffalo Bills fans are understandably keeping a close eye on who will become the team’s starting quarterback this season. Anytime you spend a high draft pick on a talented signal caller, that’s going to happen. The running back situation shouldn’t be ignored though. LeSean McCoy is about to hit the magical age of 30 where production from NFL backs really starts to decline.

Predictably, McCoy thinks he’s the sort of player who can work against that trend. He claims the ability to produce at a high level into his 30s is one of the things that really “drives” him at this point in his career. To that end, he’s improved his diet and tightened up his offseason regimen to make sure he enters the 2018 campaign in the best shape possible.

The reality is this is nothing we haven’t heard before. Every top-flight back espouses these same sorts of platitudes once they hit 30 years of age. McCoy could be the exception to the rule, but it’s not likely. In fact, he’s already shown signs of slippage.

McCoy managed to rush for an impressive total of 1,138 yards last season for a pretty vanilla Bills offense, but his yards per carry average dipped all the way down to four. That’s a significant drop over the 5.4 yards per carry mark he posted in 2016. His rushing output in 2017 was actually the lowest of McCoy’s career.

In fairness to McCoy, opposing defenses were able to load up against Buffalo’s ground game last season. His yards per carry average would certainly improve if the Bills were able to threaten defenses more with their passing attack. Josh Allen might ultimately do that, but it’s not likely he’ll transform the team’s offensive attack in the next year or two. That means it’s very unlikely McCoy will be the feature back by the time Allen is ready to be an above average NFL starter.

The team made a shrewd acquisition to bring in Chris Ivory to help shoulder some of the rushing load this season. Unfortunately, he too is 30-years-old. He can help McCoy by reducing the number of carries and hits he’s required to take, but he’s not a long-term solution for the team’s rushing game.

Instead, the Bills will almost certainly have to draft McCoy’s replacement in the 2019 Draft. They don’t necessarily have to utilize a high pick to fill his void, but they need to get the choice right. LeSean McCoy’s time leading the Buffalo rushing attack is coming to an end. It’s time for the Bills to recognize that and start planning for a replacement.

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