Bottled up so far in 2017, what does 2018 hold for LeSean McCoy?

From ESPN - November 15, 2017

The NFL opened fan voting for the 2018 Pro Bowl on Tuesday, and despite the Buffalo Bills' holding a 5-4 record, there are few slam-dunk choices among Bills players who could make the trip to Orlando in January.

Safety Micah Hyde, whose five interceptions rank second in the NFL, could have the best shot. But what about LeSean McCoy, who was widely considered the team's best and most important player entering training camp?

McCoy was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons with the Bills, but with a career-low average of 3.8 yards per carry this season, the straight-shooting McCoy would be the first to question whether he should be voted an all-star in his third year in Buffalo.

The Pro Bowl returned to the traditional AFC vs. NFC format last season, so the AFC will feature three representatives at running back. Through Week 10, McCoy ranks fourth in the conference in rushing yards (595) behind Le'Veon Bell, Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette. His three rushing touchdowns are tied for eighth among AFC running backs, and his 3.8 yards per rush rank 13th among AFC running backs with a qualifying number of carries.

McCoy's goals are to win a Super Bowl and put himself in position to be elected to the Hall of Fame -- not necessarily to collect Pro Bowls -- and the Bills could snap their 17-year playoff drought without having any of their players named to the Pro Bowl this season.

But the discussion about whether McCoy is still playing at a Pro Bowl level is a springboard to this question: As he turns 30 before next training camp, what is McCoy's future with the Bills?

McCoy has two full seasons remaining on the extension he signed upon being traded from Philadelphia in 2015. His cap numbers are $8.95 million in 2018 and $9.05 million in 2019, which are currently the NFL's highest at his position for those two years.

Running backs' abilities typically deteriorate as they approach 30, but there has been little evidence that McCoy's skills have eroded this season. When given room to run, he has shown open-field burst and elusiveness. His six rushes of 20 yards or more are second only to Hunt's mark (eight) among NFL running backs.

The problem for McCoy has been a mixture of blocking and a lack of receiving threats to take defenses' attention off him. He has averaged 4.8 runs per game against eight or more defenders in the box, fifth-most in the NFL. He averaged 2.6 such runs last season (tied-15th) and 1.09 in 2015 (60th).

Of his 43 runs against eight or more defenders this season -- or 27 percent of his 157 total rushes -- he has averaged 2.53 yards per carry (28th in NFL) and 1.86 rushing yards before first contact (18th). Teams are stacking the box more often this season against McCoy, and with little room to run before he is hit, McCoy does not have the bulk or physicality to run through defenders.


Continue reading at ESPN »