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Is Bills Running Back James Cook A Better Option Than Zack Moss?


With their second pick this year the Buffalo Bills selected James Cook, a running back out of Georgia. The run game for the Bills has been adequate but not exactly enough to make an impact and the team has been wanting someone to supplant Josh Allen as the number one or number two runner. For a while, they were happy with Zack Moss as RB2 but it’s time for a change and it’s time for Cook to get in the kitchen.

Who He Is Replacing

Zack Moss was drafted in 2020 one year after the current RB1 Devin Singletary. As a third-round pick and 2019 PAC-12 Offensive Player of the year, the expectations were high for the running back out of Utah. Unfortunately, Moss’s injury has plagued him his entire career as he suffered a torn meniscus in 2018 and has been in recovery mode ever since. Despite this and his lack of speed and abilities to cut quickly, he has had a semi-successful career in buffalo as a red zone rusher.

His willingness to take hits and ability to truck through defenders makes him a coach favorite. However, the sustainability of his run game has been called into question and since he was drafted, he’s been seeing fewer and fewer snaps. The final straw to break the camel’s back was the drafting of James Cook and the slew of signings this past off-season to give some competition to see where he stands.

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He made it through the offseason but a fumble in the first game of the year and a lack of big plays has been causing him to fall off the radar. Moss is an adequate backup running back that is serviceable in a pinch. He is definitively not an explosive power back as the Bills had once hoped. While it’s always great for a running back to be good at pass blocking, it shouldn’t be their best feature. Hence why the Bills drafted Cook.


Why The Bills Should Get Cookin’

First, let’s acknowledge the cowhided elephant in the room, James Cook fumbled the first snap of his career. This isn’t unheard of as he joins other well-known running backs like LaDainian Tomlinson, Jerome Bettis, and (most recently) Saquon Barkley who did the same. Now, this doesn’t mean he will go on to have a career like those previously mentioned but it does mean not to assume it’s indicative of a lack of playing ability.

The problem is Cook plays for a coaching staff that (for better or worse) punishes mistakes. This staff has also had difficulty in the past choosing between players who show great work ethic and loyalty and those that can actually produce (See Nathan Peterman). Since his debut, Cook has only seen 16 snaps with the majority of those coming in garbage time. This makes him the back with the least number of touches. That said, he is also the only other offensive player on this Bills team to score a touchdown without the aid of Josh Allen.

The Steelers game last Sunday showed us the potential this young athlete has. The second half of the Steelers game was essentially garbage time as entering the third quarter the Bills had a 28-point lead. Singletary was only able to gather 19 additional yards in the third quarter, by comparison in the fourth quarter Cook was able to gather 30 which included a 24-yard run for a touchdown. I know at that point the Steelers were pretty much beat, but it shows what he can do when Cook feels comfortable.

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It was a similar story in the Titans game a few weeks back where on 11 attempts he gathered over 50 yards rushing with one of those rushes being 33 yards. I don’t think there is a doubt in anyone’s mind that he has shown potential. Cook (who is also the younger brother of multiple pro-bowl player Dalvin Cook) has shown that the ability is there, now he just needs the opportunity. Going forward Cook should get more and more snaps every game and be given the chance to make the plays we know he is capable of making.

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Written By

Husband. Father. Been a Bills fan all my life, stuck with them through the entirety of the drought and so glad to see them finally having their day in the sun. However, I'm still upset they benched Flutie.

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