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Bills Today: Pieces in place for dynamic backfield

Posted Oct 12, 2017

Here’s the Bills news of note for Oct. 12th.


1 - Pieces in place for dynamic backfield
The Bills showed a lot of belief in Mike Tolbert this offseason. The team made some moves to make the 10-year veteran into a backup role. Of course, LeSean McCoy was the team’s feature back. With the two, Buffalo has a duo that has potential to wreak havoc.

ESPN Insider, Field Yates, ranked all 32 NFL backfield duos from best to worst. He had the Bills close to the top of the list, ranking them third. McCoy’s elusiveness and Tolbert’s power is no easy task for opposing defenders.

“There might not be a more dissimilar challenge a defense could face from two backs on the same team,” Yates said.

McCoy is a Swiss army knife out of the backfield. He can kill you from the air or ground. The 29-year-old may be off to a slow start running the ball, but every team knows what he’s capable of. McCoy has boosted his production this season as a receiver. He leads the team in receptions with 27. It took him until Week 10 last season to record that many catches.

“McCoy is one of the best make-you-miss backs in the league -- he forced the third-most missed tackles last season (61) according to Pro Football Focus… and McCoy is gifted as a receiver,” Yates said.

To come in and tap out McCoy when needed is Mike Tolbert. In his first year serving as Buffalo’s backup he has provided a nice spark. The 31-year-old has 37 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown.

“Tolbert is a bulldozer. Tackling Tolbert is a business decision for defenders… Tolbert can polish off drives with his no-frills style,” Yates said. “Buffalo is a ground-and-pound offense with the requisite ingredients to be so.”

2 - Hughes has another superb performance
Bills defensive end, Jerry Hughes, has established himself as one of the league’s premier edge defenders. Another week of blazing into the backfield has shown Hughes is one of the best at what he does.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hughes (93.9) was the highest graded edge defender in Week Five. He topped: Joey Bosa (89.8), Vinny Curry (87.8), and Robert Ayers (87.1).

“Hughes was sensational in Week Five, earning high marks as both a pass rusher (84.5 pass rushing grade) and in run defense (95.7 run defense grade),” PFF said.

In Sundays game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Hughes had four tackles and one quarterback hit. It wasn’t an eye-popping performance on the stat sheet, but his impact was significant.

“The veteran out of TCU tallied six total pressures on 30 pass rush snaps and all four of his tackles constituted as stops,” PFF said.

Hughes is on pace to surpass his sack totals from 2015 and 2016. Much to credit is being back to a 4-3 defense. The same defense where he recorded consecutive 10-plus sack seasons in 2013 and 2014.

3 - Weather won’t worry the Bills
For a team who’s located in Orchard Park, it’s safe to say that some brutal weather is on the horizon, especially with three home games in December. In the end, the conditions are always the handled as effectively by both teams. Head coach, Sean McDermott, has made sure his team is at an advantage for those games.

Center, Eric Wood, joined WGR this week to discuss the mindset McDermott has installed in his players.

“One of our mantras this year with coach McDermott is no matter what the circumstances are - rain, snow, wind, embrace it. Don’t complain about it, don’t waste energy complaining about it. We put so much focus on being adaptable, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, don’t let it affect you,” he said.

The team was tested on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Consistent rain poured down on Paul Brown Stadium for the entirety of the game. The Bills were opportunistic in the conditions. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde recorded interceptions. Lorenzo Alexander laid the boom on A.J. Green to force a fumble.

As much as the Bills were able to adapt to the condition, in his nine-year career, Wood hasn’t seen rain like he played in last Sunday.

“It was raining so hard literally I would squeeze my hands together and water would come out of my gloves. We had to change our shoes and socks at halftime cause you’re sloshing around in your shoes,” he said. “It was probably the most consistent rain I’ve ever played through.”

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