Matthews: No Offense, Bills Need McCoy

posted by Bob Matthews - 

A HORRIBLE THOUGHT: THE OFFENSE OF THE 2018 BILLS MINUS LeSEAN McCOY

Buffalo Bills star running back LeSean McCoy turns 30 on Thursday. He’s probably had happier birthdays.

At this point, the only thing we pretty much know about what happened to Delicia Cordon in McCoy’s house very early one morning this week is that she suffered a brutal beating. And we have a pretty good idea of why. Robbery. But we don’t know who did it.

The main reason to believe McCoy is completely innocent of wrongdoing is that he figures to be too smart to risk fortune, fame and reputation by having anything to do with what happened to Ms. Cordon.

Another thing we pretty much know: the offense for the 2018 Buffalo Bills would be much worse without him – and it already could be the NFL’s worst right now. Is any coordinator in the NFL walking into a job this season with less to talent on his roster to work with?

Let’s be honest. The Bills have three huge ??? at quarterback, probably the league’s worst (on paper) group of wide receivers, ??? running backs behind McCoy and a suspect offensive line. What’s left to be bad at?

The name of the game in the NFL is passing and Buffalo isn’t likely to do that very well.

One team in the 32-team NFL had more running plays than rushing plays last season – the Bills (487 to 476). That was by design because the passing game was so weak. Buffalo ranked 31st in yards passing.

But Buffalo ranked only 14th in yards per rush (4.1). The Bills ran a lot but not all that well.

McCoy was by far the most effective offensive player for the Bills. He ranked fourth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage: 1,138 yards rushing + 448 yards receiving for 1,586 yards: 99.1 yards per game.

Coach Sean McDermott doesn’t want to overwork his main offensive weapon, but McCoy figures to get even more touches this year than last season (346) – mainly by default.

Until this mess is resolved, McCoy’s status is the key to Buffalo’s 2018 season.

It is a headache that McDermott, general manager Brandon Beane and the team’s ever-hopeful fan base didn’t need.

FRONTIER FIELD RANKS 11TH AMONG 14 IL STADIUMS IN THIS POLL

I suppose many Rochester Red Wings fans will be surprised to learn that Frontier Field ranks fourth-lowest among the 14 International League stadiums in a Toledo Blade poll of 19 veteran past-and-present radio play-by-play broadcasters who’ve visited all of the facilities several times per season.

Each broadcaster was asked to rank every ballpark (except his own), with 13 points to the top stadium down to 1 point for the bottom park. The results (first-place votes in parentheses; followed by average grade):

1. Charlotte (10) 11.8...the IL’s newest stadium; an imposing skyline including the Panthers’ NFL stadium

2. Indianapolis (5) 10.9

3. Columbus (1) 9.9

4. Toledo (0) 9.7

5. Louisville (2) 8.8

6. Lehigh Valley (0) 8.1

7. Durham (1) 7.4...5 votes for worst park

8. Buffalo (0) 6.2...one knock was too big (capacity 16,907)

9. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (0) 5.8

10. Pawtucket (0) 5.4

11. Rochester (0) 4.2

12. Gwinnett (0) 4.1

13. Norfolk (0) 2.8...4 votes for worst park

14. Syracuse (0) 1.7...10 votes for worst park. One voter noted that Norfolk and Syracuse are “cookie-cutter ballparks” and “not maintained very well.”

The main reason for Rochester’s modest No. 11 ranking it the fact that the majority of the IL’s stadiums were built after Frontier Field. They’re newer...Age is beginning to show at Frontier and spending more money to maintain it in the present would be a prudent move for the future...Most of the newer stadiums have concourses in which the fans can mingle and buy concessions while watching the game. That concept wasn’t in vogue when Frontier was built... The lack of a roof to protect fans from rain and too much sun hurts Frontier Field a bit (I don’t count the overhang down the right field line)...The trees obscuring the passing trains don’t help the ambiance...I know the vast Death Valley dimensions in left-center field don’t bother the broadcasters nearly as much as it bothers me (I much prefer home runs over deep fly outs).

For the record, the year the stadiums opened: Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium 1946...Buffalo’s Coca-Cola Field opened 1988......Norfolk’s Harbor Park 1993...Durham Bulls Athletic Park 1995...Indianapolis’ Victory Field 1996...Rochester’s Frontier Field 1997...Syracuse’s NBT Bank Stadium 1997...Louisville’s Slugger Field 2000...Toledo’s Fifth Third Field 2002...Allentown’s Coca-Cola Park 2008...Columbus’ Huntington Park 2009...Gwinnett’s Coolray Field 2009...Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s completely refurbished PNC Field 2013...Charlotte’s BB&T Ballpark 2014.

RED WINGS CONTINUE TO WASTE A LOT OF GOOD PITCHING

The Rochester Red Wings are 41-44 at the Triple-A All-Star break and showing no encouraging signs of a miracle finish to make the International League playoffs.

The pitching has been solid all season, despite the shuttle system between Rochester and the Twin Cities. The Red Wings have used 23 different pitchers (including 12 starters) and Minnesota has used 24 pitchers (including 9 different starters).

