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Bills HC Sean McDermott talks WRs and RBs during NFL combine media session

McDermott was impressed with last year’s rookies James Cook and Khalil Shakir

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills’ offense looked like a plane crash by the end of the 2022 NFL season. Quarterback Josh Allen played the back half of the season with an elbow injury, the team was shuffling offensive linemen around all season long, they brought back veteran receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley in an attempt to help ignite an offense that wasn’t producing like fans had come to expect. And Stefon Diggs wasn’t happy.

But head coach Sean McDermott seemed unfazed by it all when he met with the media while at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday.

“You see players coming on more in their third season rather than in their second, more so of late” he said, causing some quizzical looks since one of the Bills play makers, Gabe Davis, who seemed to disappoint this season was playing in his third NFL season.

Davis ended 2021 on a high note with an exceptional postseason putting up 242 yards on ten receptions and snagging five touchdowns in the Bills’ two playoff games. It was widely expected that Davis would continue to be a hot hand and take some of the pressure off Diggs, Buffalo’s undeniable WR1.

But that wasn’t the case. At least not to the average fan. Or even to defenses that still continued to double team Diggs, causing frustration on the Buffalo offensive sideline as the season went on and Allen’s arm grew tired and sore from an injury he acquired in Week 9.

“I thought Gabe did well,” McDermott defended Davis’ season. “He had some rough moments,” McDermott added, but isn’t concerned for Davis moving forward.

To back up McDermott’s claim, Davis’ year-three numbers were slightly better than his year two. He had 35 receptions both years but added an additional 50 yards and an extra touchdown in 2022. The problem — for the offense and the fans — was that Davis went from being a WR3 in year two to being the team’s WR2 in 2022, so it’s definitely safe to say that expectations would have been higher.

McDermott did speak about rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir saying that he had a good year and that he’s expecting more from him next season.

“Shakir will take a big step for us into year two,” the coach, who just moments before said that year three is where he really looks for the biggest improvements, said.

He also touched briefly on the running back position, saying that rookie James Cook — who averaged 5.7 yards per carry, producing 507 yards on just 89 carries as he took a back seat to fourth-year back Devin Singletary (4.63 average, 819 yards on 177 carries) — played well in year one.

“James Cook had a really good first season,” McDermott said. “In particular at the back half of the season,”

Of course, Cook only had 28 attempts through Week 9 of the 2022 NFL season compared to 61 attempts in the final nine weeks.

With the push for more attempts for Cook during the second half of the season, his production when given a chance, and McDermott’s lack of mention of Singletary — the running back the team has stuck with through thick and thin for the past four seasons and who is set to become a free agent when the league year begins in two weeks — in McDermott’s press conference, it would appear that the team has maybe, possibly, made its decision on who will be RB1 in 2023. But don’t bet on it yet — there’s still Nyheim Hines to sort out, a draft to go through, and free agency to navigate. The only thing ever certain in Buffalo is Josh Allen.