McGahee’s season has been a disappointment

By Connor Byrne  |   Wednesday, December 07, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

Buffalo Bills
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In 2004, Willis McGahee started in 11 of the team's games and finished the season with 1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns. He finished the season at a decent 4.0 yards per carry but that was because he had some poor numbers in "mop-up" duty in the beginning of the season. No starting back looked better than McGahee in the second half of last season. This season, through 12 starts, he's rushed for 1,029 yards and 4 touchdowns. Clearly, his production isn't where it was last season.

Despite reaching the 1,000 yard mark, McGahee's season has been a major disappointment. He's averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and his production inside the red zone hasn't been nearly as good as it was last year. He's rushed for over 100 yards just four times this year and hasn't hit the century mark in a game since the Bills' loss to the New England Patriots on October 30th.

In 2004--essentially his rookie year since he missed all of 2003--McGahee looked like the NFL's next great running back and excited Buffalo Bills fans across the globe because supposedly, he wasn't totally recovered from the severe knee injury that befell him in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in January of 2003. Fans figured that if he had played that well when not being totally healthy, how great would he be in 2005 and beyond?

To the chagrin of Bills fans, McGahee has regressed from his tremendous first campaign in 2004. He is no longer hitting holes, showing breakaway ability, or using the killer stiff-arm that fans came to know and love last season. As a matter of fact, his longest run of the 2005 season is currently 27 yards. Granted, he had a 62-yard gain get called back because of holding back in October. But still, 27 yards should not be the longest run of the season for a player who has called himself "The best back in the NFL," on numerous occasions.

Over the team's past four games, it's been evident that McGahee hasn't run with the same zest or effort that he did in the team's first eight games. Through those eight games it appeared that McGahee was going to finish the season in the NFL's top five in rushing yards and make his first Pro Bowl. The last four games McGahee has totaled 66 yards, 39 yards, 53 yards, and 81 yards. Obviously, those four showings have killed his All-Pro aspirations and have aided in the self-destruction of the 2005 Bills.

The question remains, why has the young running back folded in this manner? Some of the blame needs to go to a poor offensive line. Some of the fault needs to lie on Bills head coach Mike Mularkey. It's fairly clear that McGahee doesn't have a great deal of respect for Mularkey or anyone else on the Bills' coaching staff. Thirdly, some of the blame needs to fall on McGahee, himself. The former Heisman trophy candidate from the University of Miami probably isn't enjoying himself in Buffalo's less than tropical weather. It was easy for McGahee to enjoy himself last winter in Buffalo because he was the toast of the town. This year he's demonstrating his spoiled side and showing that he's only going to show up and compete when he sees fit.

The final four games of the Buffalo Bills' season could very much reveal the true character that McGahee has. Currently, the team is 4-8 and all but eliminated from the playoffs. Will he run at full speed or will he continue to run at the soft pace he's ran at since November 14th? I guess we'll all find out what this young man is made of, and it all begins this Sunday in Buffalo's contest against the Patriots.

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