LeSean McCoy seemed generally surprised by learning that the Buffalo Bills have the exact same record through six games as they did a year ago.
"We were 4-2 last year?" McCoy asked, repeating the start of a question to him Wednesday. "I didn't know. Wow."
After a pair of losses to start last season, the Bills ran off four straight wins, but it's easy to see why McCoy was forgetful of that. Those wins came against Arizona (7-8-1 last season), a New England team starting a rookie third-string quarterback, the L.A. Rams (4-12) and the San Francisco 49ers (2-14). So it's not a surprise that this year's 4-2 starts feels different to McCoy.
"We're winning games, but we're not playing our best ball," he said. "That's major. If we were playing our best ball, we might be winning games by bigger margins. So it feels a lot different than last year."
McCoy said that "different" feeling compared to a year ago emanates from two places. No. 1 is coach Sean McDermott.
"He's solid. He's honest. What you see is what you get," McCoy said. "He preaches and coaches the team thing. Everything we do here is team-based. Off the field, too. He approaches it that way, knowing your teammates."
No. 2 is the doubt those outside the team expressed about the Bills' chances this year.
"We feel it, we hear it. That makes us more together, I think," he said. "I guess because of the moves maybe, like, 'Oh, they're trying to tank and get more picks.' I mean, it's how you look at it. As players, you know, we come here every day for hours trying to win. Hearing the 'tanking' word, it can rub you the wrong way if you let it, because you know how much hard work you put into it, training, offseason working out. During the season, the hits, all the maintenance you do on your body.
"So the tanking word, you can take it a negative way. Players like us, we just want to win. We do a lot to be here. We've got families to take care of, so we put a lot of hard work and effort into this game."
The Bills were unable to get to 5-2 last season, blowing a double-digit lead to the Miami Dolphins in the second half – a pivotal turning point in what crumbled to a 7-9 finish. If this year is truly going to be different, a win Sunday over the Oakland Raiders would go a long way toward proving that. The Bills also blew a double-digit, second-half lead at Oakland last December.
"We had 'em," McCoy said. "But that's last year. They're a whole different team, I think, than last year. Still talented, still good. But I think we're a different team, too, you know, so I think it will be a good game."