Bills Fans Puzzled Over James Cook’s Mysterious Move Out of Starting Lineup

James Cook

Getty Bills running back James Cook rushes for a touchdown against the Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2023.

Running back James Cook is in the midst of a breakout season for the Buffalo Bills, but was mysteriously dropped out of the starting lineup for the team’s Sunday night matchup against the New York Giants.

The Bills started the game with veteran back Latavius Murray in the backfield, though Cook found his way to the field during the team’s second drive of the game.

“RB Latavius Murray played all three snaps on the first offensive drive. He’s also now back on the field to start this next drive,” ESPN reporter Alaina Getzenberg shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The move left some Bills fans puzzled, wondering whether the decision to start Murray over Cook was a matchup issue or if Cook was in the dog house with head coach Sean McDermott.

James Cook Leading Bills on the Ground

Going into the team’s October 15 game against the Giants, the second-year Cook had been the most productive back for the Bills. He rushed 61 times for 292 yards, a 4.8 yards-per-rush average, with one rushing touchdown. After a slow start to his rookie season, Cook took over the role as lead running back by the conclusion of the 2022 season and held the role through the offseason.

Despite his strong start to the year, Cook is coming off a difficult game against the Jaguars, as he rushed five times for a total of negative-4 yards. Buffalo’s offense struggled to move the ball against the aggressive Jaguars, not scoring their first points until close to halftime.

The lineup change left some Bills fans wondering why Cook might have been dropped out of the starting lineup.

James Cook not the starting RB anymore? Latavius Murray out there to start the game. SMH. I don’t understand these coaches man,” one fan wrote on X.

Reporter Matt Parrino of suggested that the Bills may have intended to start Murray in order to spread the touches around to more running backs in order to get the running game going.

“Latavius Murray in to start the game today for the Bills,” Parrino wrote. “We talked on BKL about Buffalo potentially leaning a bit more into RB2 and RB3 to get run game going.”

Buffalo’s Running Game Expected to Play Important Role

Coming into Sunday night’s game, some insiders had expected the running game to be important for the Bills against the Giants. Sharif Phillips-Keaton of USA Today’s Bills Wire wrote before the game that with bad weather in the forecast, the Bills may need to control the ball in order to put away the Giants.

“The Bills are committed to passing the football given their pairing of star quarterback Josh Allen and superstar wide receiver Stefon Diggs,” Phillips-Keaton wrote. “However, given the projected weather for Sunday night’s game, Buffalo may need to rethink its strategy.

“As of right now, the weather is supposed to be rainy at the time of the game. That, combined with the fact that Buffalo is more than a two-touchdown favorite over the Giants, running the football may be the best plan of attack against an undermanned Giants squad.”

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