The 2022 Buffalo Bills season has been going well overall. The team is 3-1 after four weeks and looks like a strong playoff contender. However, despite the good start, there have been some disappointments for the team. Injuries are the biggest problem right now, as the team has missed several starters each game and lost All-Pro safety Micah Hyde during the season. Also, just as most of the 2022 Bills roster has played so far, there are some players who aren’t playing as well as expected. The biggest individual disappointment in four weeks is probably the Bills’ James Cook. The rookie running back was supposed to add an extra dimension to Buffalo’s offense. However, James Cook’s 2022 season got off to a bad start and he has yet to recover. Here’s why Cook is the Bills’ biggest disappointment through the first four weeks of the 2022 NFL season.
The Bills’ biggest disappointments in 2022
There weren’t many dire needs for the Buffalo Bills on either side of the ball heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. The team was skinnier at cornerback, especially with Tre’Davious White recovering from a knee injury, and the team addresses that. in the first round with Florida CB Kaiir Elam (and again in round 6 with Villanova CB Christian Benford).
After Elam, the Bills’ 2022 draft picks could be spent on luxury items.
After cornerback, the biggest area of need in Buffalo was in the running game. The Bills ranked sixth in rushing yards in 2021 with 2,209 yards. However, if you take away quarterback Josh Allen’s 763 yards, that drops to 1,466 yards, which puts the Bills 30th in the league.
Running back Devin Singletary had a solid season last year, rushing for 870 yards and adding 228 receiving yards. After that, Zach Moss was fine, producing 542 all-purpose yards, and Matt Breida added 197 total yards.
Landing a new, more dynamic running back in the draft would be a priority for the Bills this offseason. General manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott accomplished this task in the second round by selecting Georgia running back James Cook.
Splitting time during his senior season in Athens with now-Las Vegas Raider Zamir White, Cook had a breakout year in 2021, rushing for 728 yards and catching 27 balls for 284 yards. He also had 11 total touchdowns.
The 5-foot-11, 199-pound running back ran a respectable 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine and showed good athleticism. Also, as the brother of Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, James had a solid NFL pedigree.
With the Bills, James Cook would be a perfect complement to Singletary and Moss. Many evaluators believed he could even play alongside them and line up at wide receiver to give offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey even more creative play-calling options.
However, James Cook’s 2022 season got off to the worst possible start. In the Bills’ 2022 opener against the Los Angeles Rams, the ball carrier fumbled his first career carry for a turnover. He didn’t get another run or target the rest of the game and played only three offensive snaps.
Two turnovers in the first half for the @RamsNFL defending! #RamsHouse #Home2022
?: #BUFvsLAR on NBC
?: Broadcast on NFL+ https://t.co/LlxLdqcZb3 pic.twitter.com/eQ7w67EtNz
— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2022
In the team’s Week 2 blowout against the Tennessee Titans, Cook did more work. He finished the game with 11 carries for 53 yards. Then in Week 3, Cook went back to one carry for just three yards. However, he had four catches on five targets for 37 yards.
Finally, in Week 4, during a rainy game in Baltimore, Cook returned to his bench seat, played only two offensive snaps and had one (missed) goal.
Unfortunately for Cook, when a title contender drafts a player, there isn’t much room to learn as you go. If Cook went to Detroit or Chicago, he probably could have turned the ball over and gone back to the next series to shake it off and rebuild his confidence. On the 2022 Bills roster, that’s not the case.
The Bills are already in the heat of the title hunt, and McDermott and company don’t have time to hold down a player who can fumble or drop the ball in a big spot. That’s why Cook, sadly, isn’t getting any real chances this season.
Singletary and Moss aren’t the best running back tandem in the NFL, but they’re solid and reliable. With Josh Allen at center, that’s what the Bills need more than anything right now.
The good news for James Cook, the Bills and their fans is that it’s only Week 5 of an 18-week season with playoff games likely after that. Cook may not be able to solve his NFL problems on the field, but he has more than three months to work hard and improve on the practice field to win back the confidence of McDermott, Dorsey and Allen.