The question came from about 20 feet away, a parting whaddyathink after a 15-minute conversation with Duce Staley about star running back LeSean McCoy.
So who’s better: B-West or Shady?
Staley turned and started walking back to a pair of reporters. “Right now? McCoy,” he said.
“Right now if I had to go back and get Brian Westbrook at the peak of his career and get LeSean McCoy at the peak of his career…if you were playing fantasy football, who would you pick?”
Sure, Staley has invested a lot of time and energy into McCoy, serving as his coach and mentor. But he was also teammates with Westbrook, and saw his impact on the game first-hand.
“When I look at [McCoy] and then look back at my career, I’m like, ‘Whoa, I wish I could have done that,’ ” said Staley. “Brian had similar moves, but not as quick and not as sudden. McCoy is able to make a move that is followed up by another move that is followed up by another move.
“His ability to make people miss in small areas is the best in the league. McCoy is a guy — and I tell him this all the time — who can make you miss in a phone booth. You look at explosion, you look at how quick he is from when he touches a ball in a five-yard space, there is no one better than him doing that.”
Birds 24/7 caught up with Westbrook later that afternoon, and asked if he ever compares himself and McCoy side-by-side.
“Nah,” he said. “When I look at LeSean I have no doubt that he is a special, special player. Some of the things he is able to do on the football field instinctively is just special. He is able to make people miss — I’m talking about two, three guys in the backfield — and it appears sometimes that he doesn’t even see them. I’m amazed how he even sees some of the guys that he’s making miss.
“The things that they ask him to do are a little bit different than what Andy Reid asked me to do…Andy asked me to do a lot more [in the passing game] than they ask LeSean to do. He continues to develop into a pretty good blocker, and that’s something he has worked on over the years. But as far as a running back, I see the talent and I appreciate the talent he has. He is a special runner.”
Statistically, McCoy posted 3,389 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground through his first four seasons compared to 2,235 yards and 13 TDs for Westbrook. In the passing game, Westbrook racked up over 1,700 receiving yards and 14 scores, while McCoy had just under 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns.
Westbrook and McCoy have long enjoyed a student-teacher relationship. One way in which their careers are mirroring one another is the way they both broke out in Year 5. Westbrook had close to 2,000 all-purpose yards and 11 scores in his fifth season. McCoy, meanwhile, has had a monster start to his 2013 campaign, posting 871 total yards through six games.
McCoy has Staley’s backing and may be on track for a better overall career. But the level of respect for the teacher is still there.
“If I want to be even close to Brian,” said McCoy, “there’s stuff I still have to learn how to do.”