LeSean McCoy could very well be the best running back in football. And when Andy Reid realizes this, it makes the Eagles very tough to stop on offense. The Eagles actually ran the ball on Sunday against the Jets, and the result was a 45-19 shellacking that, by the start of the fourth quarter, felt more like a mid-August preseason game than a must win Week 15 affair.
McCoy was absolutely stellar, finishing the day with 102 yards and 3 touchdowns on 18 carries. In the process, he broke Steve Van Buren’s long standing team record for touchdowns in a season, and continued to cement himself as one of the best runners in the entire league. When the Eagles coaching staff attempts to establish the run, it opens up the passing game.
“I guess it just tells you that I am a pretty good back who has an outstanding offensive line. Those guys showed a lot of effort and made a lot of great blocks. It’s definitely a team thing”, McCoy responded when asked about breaking the touchdown scoring record. “No back is going to score a lot of touchdowns unless his line is blocking and his teammates are blocking downfield.”
Michael Vick took advantage of this and easily had his best effort since the Dallas game back in October. He looked a lot sharper than he did last week against Miami, needling a couple of very impressive throws including one to tight end Brent Celek for a 26 yard touchdown. Vick also had his first rushing score since last season and got to enjoy the final quarter of the blowout sitting on the bench in what will go down as the only time Eagles fans were happy to see Vince Young enter a game.
From the beginning of this contest things felt like they were going to be different. For the first time all season the Eagles handed the ball off on their first offensive play. And even though the result was only a one yard gain by McCoy, it showed that Andy and company were at least going to try to run the ball. The Eagles finished the game with 33 rushes opposed to 22 passes. Yes, that last sentence is true. It was the second straight week the Eagles ran the ball more than they passed, and the first time since the Dallas game that they ran it at least ten times more than they threw.
What’s the common denominator in all three of those games? The Eagles ended up winning. Hopefully, Andy and Marty are finally realizing that running the ball consistently puts this offense in a better position to win. With an all world rusher in the backfield, and an offensive line that has played terrific the last several weeks, it makes more sense to keep the ball on the ground. History tells us that eventually this coaching staff will go back to predominantly throwing the ball. They love the quick strike score, even though it’s obvious this team thrives when they grind it out and sustain drives.
Next week will be phase two of Mission Impossible: Win the NFC East, and the Eagles will be playing a Dallas team that they dominated on the ground the last time the two teams squared off. In that meeting, McCoy ran the ball a whopping 30 times for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Vick added 50 yards himself, and the Eagles cruised to a 34-7 rout that, at the time, had everyone thinking the Birds were ready to turn the corner and start a winning streak. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way and now the Eagles are in miracle mode.
They need to win the final two games and need a whole bunch of other stuff to happen too. But all they should really focus on right now is Dallas. Forget all the other stuff that has to fall their way. Go down to Texas next week and establish the ground game early. Set the tone with McCoy and take it from there. If Andy Reid calls that game the way he called this one, the Eagles will still be alive come Christmas morning. If he goes back to the throw first, ask questions later mentality, things could end badly. Let’s hope he continues to build on today’s solid effort. Stranger things have happened.