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Is James Cook a Top-Five All Time Bills Running Back?


Shaw66

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I really didn't want to start a discussion about the backs in Bills' history, but I should have known that's what would happen.  

 

What I wanted to do was to start a discussion about Cook from the perspective of the great backs of the past.   I think what I've thought all along, and what the comments hear reinforce, is that Cook really hasn't been all that good.   There's a good argument to be made that at this point in his career, Cook may not be in the Bills' top 10.   For example, I guess when push comes to shove, I might take McGahee over Cook.  Obviously, I'd take Marshawn, even the Buffalo Marshawn, over Cook.  Probably Travis Henry.  

 

What Cook has going for him is his surprising speed and acceleration and his route running.   But to this point in his career, I have trouble getting past his fumbles and his drops.  There's a lack of concentration on display that makes me hope that (1) he changes or (2) someone else emerges.  I think his job is at risk unless and until he catches the ball and holds onto it more consistently.  

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My initial reaction was, "Shaw, my man, you are insane", but I somehow overlooked that he racked up 1500 yards and was third among running backs in YFS in 2023.  Those are some very impressive numbers.  I'll still say no, for now.  He needs to put together at least one more season in the 1300-1500 range and prove his durability.  I think he's a nice player.  Smooth catcher of the ball (when he isn't dropping gimmes).  Nice speed at the second level.  But nothing about him particularly stands out to me as special compared to guys like OJ, Thurman, Cribbs, Henry, Lynch, etc.  Cook's about on Spiller's level at this point.

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3 hours ago, Rocky Landing said:

These are the sorts of things that Fred Jackson heard his entire career. The Bills would bring someone in, everyone would crow about how they'd be the feature back, and FredX would end up with more snaps. 

Fred was a pass pro demon.  Best way to keep yourself on the field.

 

Just ask JJ Watt in EJ’s last game.

 

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Edited by FireChans
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7 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

What Cook has going for him is his surprising speed and acceleration and his route running.   But to this point in his career, I have trouble getting past his fumbles and his drops.  There's a lack of concentration on display that makes me hope that (1) he changes or (2) someone else emerges.  I think his job is at risk unless and until he catches the ball and holds onto it more consistently.  

His smoothness as a route runner and receiver is his elite skill.  When he's locked in, it's a beautiful thing to watch.  It made his lapses last year all the more frustrating, because we know how elite he can be in this department.

Just now, Taro Nimbus said:

Dude played 2 seasons so far with average numbers. 🤦‍♂️

Last season was in no way average.  1500+ yards (4.7 ypc, 10+ ypr) is elite in this day and age for an NFL running back.  

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40 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

What Cook has going for him is his surprising speed and acceleration and his route running.

 

I think what he has going for him is that he's the best RB we've had in the Josh Allen era. Singletary was fine but clearly had limitations. Moss was a bust for us. Cook showed up and immediately demonstrated the potential of an above average RB with speed playing on the field with Josh Allen. Make no mistake - him being the #3 RB in yards from scrimmage last year was as much a function of Josh Allen as it was of Cook himself. Could we have better, sure, but his skill set is probably the ideal skill set to take advantage of how defenses play Josh Allen so for that I am satisfied with his play.

 

I actually don't worry about his drops because they were ALL drops in or near the endzone. That tells me it is a matter of overthinking, not skill. He has zero problems with his hands. He just needs to get over whatever mental block screwed him up on those opportunities, and I find that much easier to overcome than a true physical limitation.

 

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3 hours ago, Royale with Cheese said:

I'm not even sure he's top 8 with only one year as primary starter.

Thomas

OJ

Gilchrist

Freddy

Travis Henry

Willis McGahee

McCoy

Lynch

 

You forgot Cribbs. He was special. 

Right now Cook probably is just ahead of Greg Bell and Spiller(one year wonder). By the end of this year he should surpass McGahee and Henry if they continue to feed him the ball in run and pass game. 

He has a long long way to go to get in the top 5 ( Thomas, Simpson, McCoy, Gilchrist, and Cribbs). Let's just hope he is not a one year wonder like Spiller and Terry Miller. 

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Comes down to consistency and longevity.  He has another season like last year he shoots up the list.  He has the tools to be the best player on offense next to Allen.   

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44 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

I really didn't want to start a discussion about the backs in Bills' history, but I should have known that's what would happen.  

