Even Without Offensive Line, LeSean McCoy Continues To ProduceBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Monday, November 12th, 2012
Sunday evening may have proven to be the beginning of a new era in Philadelphia Eagles football. Michael Vick suffered a concussion at the Linc midway through the second quarter and rookie Nick Foles, a name that has become common in Philadelphia in the midst of speculation, came in to play. When Foles entered the game, the Eagles were tied 7-7 against their divisional opponent Dallas Cowboys. The night ended with a 38-23 loss of the game and most likely the season.
In the backfield, LeSean McCoy was averaging 4.3 yards per touch before Vick went down. That number could have been greatly increased had Vick delivered a catchable ball to a wide open McCoy on the 3rd and 2 play he was injured on. McCoy had nothing but green grass in front of him but with pressure in his face, Vick’s throw sailed high.
When Foles entered the game, the Eagles were still very much in the game and were, under no circumstances, forced to throw the ball. Yet they remained extremely pass heavy for the remainder of the game with 32 called passes for Foles and just ten McCoy runs. While that number may be offset by the late passing game with the Eagles down seven or 14, a more than 3:1 pass to run ratio is unacceptable. With McCoy at running back, fresh off a 119 yard performance, that ratio is unacceptable in a normal situation. With the NFL’s tenth leading rusher behind a rookie quarterback who had never played with the first team offense; it simply leaves you scratching your head.
Taking nothing away from Foles, who played well in his two and a half quarters of play, the playcalling for this team is atrocious. The Eagles faced ten third downs on Sunday and converted just one. On at least four of those third down plays, by my count, McCoy was not on the field and instead Bryce Brown was in or the offense had an empty set. The former Pitt Panther only touched the ball twice on 3rd downs. One of those plays was an attempt to kill the clock at the end of the first half and the other was a screen pass that had insufficient lead blocking to expect a conversion.
Play after play and week after week McCoy is, more and more, looking like he is playing by himself. He receives a hand off and is immediately under attack having to shake one or two defenders just to get back to the line of scrimmage. The Eagles try to get him outside and receivers are refusing to get physical with defensive backs and McCoy can’t find an edge. The offensive line has suffered great adversity and Evan Mathis is currently the only lineman who was in the projected lineup to begin the season. Even still, McCoy is putting up respectable stats and doing what he has to, in his limited opportunities, to give this team a win.
Shady finished the day with 16 carries for 82 yards and four catches for 20 yards. This game continues the Eagles pattern of losing when number 25 carries the ball fewer than 20 times and winning when he carries it more than 20 times, a pattern that matches perfectly with the Eagles 3-6 record. Players like Arian Foster (24.6), Adrian Peterson (19.5), and Marshawn Lynch (21.2) are all carrying the ball more times per game than McCoy who is only averaging 18 carries per game. McCoy has already proved that he is in the same class with these superstar backs. If he were given the ball the same amount as all these backs, he would easily be in the top five, maybe leading the league in rushing and could be helping his team to a better record. Clearly the lack of running isn’t the only problem with this team and there are countless areas for greater concern, but taking the ball out of the hands of a back who is arguably the best in the league doesn’t help matters.
At this point, the season is just about over. Not only is 10-6 a stretch to win a playoff spot in this year’s NFC, thinking that this team can go 7-0 to finish the season is just unintelligible. At this point in the season, we are looking to see what parts will be coming back next year and maybe putting together some nice statistical seasons and seeing if we can get any of our players a trip to Hawaii. McCoy was the only bright spot through 12 games in 2011 before the Eagles finished with four straight wins. Again, he is looking like one of few positive aspects of this 2012 Eagles team.
One last note on the coaching front: when Jon Gruden was last in Philadelphia as offensive coordinator in 1995-1997, the Eagles were run heavy and Ricky Watters ran for 3,794 yards and 31 touchdowns in a three season stretch. The Eagles missed the playoffs once in those three years.
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