LeSean McCoy Must Continue To Be Featured In The Eagles’ OffenseBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Monday, October 8th, 2012
On Sunday the Eagles once again pulled off an unlikely comeback led by a fourth quarter drive that ate up over eight minutes of the clock. Unfortunately, this attempt ultimately fell short when the Steelers drove into range for a 34-yard field goal as time ran out and a two point victory on a final drive of their own.
Pieces of Sunday’s game looked great while other pieces looked dreadful. The Eagles were both Jekyll and Hyde against the Steelers. One of the players that did everything that they had to do for the Eagles to win was LeSean McCoy. He didn’t light up the stat sheet but the few times he was called upon in key situations, he delivered.
McCoy rushed for only 53 yards on 16 carries, a 3.3 yard per carry average, more than a full yard less than his season average. He added 27 yards on four receptions including a 15 yard catch and run, the Eagles first score of the day. Larry Foote was pursuing McCoy to the outside when McCoy stopped, and as his Twitter name says, cut on a dime up field. Foote got turned around and had no chance as he watched McCoy scamper through two more defenders to paydirt.
McCoy’s brightest moments came on the go-ahead drive that included 17 plays including two fourth-and-inches conversions, both converted by Shady. The first came on the Eagles own 31 yard line. Reid seemed to have his mind made up and the offense wasted no time on choosing to go for it. A challenge by Reid on the spot of the ball made the fourth down more achievable and gave time to call the perfect play. A quarterback sneak or draw has worked in the past but this time Shady got the handoff. The offensive line got beat off the ball but a second, and third, effort by McCoy moved the chains and kept the drive alive.
The next came around midfield. The Eagles just as quickly set up to run a play even though this was a bit longer than the previous fourth down. Again, the call was to McCoy, and again, he delivered in the form of a fresh set of downs and a keep-the-drive-alive first down. While he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on the final drive (his average for the game, too) there is no doubting that he was of vital importance in putting his team ahead.
It is great to see that the coaches don’t shy away from giving their best player the ball even when time is dwindling in the fourth quarter. Six carries on the final drive brought Shady’s total carries on the day to 16, a number that still is inexcusable. There is no doubt that, in an offense with Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and Brent Celek, McCoy is still the number one weapon. His 20 touchdowns a season ago plainly prove that point. It is essential to feed him the ball if you want to leave Heinz Field, or any field, with a victory. Yes, the Eagles were down ten points at the half but that is not insurmountable and, as Brian Dawkins tweeted at halftime, “What ever u do here. Don’t abandon Shady.” And he was right.
A stat that explains the importance of his carries is the Eagles overall record, since 2009, when McCoy receives at least 20 carries: 10-1. Ten wins and only a single loss when the offense’s most dangerous weapon is fed the ball. The Eagles were behind for much of the game, 28:34 to be exact, but a ten point deficit doesn’t eliminate the run when there is still a half to play.
The turnovers in the game are what many are chalking up to be the sole reason for the Eagles losing on Sunday. A first quarter, first and goal fumble while on the Steelers three yard line that resulted in a touchback for the Steelers could have easily been seven points, a minimum three, both which would have beat the final difference in the game.
While it is hard to argue that his presence would have made a difference, the Eagles turnover in the end zone came when McCoy was not on the field. Late in the first quarter, Vick fumbled again, and again, McCoy was not on the field. Would the ball have bounced differently had he been in the lineup? No. Would he have been able to recover the fumbles? Maybe not. But the fact that he was taken off the field gives the defense one or two defenders more to key on Michael Vick, to crowd the line, or to double team a receiver. With the exception of last week’s Giants game, which could just as easily be blamed on the offensive line, McCoy is historically efficient inside the ten yard line. Twenty two of his 35 career touchdowns have come while ten or fewer yards from the end zone. That fact alone should be enough to keep the offense’s best weapon on the field while that deep in enemy territory.
There are many things that could be blamed for the Eagles loss. Vick’s fumbles, the defense’s lackluster performance on the Steelers final drive, or a question in play-calling that most fans seem to immediately conclude. Nobody, though, is making a case that McCoy is the reason for the Eagles loss. He did what he had to do for the Eagles to walk away from Heinz Field with a 4-1 record. Unfortunately, the Eagles came out with a 3-2 record after a hard-fought game and a game-winning field goal.
Next week the Eagles host the Lions, a team who has allowed nearly 103 rushing yards per game. If the Eagles decide to feed McCoy the ball, chances are, 10-to-1 the Eagles will improve their record to 4-2. As proven before, though, that is a big “IF”.
Follow Brenden on Twitter @brendenp2011 to hear his opinion on the Eagles games and other NFL news.
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