 

What I wanted to do was to start a discussion about Cook from the perspective of the great backs of the past.   I think what I've thought all along, and what the comments hear reinforce, is that Cook really hasn't been all that good.   There's a good argument to be made that at this point in his career, Cook may not be in the Bills' top 10.   For example, I guess when push comes to shove, I might take McGahee over Cook.  Obviously, I'd take Marshawn, even the Buffalo Marshawn, over Cook.  Probably Travis Henry.  

 

What Cook has going for him is his surprising speed and acceleration and his route running.   But to this point in his career, I have trouble getting past his fumbles and his drops.  There's a lack of concentration on display that makes me hope that (1) he changes or (2) someone else emerges.  I think his job is at risk unless and until he catches the ball and holds onto it more consistently.  

You are asking people to project and compare him to all time greats when he has only played 2 years.  Tough ask. 

 

Agree the fumbles and drops need to get better.

FYI Christian McCaffrey fumbled 4 times last year too. 

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Not even close. He has one year as the feature back and even in that season he was on the field typically 50% of the snaps. He is generally pulled for pass blocking downs, short yardage downs and many times even as the receiving back. Long way to go before he is a top anything back.  

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2 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

What Cook has going for him is his surprising speed and acceleration and his route running.   But to this point in his career, I have trouble getting past his fumbles and his drops.  There's a lack of concentration on display that makes me hope that (1) he changes or (2) someone else emerges.  I think his job is at risk unless and until he catches the ball and holds onto it more consistently.  

So with Cook's routes its not an apples to apples comparison.

 

He's a running back running deep slot routes, that's what makes him the weapon he is.  How many RB's in the league can do that ?  Most RB's in the league are only catching short checkdowns out of the backfield.

 

Cook running deep routes makes him a matchup nightmare.

 

Now you are correct he has to clean up the drops on the deep routes and he will.  I have no doubt.  He was running deep routes at Georgia and never dropped the ball.

 

He just needs more time and he'll be something special.

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2 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

I really didn't want to start a discussion about the backs in Bills' history, but I should have known that's what would happen.  

 

What I wanted to do was to start a discussion about Cook from the perspective of the great backs of the past.   I think what I've thought all along, and what the comments hear reinforce, is that Cook really hasn't been all that good.   There's a good argument to be made that at this point in his career, Cook may not be in the Bills' top 10.   For example, I guess when push comes to shove, I might take McGahee over Cook.  Obviously, I'd take Marshawn, even the Buffalo Marshawn, over Cook.  Probably Travis Henry.  

 

What Cook has going for him is his surprising speed and acceleration and his route running.   But to this point in his career, I have trouble getting past his fumbles and his drops.  There's a lack of concentration on display that makes me hope that (1) he changes or (2) someone else emerges.  I think his job is at risk unless and until he catches the ball and holds onto it more consistently.  

Cook- I dont know about that -- you are counting on one season. I would take everyone else mentioned in this thread over Cook -- even greag Bell had better stats for 2 years

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8 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

I’ve always maintained that the Bills have the best stable of running backs in the history of the league.  No other team can match a top five of Gilchrist, Simpson, Cribbs, Thomas, and McCoy. 

 

This is a great point! I hadn't thought of it before. Dallas would also have a pretty good group with Tony Dorsett, Hershel Walker and Emmitt Smith. 

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4 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

I really didn't want to start a discussion about the backs in Bills' history, but I should have known that's what would happen.  

 

What I wanted to do was to start a discussion about Cook from the perspective of the great backs of the past.   I think what I've thought all along, and what the comments hear reinforce, is that Cook really hasn't been all that good.   There's a good argument to be made that at this point in his career, Cook may not be in the Bills' top 10.   For example, I guess when push comes to shove, I might take McGahee over Cook.  Obviously, I'd take Marshawn, even the Buffalo Marshawn, over Cook.  Probably Travis Henry.  

 

What Cook has going for him is his surprising speed and acceleration and his route running.   But to this point in his career, I have trouble getting past his fumbles and his drops.  There's a lack of concentration on display that makes me hope that (1) he changes or (2) someone else emerges.  I think his job is at risk unless and until he catches the ball and holds onto it more consistently.  

 

Cook is a nice back but doesn't rank with the best of Bills history.  Some of his stats  - like yards per carry - are helped by the fact that he's a running back on a passing team.  Opponents are almost exclusively focused on defending Josh.  That's what they game plan for.  They don't game plan for Cook.

 

Cook, like Thomas before him, is a dual purpose back.  But Thurm was better both as a receiver and runner.  Defenses in those  days had the unenviable tasks of trying to stop both Thurman and Kelly.   Cook and Allen are not nearly as fearsome a duo.  

 

I agree that there might be 10 backs from Bills history that I'd take over Cook.  

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