Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy had one of the worst seasons of his NFL career in 2018. At age 30, he barely managed to crack 500 yards rushing and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. With that said, Bills decision-makers Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott gave strong indications Shady will be back in 2019.
“He is part of our plan,” general manager Beane said of McCoy, saying the entire running game was down in 2018. “Our offense, we’re not happy with a lot of things that happened. We improved in some areas, but that’s not one that we improved.”
Head coach Sean McDermott said it was a symptom of the poor passing threat and the offense as a whole throughout the season.
“It’s not on him solely, it’s on us as an offense,” said McDermott. “We were out of sync at times, out of rhythm, maybe, overall. It was just too inconsistent. In particular, [in the final game], you saw some of the flashes of the old LeSean: in space, with the moves, playing at a high level. Just overall [we] couldn’t get him at a high level enough, starting if you go all the way back to the beginning of the season.”
Beane agreed, citing the rest of the running game around McCoy, as well.
“Early in the year, our pass game was not very good,” continued Beane. “You could see it. Teams were focused on, ‘Alright, if we stop 25, this team isn’t going to go far.’ While we did improve our pass game, our run game stayed stagnant for a lot of the year. Again, LeSean will come back in 2019 and we’ll go from there.”
That’s as emphatic of a statement as you get this time of year. When asked about another expensive veteran, tight end Charles Clay, Beane completely ignored the question and didn’t mention Clay in the answer, which would probably indicate Clay won’t be back. He was direct about McCoy.
Still, that doesn’t mean he’s happy with the output from Shady or the run game.
“Good teams can run the ball when the defense and everybody in the building knows you’ve got to run it in your four-minute offense to close out games, close out halves,” said Beane. “We definitely understand the importance of that. We’re not happy with it. It’s a lot of areas from sometimes our O-line was out of sync for various reasons. It wasn’t always one guy or one side of the ball. I just never felt our run game for the most part got into a consistent groove, and that’s something that we have to be honest about as we make changes going forward this off-season.”
The Bills began that process earlier this week, firing offensive line coach Juan Castillo in an attempt to jump-start the run game. Beane referenced the offensive line several times during his year-end press conference.
The Bills can save more than $6 million in salary cap space by releasing McCoy prior to the 2019 season, which he will enter at the ripe age of 31. But with more than $80 million in cap space already, Beane isn’t looking to shed McCoy’s cap hit just for the sake of money.
“Well, if we were up against the cap, I’d say maybe you’re more considering that, but I’m not a believer that LeSean is done,” said Beane. “I know you’re talking about his number is around $6 million. If he gets back to the form and we get our offense going, I think he can still be a weapon.”
To his credit, McCoy didn’t act mad about it on locker clean out day. He was resolute that not only would he be in the building, but he would bounce back in 2019.
“This is not the type of production that I’m used to,” McCoy said. “But it is what it is. I’m tough. I’ll bounce back. I think they’ll make the right moves this off-season and get the right pieces. I’ll be back. This is good for me. This is good for a lot of reasons, one of them is that it puts a chip on my shoulder. I always try to have different goals. I think one of them is to prove myself that I still am who I am.”