LeSean McCoy is entering his 10th NFL season, an achievement that not many running backs can earn. Following the Buffalo Bills’ first day of minicamp, the soon-to-be 30-year old superstar reflected on his status among NFL ball-carriers, his admiration for new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and rookie quarterback Josh Allen, among other topics.
Once again, McCoy will be expected to be the centerpiece of Buffalo’s offense. Last season, McCoy rushed for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns on 287 carries while catching 59 passes for 448 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He got off to a slow start, rushing for just 371 yards in the team’s first six games before the offensive line gelled and McCoy grew comfortable with the blocking scheme.
But McCoy doesn’t envision any speedbumps with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll calling the plays or which quarterback is under center.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”He’s [a] very intelligent offensive coordinator, a smart person. He’s always trying to find ways to get the backs open space. The playmakers, he’s always trying to get them the ball.,” McCoy said following Tuesday’s practice. “I’m excited. I’m excited about this year. I’m excited to be back in that offense where it’s hitting on all cylinders, from throwing the ball to actually finding a way to get the guys some space, which I do best.”[/perfectpullquote]
Buffalo’s offense was atrocious last season, relying on the defense to create turnovers and limit opponents from putting points on the board. On paper, the Bills’ don’t look to be in much better shape for the 2018 NFL season but McCoy isn’t worried.
LeSean McCoy reflects on ‘#12kChase,’ new generation of RBs
LeSean McCoy’s unhappiness with the trade that sent him from the Eagles to Buffalo is well documented and despite rushing for 3,300 yards and 28 touchdowns in his first three years with the team, it wasn’t really until last season that the veteran was truly happy.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]”My first year, it was rough to transition from Philadelphia to Buffalo [and] get myself together. It was more than just competing. I had to find myself,” said McCoy. “The next year, it was like ‘I’m back’. [It was] time to go out there, produce, get my name back where it’s supposed to be, my mind clear, then I kind of took off again.”[/perfectpullquote]
Last offseason, it seemed that McCoy was more concerned with personal accolades than team success as a whole. He started his ‘#12kchase’ campaign, a goal to join the exclusive group of 15 running backs to attain 12,000 career rushing yards. Of those 15, 13 are in the Hall of Fame.
During his media availability, McCoy made it clear that he was still chasing 12,000-yards while reflecting on being one of the older running backs in the NFL and how the Bills’ recent success has motivated him.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]”I think it has a lot to do with winning,” McCoy said when asked about how much longer he sees himself playing. “Winning and other achievements that I want to make and accomplish. Every year, I try and jot down some goals to achieve. It’s weird, because every year, not that I didn’t expect to get this far, it’s just I look at backs like Frank Gore [and] there’s not a lot of them. There’s not a lot of guys out there. I want to chase that and be one of those guys.”[/perfectpullquote]
To McCoy, competing with the young generation of ball-carriers entering the league is what keeps him hungry and motivated to play at a high level.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]”A lot of the running backs like the [Todd] Gurleys, and the [Le’Veon] Bells, the way they view me is like the ‘old head baller’. It drives me. It does because I remember being 25, 24 looking at the older guys, saying ‘I’m going to catch him, I want to be better than him’. Now, it’s like reversed. Now it’s like, okay, I’m still an elite player, but the young guys are creeping on me, so I’ve got to continue to do better and do better. Stack my numbers up, stack my wins up. Just make that portfolio of just a baller.”[/perfectpullquote]
Brian Daboll the spark LeSean McCoy needs
LeSean McCoy is 1,992 yards shy of 12,000 but the way he talked about the Buffalo Bills’ new offense, he shouldn’t have a problem hitting that by the end of next season. McCoy raved about Brian Daboll’s scheme, telling reporters that Daboll is extremely intelligent and schemes plays to create and exploit mismatches.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]”He’s had success with the Patriots; he’s had a lot of success with Alabama. We’re going to run the ball, for sure. You’ll see a lot of similarities between us and the Patriots because that’s where he comes from. One of the things [he does] is he’s always trying to get a matchup. When you watch the Patriots when they play, you’ve got the guys like the Gronks [Rob Gronkowski] where he’s going to make plays, but he’s always looking for a matchup. If you get a running back on a linebacker, you’re going to take it. IF we get Clay on a particular linebacker, we’re going to take it. Even with [Kelvin] Benjamin, he’s a big target, we want to get him the ball.” McCoy said. [/perfectpullquote]
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”22″]”He’s always trying to confuse the defense and find the mix-match. The most offenses that are successful, that’s what they do. We’re going to run the ball in different formations, keep guys off balance, be on the attack and that’s more just [a] high tempo offense. We’re going to be similar. We’ll see. I’m excited to be here, I’ll tell you that. The offense is crazy, a lot of plays. A lot of studying for a great cause and a great outcome.”[/perfectpullquote]
QB battle a non-issue, but Josh Allen earns rare praise from LeSean McCoy
While Brian Daboll’s scheme may look fantastic on the whiteboard, the team still has to execute on offense. Buffalo traded Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns during the offseason and signed A.J. McCarron before trading up to select Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL draft. The newcomers are in an open competition with Nathan Peterman, the Bills’ fifth-round draft pick last season.
LeSean McCoy didn’t hesitate to praise Taylor and express that he missed his former teammate but also noted that he was impressed with the current group of passers on the roster, singling out Allen as one of the rare rookies he’s ever been fond of.
“I have to be honest, he’s pretty good. I’m not a big fan of rookies. The best rookie I’ve probably liked in my career has been Tre [White]. Tre’s really good. A lot of guys as rookies, they’re not like him. The quarterback is on that level: he’s good, he’s smart, [but] he has to learn,” McCoy said regarding Josh Allen.
McCoy says that after dealing with similar quarterback situations in the past, he’s embracing the role of a veteran mentor.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”He’s thrown some passes that probably shouldn’t have been thrown, but other than that he has a strong arm, [he is] very intelligent,” McCoy continued. “Sometimes, we have conversations, and I’m like, “Easy, this is not like an exam. Just talk to me.” As a talent level, he’s going to be good for a lot of years and I want to be a part of that when he takes over eventually. [We] took him early in the draft, so that’s common sense. He’s special, that’s for sure. Only thing is, those dudes like that, they get carried away. We’ve got to give Shady the ball 25 times and then you can throw it here and there.:[/perfectpullquote]
To McCoy, he’s exactly where he wants to be. His career goals are inching closer and he’s embraced Buffalo and the fans as they did when he arrived. In what was a serious, reflective press conference, LeSean McCoy made sure to let it be known he was enjoying every moment.
“That’s it. We’re chasing 12,000 [yards], right [Derek] Boyko? 12,000, we’re chasing that. Also, last year was our first time in the playoffs in 17 years, so [we’re going to try] to capitalize on that moving forward. A lot of exciting things happening in Buffalo right now. I just want to be part of it.”