LeSean McCoy’s best days in Buffalo are over. Let’s face it. It’s time for the Bills to set him free and give him a chance to make a splash somewhere else.
The two-time All-Pro, who is currently in the concussion protocol after exiting last week’s game with a head injury, is one of the few backs who is tradeable at 30 years old. He’s still elusive, explosive and a definite threat between the tackles and in the pass game.
The Bills’ best offensive weapon since his arrival in 2015, McCoy was a big reason the team ended its playoff drought in 2017, when he put up over 1,500 scrimmage yards. A year later, Shady is on pace for just 919 yards from scrimmage, but it’s not his fault. The Bills’ offense looks sooo much different than it did a year ago, after the offseason departures of quarterback Tyrod Taylor and THREE offensive linemen — including left tackle Cordy Glenn (now with Cincinnati) and Pro Bowlers Richie Incognito and Eric Wood (both retired). Buffalo is in rebuild mode, and it doesn’t help that rookie quarterback Josh Allen is out for several weeks with an elbow injury.
Let’s be honest, the league’s second-worst offense isn’t going anywhere this season. Trading the six-time Pro Bowler would benefit both parties, with the Bills acquiring draft picks that could spur a rebuild this offseason and McCoy making an immediate impact for a team with legitimate playoff and/or championship aspirations. When he’s healthy, McCoy is one of the best running backs out there.
That said, which teams need Shady’s services most? Here are four options (in alphabetical order):
BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-3): Ranking 24th in rushing, the Baltimore Ravens, who average just 3.4 rushing yards per carry, could use a game-changer in the backfield. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry in his career, McCoy is far superior, talent-wise, to what we’ve seen from Baltimore’s pair of middle-of-the-road running backs (Alex Collins and Buck Allen). The shifty Buffalo Bill would give the offense another dimension, similar to what Ray Rice did for the Ravens in their Super Bowl XLVII run. Not to mention, the league’s top-ranked defense is going to give the offense plenty of opportunities to score. And Shady’s ability to provide a consistent ground presence could help the Ravens’ offense control the clock in big games.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-4): After Jay Ajayi (knee) was lost for the season earlier this month, Corey Clement asked GM Howie Roseman not to bring another running back in to an already crowded backfield (which includes Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles). Roseman said the backfield needed to provide a good reason for him not to look for outside help. Roseman got his answer this week, as Philly royally struggled to run the ball (58 rushing yards and 2.4 yards per carry) in a loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Doug Pederson is already familiar with the veteran back after being together in Philly from 2009 to 2012. He fits Pederson’s offense and could provide the same boost Ajayi did a year ago when he was traded from the Dolphins. (Ajayi led the NFL’s third-ranked rushing unit by the end of 2017). The Eagles, who currently rank 21st in rushing, need a spark heading into the second half of the season, and Shady’s return to Philly could be a big one.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (3-3): The Seahawks’ run game has improved immensely of late, with Seattle putting up 172 rushing yards per game in the last three games. Their running back committee features Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny, and they’ve done a good job taking some pressure off Russell Wilson. The one thing this backfield lacks, though, is an explosive presence. That’s where McCoy comes into play. Adding him to the offense would make it much tougher for opposing defenses, because he’s a home-run hitter who must be accounted for at all times.
If the football gods put McCoy in Seattle, Wilson and Shady would be the best QB-RB duo in the league. Think Vince Young and Chris Johnson, but better. Wilson has the ability to open up lanes for McCoy, who will in turn open up play-action for Wilson. Think of the possibilities.
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TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-3): As bad as the defense is, the Bucs are still in position to make a run at the postseason. They lead the league in passing yards (364 yards per game) but sit 29th in rushing. This lackluster ground game features Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones. Barber has shouldered the load so far, with 74 attempts for 260 yards (3.5 yards per carry), while Jones hasn’t been the player Dirk Koetter initially thought he was getting in the draft. In total, this pair has one rushing touchdown. The unit is in dire need of help.
I played for Dirk Koetter in Jacksonville, where he was the offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011. McCoy is a versatile back who could produce right now in Koetter’s system. He’d also be a huge teaching tool for the younger running backs.
Speaking of Koetter, he’s walking on thin ice right now, and his seat feels hotter by the minute. Running back is a big area of concern, so why not bring in a player who could largely improve production at the position? His seat could cool off with the right move.
Former NFL rushing leader and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2018 season. His rankings are based on this season’s efforts alone. Here is MJD’s list heading into Week 8.
NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week’s rankings.
Previous rank: No. 1
Gurley has scored eight times in the last three weeks. At this rate, it looks like he’ll hold this top spot throughout the season.
2018 stats: 7 games | 144 att | 686 rush yds | 4.8 ypc | 11 rush TDs | 25 rec | 270 rec yds | 3 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 3
Forced missed tackles have set Hunt apart this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he leads the NFL with 31 forced missed tackles on rushes, eight more than any other player. And since entering the league in 2017, Hunt has forced 92 missed tackles, 21 more than any other player.
