CINCINNATI, Ohio -- This was not how this season was meant to start for LeSean McCoy.
In the prime of his career and chasing both a Super Bowl ring and a Hall of Fame legacy, McCoy was supposed to be a vital cog in the Buffalo Bills' offense. On a team with question marks on its roster, the running back was one of the few sure bets.
Not so fast. Through five games this season, McCoy has 279 rushing yards on 87 carries. His average of 3.2 yards per carry is the worst of his nine-year career by almost a full yard. He has not scored a rushing or receiving touchdown through five games for the first time since entering the NFL in 2009.
"It's tough," McCoy said after Sunday's 20-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. "No one judges a game like myself, so I'm angry about it."
McCoy began the season by gliding to 110 yards on 22 carries in a win over the New York Jets. Since then, he has rushed for a total of 169 yards in four games. It is McCoy's first stretch of four consecutive healthy games with fewer than 100 rushing yards since the end of the 2014 season.
What is happening? McCoy clearly has been the focus of opposing defenses' game plans. Buffalo entered Week 5 tied for the most plays per game (11.75) against eight-man defensive boxes.
Defenses have had little to worry about in the deep passing game after the Bills traded Sammy Watkins in August. In Sunday's game against Cincinnati, the Bills were down to perhaps the NFL's worst group of pass-catchers after injuries to top receiver Jordan Matthews (thumb) and top tight end Charles Clay (knee).
"If we were such a sucky run team, other teams would just let us run the ball," McCoy said Sunday. "[Defenses] put more emphasis and attention on us [running backs]. It's hard to balance, but it is what it is."
While McCoy consistently has been bottled up in the running game, he has produced more as a receiver than in past years. His 27 receptions for 189 yards are his most through Week 5 since 2010, when he had 28 catches for 218 yards.
However, McCoy is getting targeted in the passing game because quarterback Tyrod Taylor has limited options at wide receiver. Bills wideouts have an NFL-low 24 receptions, the fewest through Week 5 for any team since the 2009 Oakland Raiders, whose wide receivers had 17 catches.
"It's true of any offense. If you become one-dimensional, that's not good," coach Sean McDermott said. "We've got to make sure we can run the football, and run our style of offense. There have been times that we've done it, and there have been times we haven't. We've got to continue to grow and get better there."
Even with the Bills' offensive shortcomings this season, they enter their bye week with a 3-2 record and a share of first place in the AFC East. That has put the Bills in a "good situation," McCoy said Sunday.
While it has been a frustrating season for McCoy in terms of his personal statistics, McDermott has spoken with him about emphasizing a team-based mentality.
"I'm a competitor and a fighter, and I want to win," McCoy said. "I want to put the numbers up, I really do."