Eagles Wake-Up Call: Comparing McCoy And Rice

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.Sunday’s game between the Eagles and Ravens will feature two of the top running backs in the game: LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice.

Both are in their primes, and both got paid this offseason. McCoy got a six-year, $46.5M deal, with $20.8M guaranteed. Rice got a five-year deal worth $35M, including $24M guaranteed.

So how do they stack up? Here’s a look at the 2011 production:

 
Carries
Yards
YPC
YPG
TDs
20+ Runs
LeSean McCoy2731,3094.887.31714
Ray Rice2911,3644.785.3129

As you can see, very similar numbers. Yards-per-carry and yards-per-game were almost identical. Rice had his share of long runs, but McCoy was more of a home-run hitter, averaging a run of 20+ yards every 19.5 carries. Rice averaged one every 32.3 carries. And McCoy got into the end zone five more times.

Neither guy fumbles much. In his career, Rice has averaged one fumble every 161.5 carries. McCoy one every 109.2 carries.

But there’s more to playing the position than running the football, especially with these two. According to Pro Football Focus, McCoy and Rice ranked one and two, respectively, in terms of playing time (number of snaps) last year. McCoy played 86.1 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps. Rice played 76.5 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps.

As a receiver, Rice has a pretty clear edge. In 2011, he had 76 catches for 704 yards. That’s 9.3 yards per reception, an impressive number for a running back.

McCoy had 48 catches for 315 yards, but he averaged just 6.6 yards per reception, a number the Eagles would like to see get a bump in 2012. And while I’ll admit not having studied Rice in blitz pickup, it seems like they’re similar in that area.

I’d say McCoy, who is 18 months younger, is more of a game-changer, but Rice is the better receiver. It’s a really close comparison. If you polled the 32 GMs to find out which guy they’d rather have, the guess here is that they’d probably be divided.

If you have a strong opinion one way or another, chime in below.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Excellent piece by T-Mac on how the new pre-snap arrangement between Jason Kelce and Michael Vick hit a snag in the opener.

I took a look at the All-22 film and provided observations (and pictures!) for the Eagles’ offense and the defense.

The Eagles were already thin at wide receiver, and now, DeSean Jackson missed practice with a hamstring injury.

Tim’s weekly mailbag discusses Marty Mornhinweg’s play-calling, Juan Castillo and more.

And finally, the first of a two-part cheat sheet previewing Sunday’s game. Ten things you should know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Ravens’ offense.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Should have mentioned this earlier in the week, but some interesting comments from Browns defenders after last week’s game. First, Craig Robertson on the need for the linebackers to get deep in their drops:

“Watching films. You know they run a lot of deep stuff. Dropping shallow isn’t going to help, you know you’ve got to get a little deeper. You get a little deeper and read the quarterback.”

Defenses know the Eagles as a big-play offense. It’s easier said than done, but the goal is to keep DeSean Jackson and company from hitting on big plays. Make Vick and the offense be methodical and move the ball efficiently down the field. That’s not the Eagles’ strength.

And from linebacker D’Qwell Jackson on whether he was surprised the Eagles didn’t rely on the run game more:

“That’s not their identity. They’re a team that likes to pass the ball and occasional screens and draws, but that’s not who they are. We knew that coming into it.”

Jackson is right, but think about that. He’s basically saying the Browns weren’t overly concerned with the Eagles’ running game even though they have one of the best backs in the league.

Meanwhile, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees was not pleased with his unit’s run defense against Cincinnati. Per CSNBaltimore.com:

“I was not particularly pleased (with) the way we played the first half, especially against the run,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Thursday. “We just didn’t play with good leverage, got kind of out of our gap. … We got out of position sometimes and had some plays break out on us, and we can’t have that.”

COMING UP

The Eagles have a closed practice, but we’ll hear from Andy Reid about the latest injuries as the team gets ready for Sunday’s matchup.