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Buffalo Bills need to find ways to get LeSean McCoy involved early

Getting Shady on track will surely help Josh Allen and a sputtering Bills’ offense

If you take a look at the snap counts from Sunday’s disappointing 22-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, you’ll find that LeSean McCoy was on the field for 60 percent (35 snaps) of the offensive plays.

While Shady was on the field more than any other non-quarterback offensive skill player outside of wide receiver Zay Jones (53 snaps) and tight end Charles Clay (43 snaps), it’s what the Buffalo Bills did with their best offensive weapon that is most disturbing.

McCoy, who has a proven track record as an explosive running back and a talented pass-catcher out of the backfield, touched the ball eight times in Buffalo’s (1-3) loss to the Packers (2-1-1).

McCoy rushed five times for 24 yards and added three receptions (on six targets) for 13 yards. Factoring in plays where he was the intended target of a Josh Allen pass, McCoy’s number was called 11 times. Total.

True, McCoy was most definitely on a pitch count in his first game back after a one-game absence caused by a ribs injury. Still, the lack of touches for McCoy—especially on a team clearly devoid of playmakers—is concerning.

“It is frustrating,” McCoy told the media after the game. “I just want to win games. I want to get going myself. Just got to stay at it, I can’t get down, just have to be better as a group.”

Sean McDermott, Buffalo’s second-year head coach, admitted he picked up on McCoy’s frustrations with the offense, which has scored 3, 20, 27, and 0 points in a roller-coaster start to the 2018 season.

“Absolutely. I can understand why he’s frustrated,” McDermott told the media Monday. “There’s some rhythm in that. When you get three plays and you’re punting. That’s not a whole lot of opportunities, but within that, it’s the plan. Starting with the plan and getting into a rhythm then where you have the chance to go four, five, six plays whatever plays, whatever the play drives, and start to spread the ball around and get people into a rhythm and a flow.”

Against the Packers, the Bills came out seemingly intent to feed their talented back, with Shady hauling in a seven-yard reception on the opening offensive play and adding a two-yard run, which set up a third-and-one. However, Chris Ivory was stuffed and Buffalo had to punt—a trend that would continue as the Bills offense went three-and-out on four of the first five possessions.

After turning to McCoy on two of the first three plays, he touched the ball just six more times the rest of the day.

Shady didn’t touch the ball on Buffalo’s second possession, and caught a two-yard pass and had Allen badly miss the mark on a third-down pass attempt to McCoy on the team’s third possession.

McCoy contributed a four-yard run on the first play of Buffalo’s next possession, which ended in another three-and-out. He broke off a five-yard run on the ensuing possession but, again, the Bills were forced to punt as the offense never got into a rhythm against the Packers.

The Bills finally managed to drive the ball before halftime, marching 60 yards in nine plays. On that drive, Shady was only targeted once—an incomplete pass—and the drive ended without points when Allen forced a pass into the end zone that was intercepted.

If you’ve been keeping score: That’s 11 rushing yards on three carries and nine receiving yards on a pair of catches in the opening half. Remarkably, despite their failings in getting McCoy involved in the offense, the Bills only trailed by two scores (16-0) heading into the locker room.

Trailing 19-0 early in the third, McCoy ripped off his longest run of the day, an 11-yard gain, on Buffalo’s first offensive play of the second half. Remarkably, it was only the third time all year (21 total carries) that McCoy had a run of 10-plus yards.

All-told, McCoy has rushed for 85 yards on 21 carries (an average of 4.0 yards per carry) and has eight receptions for 41 yards. Those are numbers McCoy usually accumulates in one game.

Hopefully another week means McCoy’s ailing ribs will have more adequately healed, because the Bills need their bell-cow running back at 100 percent. In McCoy, the Bills have the key to a premiere player capable of rescuing the team’s floundering offense—one loaded with unproven wide receivers and a rookie quarterback still learning to read NFL defenses.