This is the first post from a new contributor, Neal Sendlak
Ask someone from Buffalo who the face of the Buffalo Bills the past 5 years has been some might say Kyle Williams. In reality, it was LeSean “Shady” McCoy.
In 4 seasons, Shady posted over 4,000 all-purpose yards, 30 touchdowns and a whopping 4.3 yards per carry. McCoy was the focal point of the Bills offense. McCoy Earned $35 million as a bell cow back for Buffalos. He is one of the highest paid backs ever to play the game. Shady’s twitter handle, @cutonadime25 refers to his generational talent of speed and elusiveness. 2018 was his first since his rookie season where LeSean produces less than 1,000 all-purpose yards.
When the Bills signed All-Pro Veteran Frank Gore, 4th all-time rusher in NFL history, this looked as if Sean McDermott was just beefing up the depth chart and adding some talent around young signal caller Josh Allen, and maybe easing the load off McCoy’s shoulders. Giving way to a 1-2 punch from the backfield with seemingly opposite skill sets.
Enter Devin SIngletary. The 1st of
two 3rd round draft picks for the Bills in 2019. At 22 years old, he rushed for
over 4,200 yards in just 3 seasons as the starting RB for the Florida Atlantic
Owls, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. He is FAU’s all-time rusher and with the
sixth-most rushing touchdowns in FBS history.
However, Devin would watch as 73 rookies heard their names called before Buffalo made him their selection. Most might just chalk it up as RB’s are a dime a dozen, and they are not an important position to draft. However, Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, Darrell Henderson, David Montgomery were all picked ahead of Singletary.
So what gives? with a stat line like I just mentioned, you would think I was describing Barry Sanders, or Hershel Walker.
The first glaring reason might be his 40-yard dash time, 4.66 seconds. Which was the same as Mike Alstott (Tampa Bay) and Jason Witten (Dallas), neither of which were running backs (Alstott was a fullback). Second, his draft report is marked with negative depositions such as, “wont translate to the NFL, too bouncy, inconsistent hands, can’t catch, and doesn’t move the pile.” Those were just a few notes left on the rookie’s report card and it seemed like most scouts were not high on the former Owl. To be fair, there were some scouts who felt just the opposite, some predicting him to be the best RB to enter the draft. Brandon Bean, Bills General Manager and McDermott trusted the latter.
came out and exploded in his first NFL game, gaining 70 yards on just 4 carries
and catching 5 passes for an additional 28 yards, making it 98 total. His receiving
stats show an instant improvement to his college skill set. On some of his
carries, it seemed as if the entire defense was needed to take him down. He ran
with patience, football instincts, who read the blocks and saw the entire
Now the young 22-year old has the opportunity of a lifetime. To learn from a veteran like Gore and be given the space to grow and mold into what he was drafted to be.
The question arises, why cut McCoy and not Gore? Besides, most of McCoy’s big contract has already been paid out, and it wasn’t going to save the team a substantial amount of cap space.
Right now Frank Gore is listed as the Bills starting tail back on the depth chart. And after only posting 20 yards on 11 carries, most Bills fans are calling on McDermott to make sure that we give Singletary 40 touches a game based off his stat line. Right?
My opinion, is that he is right where he needs to be. I trust and believe that everything so far that has happened in the Bills running game, from the signing of Gore, the drafting of Singletary, and the release of McCoy, were well thought out and carefully made football decisions. Bills fans need to trust the process that Beane and McDermott are shaping a team for long-term success rather than short lived conquests. Singletary’s draft profile was not a complete fluke, and he still has plenty of things to learn as a pro. Given his skill set, there is no player on the planet better than Frank Gore that he can learn from. LeSean McCoy can’t teach his ability to “cut on a dime”. You either have that skill or you don’t. We shouldn’t pay as much attention to who the starter is right now more than we should pay attention to who the starter WILL be. Remember, Buffalo doesn’t need Singletary to replace Frank Gore. The Bills need Singletary to replace LeSean McCoy. Gore carries the roadmap on how Singletary will get there. Go Bills.
Photo Credit | Getty Images Jim McIsaac