With the free agency upon us, here’s the final piece of our “Lofton Exercise” series, this time looking at the offensive backfield. Who can win games for us? Who is good enough to win with? Here’s the Cover 1 crew’s (myself, Erik Turner, Aaron Quinn, and Greg Tompsett) answers:
Josh Allen – QB
Can win games for us: 4 votes
The rookie face of the franchise had an up-and-down start of the season and got injured midway through the year, but after coming back into the starting lineup, he showed the type of impact player he can be week in and week out.
Teller with a slab
Don't ask, I don't know how Allen got it to Foster.. pic.twitter.com/m2BFZZtlWq
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) February 16, 2019
Allen played in 12 games, starting 11. He finished 2018 with a 5-6 record as a starter, completing 52.8% of his passes for 2074 yards, 10 TDs, and 12 INTs, with a 67.9 QB rating and 52.3 QBR. He added a whopping 631 yards and eight TDs on the ground on 89 rushing attempts, establishing himself as one of the most dangerous dual-threat QBs in the league. The rookie also led the Bills to two comeback wins and three game-winning drives.
“The QB draw down on the goal line in the RZ was a great call by Coach Daboll,” Allen said. It was also a play the Bills ran against the Jags in the second quarter of last year’s wild-card loss, though Tyrod Taylor was tripped up before he could reach the end zone. @SethGalina pic.twitter.com/c1hkiatmEc
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) February 17, 2019
Obviously, Allen has a lot of work to do to become an elite passer in the NFL, but without a doubt, his rookie season was better than expected from a “raw prospect”. His special skillset and mindset make him a guy who can win games for you.
Always trying to win the game for you, not not to lose. That's why he's already light years ahead of Tyrod Taylor, and it's coming from someone who loves Tyrod. https://t.co/KjwJJy0QRq
— Fernando H. Schmude (@FernandoSchmude) March 9, 2019
LeSean McCoy – RB
Can win games for us: 3 votes
Can win with him: 1 vote (Fernando Schmude)
I’ll take Mccoy vs a safety all day. pic.twitter.com/oIMGN0Arck
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) December 2, 2018
2018 wasn’t a good year for Shady, who set career lows in rushing yards (514) and yards per carry (3.2). Despite the bad year, where he had absolutely no help from his offensive line and couldn’t outperform Chris Ivory, the Cover 1 crew still believes McCoy can be a difference maker moving forward. I have my doubts and think his best days are behind him. Regardless, there’s no doubt Shady still can contribute on a winning team.
I can see why McCoy is frustrated. Very little movement up from the combo blocks, then once 1 on 1, the linemen can't win.
Helmets in the holes, but there is still too much dancing. #Bills #CoachPaint pic.twitter.com/Pd23RzBhbv
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) November 6, 2018
Chris Ivory – RB
Can win with him: 4 votes
The veteran came to Buffalo and showed he can still be a productive running back in the NFL. His violent running style proved to be more effective than McCoy’s behind the Bills’ struggling OL, and he was often the Bills most effective offensive player on the field in 2018.
Bills took a lot of heat for signing Ivory. Boy has run hard! pic.twitter.com/bpcYoC876g
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) October 7, 2018
Ivory finished his first year in Buffalo with 385 rushing yards (3.3 ypc) and one TD. He added 205 yards on 13 receptions. Those aren’t flashy numbers, but he brought consistency to a struggling running game.
Matt Barkley – QB
Can win with him: 3 votes
Need better: 1 vote (Fernando)
Barkley was one of the nicest surprises of 2018. The journeyman came to the team to back up Nathan Peterman after Josh Allen’s injury but was forced into the lineup just one week after his arrival. To everyone’s surprise, Barkley played the best football by any Bills QB until that moment, completing 15 of 25 pass attempts for 232 yards, 2 TDs, and zero INTs, leading the team to a 41-10 win versus the Jets.
The touchdown pass by QB Matt Barkley was much more difficult than it looked. Step into the film room to see Why It Worked:
Link: https://t.co/KR1KNJ806s#Bills #Billsmafia #CoachPaint pic.twitter.com/oiayLY5o44
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) November 12, 2018
The bye week came, and then Allen was back at the helm, but Barkley’s performance was enough to guarantee him a new two-year deal to be the team’s backup moving forward. If he can play consistently the way he did in his lone appearance in 2018, no doubt the team can win with him under center. I just have my doubts based on his previous stints in the NFL.
Patrick DiMarco – FB
Can win with him: 4 votes
DiMarco is a solid veteran team leader, well respected in the locker room, and a team captain. He does his job as a lead blocker despite not adding much rushing the ball or catching it out of the backfield. No, he isn’t a difference maker, but he also isn’t a liability. You can win with him.
We Need Better group:
RB Marcus Murphy, RB Keith Ford, QB Derek Anderson
I had Murphy on the “can win with him” group. He always impressed me in his opportunities, and I think he can be a nice complementary back. Other than that, no surprises here, as Ford still needs to develop and Anderson is more of a coach on the field at this point in his career.
Lofton Exercise Conclusion
After looking at the entire roster, here are the final numbers in each group*:
Can win games for us: 9 players (3 offense, 6 defense)
Can win with him: 14 players (6 offense, 8 defense)
*Players needed more than 50% of the votes to be eligible in a group
Looking at the overall numbers, it’s clear the Bills need more difference makers on offense. The defense looks very good already, but the offense, especially the offensive line and pass catchers group, needs a major infusion of talent.
Having 24 of 53 players set on the roster is a nice start to work with. A successful offseason should push this number to around 30 to 34 players. This should put the Bills on track to be an up-and-coming contender in the AFC.