 Rochester’s 3.33 ERA ranks 2nd in the 14-team International League. The Red Wings have allowed only 666 hits in 739 2/3 innings and rank tied for 3rd in shutouts (8) and saves (25).

The offense was the big question mark entering this season and nothing has changed. The Red Wings rank last in several major categories:

Batting average -- .229 (14th)...2nd-worst Pawtucket is .237

Runs – 288 (14th)...2nd-worst Pawtucket has 315

Hits – 624 (14th)...2nd-worst Buffalo has 659

Doubles – 114 (14th)...2nd-worst Buffalo has 172

Total bases – 940 (14th)...2nd-worst Buffalo has 992

On-base percentage -- .307 (14th)

Slugging percentage -- .345 (14th)

OPS -- .653 (14th).

The Red Wings have had a relatively experienced starting lineup and bench but the team overall has performed below expectations. Rochester has used 29 position players. The list of released hitters includes Nick Buss, Chris Carter, Jermaine Curtis, Taylor Featherston, James Ramsey and Brock Stassi.

BUFFALO AWAITS THE ARRIVAL OF VLADIMIR GUERRERO JR.

Baseball America’s Mid-Season Minor-League Player of the Year – 19-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- is headed for the Buffalo Bisons.

The 19-year-old sensation began this season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Double-A Eastern League. He was batting .407 with 11 HRs and 55 RBI in 53 games – with 21 walks and 20 strikeouts (he has more patience at the plate than his Hall-of-Fame free-swinging father used to have).

He’s been recovering from a mild knee injury suffered the first week in June and is expected to join Buffalo very soon. Buffalo fans are justifiably excited. Most scouts expect him to be a superstar.

The Bisons next visit Rochester August 28 (doubleheader), 29 and 30.  Will Guerrero Jr. still be with them? The fans and media in Toronto have been screaming for the Blue Jays to promote him to the big-league club for months.

SPRAYING BASEBALL HITS TO ALL FIELDS

The Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 6-5 Tuesday night. The Orioles have 5 wins against the Yankees this season and a total of 10 wins against the other 28 teams...The Yankees are 4-5 vs. the O’s this season and 55-26 vs. all other teams.

Boston has 8 straight wins, is 15-3 in its last 18 games and a MLB-best 64-29.

Albert Pujols (Angels) was homerless in 16 straight games before hitting HRs Monday and Tuesday nights. He needs 33 RBI to reach 2,000 for his career.

Bryce Harper (Washington) was 0-for-5 with 4 strikeouts Tuesday night and his batting average dropped to .215.

The Phillies are 10-3 in their last 13 games after a 7-3 win at the Mets. The Mets are 4-19 in their last 23 home games.

Kansas City ended a 10-game losing streak and scored more than five runs in a game Tuesday night for the first time since June 4 in a 9-4 win at Minnesota.

Twins pitcher Ervin Santana is scheduled to make a rehab start for the Red Wings on Sunday.

Bartolo Colon (Texas) will start Wednesday against Boston in his latest bid to top Dennis Martinez’s record for most MLB victories (245) by a Latin-American pitcher.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, July 11

Joey Bosa (23)...Caroline Wozniacki (28)...Patrick Peterson (28)...Chris Cooley (26)...Wesley Johnson (31)...Jacoby Jones (34)...Andre Johnson (37)...Javier Lopez (41)...Ken Irvin (46)...Rod Strickland (52)...Al MacInnis (55)...Leon Spinks (65).

Thursday, July 12

Albert Wilson (26)...Chasen Shreve (28)...LeSean McCoy (30)...Inbee Park (30)...Patrick Beverley (30)...Sami Zayn (34)...Howie Kendrick (35)...Brock Lesner (41)...Jerry Ostroski (48)...Chad Brown (48)...Mario Soto (62)...Gilles Meloche (68)...Paul Silas (75). Cheryl Ladd (67), Richard Simmons (70) and Bill Cosby (81) are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

July 11

68 years ago (1950), Boston’s Ted Williams broke his elbow in the All-Star Game...50 years ago (1968), Earl Weaver replaced Hank Bauer as manager of the Baltimore Orioles...33 years ago (1985), Nolan Ryan became the first pitcher with 4,000 strikeouts...30 years ago (1988), Mike Tyson hired Donald Trump as an advisor...25 years ago (1993), Jack Nicklaus won the 14th U.S. Senior Open...8 yerars ago (2010), Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 win the 19th World Cup.

July 12

117 years ago (1901), Cy Young won his 300th game...97 years ago (1921), Babe Ruth broke the MLB record with his 137th career home run...69 years ago (1949), baseball owners agreed to erect warning paths before each outfield fence...64 years ago (1954), the Major League Baseball Players Association was formed...43 years ago (1975), Tom Watson won the 114th British Open...39 years ago (1979), the Chicago White Sox had to forfeit the second half of a home doubleheader against Detroit when fans went wild destroying records on “Disco Demolition Night”. ... 20 years ago (1998), France beat Brazil 3—for the 16th World Cup.

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