LeSean McCoy delivers on Bills' hopes against Jets
One of the first big moves of the 2015 offseason was the Bills’ trade for LeSean McCoy. After September, the trade didn’t seem to be working out well for Buffalo. After his first three games, McCoy was averaging 3.4 yards per carry, less than 50 rushing yards per game, had forced four players to miss tackles on him, and was injured by the end of the month. When McCoy returned in Week 6, things looked a lot better. Over his next three games, he averaged 5.4 yards per carry, 90 rushing yards per game, and forced eight players to miss tackles on his carries.
On the Thursday night game against the Jets, McCoy had his best game as a Buffalo Bill yet. On 19 carries, he rushed for 112 yards, and forced six miss tackles. On top of that, he had five catches for 47 yards and two tackles avoided. He was the best player on offense, and without him, the Bills may not have gotten the victory.
Part of what made McCoy’s game so impressive is that it came against the Jets’ defense. Going into the offseason, the Jets already had arguably the most impressive defensive line against the run with Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, and Muhammad Wilkerson. In the draft, they added Rookie of the Year candidate Leonard Williams. As a unit, they’ve been able to hold three of the eight backs they’ve faced (with 10 or more carries) to 21 or fewer yards. Both Ryan Mathews and Latavius Murray managed 100+ yard games against the Jets this year, but both needed 20 or more carries to do it, and both had runs of more than 25 yards to help get their total up. On Thursday, McCoy got to over 100 on just 19 carries, and no runs beyond 16 yards.
Like most games, the Jets’ defense got the best of the Bills’ running backs more often than not. On McCoy’s 11 worst carries, he was held to just 13 yards. Take out Karlos Williams’ best carry, and he was held to 11 yards on six tries. However, unlike most games, there was a high percentage of plays the offense was successful on the ground. On eight of McCoy’s carries, he had between 8 and 16 yards to help move the Bills’ offense downfield. On some of the runs, McCoy was doing most of the work himself, making good cuts and running with speed to avoid the Jets’ defense. On other plays, he had a lot of help from his run blockers. For example, Seantrel Henderson was able to get a successful block on the Jets’ defense on a few of these plays, which helped earn him a +2.1 overall grade. That is by far the best grade of his career to this point.
At this point in the season, Buffalo is 5-4, with two of those losses coming to currently-undefeated teams. Now that the run game is working how the Bills had hoped coming into the season, Buffalo is primed to be in good position for a Wild Card spot, and can maybe make some noise in the playoffs.