2018 stats: 7 games | 118 att | 542 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 15 rec | 226 rec yds | 4 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 6
Kamara led the team in carries last week but didn’t see the same big production he had when Mark Ingram was suspended. This week against Minnesota, we should see Sean Payton lean on his dynamic back, who had 105 scrimmage yards and a receiving touchdown in last year’s playoff loss.
2018 stats: 6 games | 79 att | 363 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 40 rec | 362 rec yds | 1 rec TD
Previous rank: No. 2
The Chargers’ run game really missed Gordon in London, as they rushed for a measly 47 yards. With Gordon on the field, Los Angeles has turned into a top-tier threat in the AFC. Without him, though, the offense is lacking.
2018 stats: 6 games | 91 att | 466 rush yds | 5.1 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 30 rec | 279 rec yds | 3 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 4
Under the lights Monday night, Barkley had 23 touches for 94 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. It was the first time this season that the rookie failed to amass 100 scrimmage yards.
2018 stats: 7 games | 98 att | 481 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 49 rec | 424 rec yds | 2 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 10
Sure, Peterson is running behind a really good offensive line, but he proved Sunday that he’s still the physical runner we’ve seen the last decade. Against the Cowboys in Week 7, Peterson notched 99 rushing yards, his second-highest total in a game this season.
2018 stats: 6 games | 101 att | 438 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 8 rec | 144 rec yds | 0 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 5
Zeke said it was "absolutely mandatory" that the Cowboys win against the Redskins last week. He followed up that statement with a troubling 42 scrimmage yards. That’s not how you get it done, Zeke. Not even close.
2018 stats: 7 games | 132 att | 619 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 25 rec | 175 rec yds | 1 rec TD
Previous rank: No. 7
Still no sign of Le’Veon Bell, which means Conner will likely get the start against the Browns this weekend. Conner knows it’s only a matter of time before Bell returns, so expect him to take advantage of his playing time with a big performance.
2018 stats: 6 games | 103 att | 453 rush yds | 4.4 ypc | 7 rush TDs | 26 rec | 257 rec yds | 0 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 12
Cohen continues to be the most productive back in Chicago, leading all Bears players with 512 scrimmage yards this season. Against the Patriots, Cohen was a reliable weapon for Mitchell Trubisky and finished with eight receptions for 69 yards and a receiving TD.
2018 stats: 6 games | 38 att | 184 rush yds | 4.8 ypc | 1 rush TD | 29 rec | 328 rec yds | 2 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 9
After exploding for 130.3 scrimmage yards per game through the first four weeks, McCaffrey has come back to Earth, posting 73 scrimmage yards per game in his last two games. Hopefully, his decreasing amount of touches will increase in the coming weeks.
2018 stats: 6 games | 78 att | 378 rush yds | 4.8 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 40 rec | 289 rec yds | 1 rec TD
Previous rank: No. 14
All great players ask questions and apply what they learn to get better. White is this kind of player, Bill Belichick said Tuesday, which is a reason White has improved over the course of his career. So when Sony Michel left the game on the first play of the second quarter Sunday, White carried the load and scored a pair of touchdowns.
2018 stats: 7 games | 40 att | 189 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 1 rush TD | 45 rec | 380 rec yds | 6 rec TDs
Previous rank: Not ranked
Johnson makes his debut in this list after leading all players in Week 7 with 158 rushing yards. He is quietly putting together a solid rookie campaign and finally giving Matthew Stafford a run game. Johnson is great between the tackles, has great vision and breaks tackles in the open field.
2018 stats: 6 games | 69 att | 444 rush yds | 6.4 ypc | 1 rush TDs | 15 rec | 89 rec yds | 0 rec TDs
Previous rank: No. 8
In their last two games, both losses, the Bengals have averaged just 63.5 rush yards per game. With Mixon’s big-play ability, the Bengals must find a way to get their young running back going to end this slide.
2018 stats: 5 games | 84 att | 386 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 16 rec | 100 rec yds | 1 rec TD
Previous rank: Not ranked
The Broncos’ run game has come back to life, with Denver posting 131 rushing yards against Arizona. Lindsay, an undrafted rookie, leads the team with 436 rushing yards after a good outing against the Cardinals — 14 carries for 90 yards and a TD.
2018 stats: 7 games | 75 att | 436 rush yds | 5.8 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 15 rec | 119 rec yds | 1 rec TD
Previous rank: Not ranked
Murray has been the catalyst for a resurgent Vikings rushing attack during a three-game win streak. He’s coming off his two best games of the season, and a clash with New Orleans is up next.
2018 stats: 7 games | 69 att | 330 rush yds | 4.8 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 12 rec | 77 rec yds | 0 rec TDs
Dropped out: Sony Michel, Patriots (previously No. 11); Carlos Hyde, Jaguars (No. 13); Jordan Howard, Bears (No. 15).
The Ground Index delivered by FedEx ranks NFL running back performances all season long. Check out the FedEx Ground NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote.
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