When the Eagles don’t run the ball effectively, LeSean McCoy shoulders the blame.
Even if there are other factors – the blocking, the defensive scheme, etc. – McCoy takes it personally when the offense can’t get the ground game going. It’s something his teammates appreciate about him.
So on a day when the Eagles were hosting a division rival for first place and with his quarterback Nick Foles struggling all game long, McCoy knew 55 yards on 18 carries was not good enough.
“I just wasn’t myself,” he said. “I felt like with a game like this where my team needed me and depended on me, I didn’t show up. I started doing just too many individual type of plays, not really going with the plays and just doing my own thing.
“Just was a little frustrated. I wasn’t really making the plays that I usually make. And they were stopping us. We were going three-and-out. And things weren’t going our way. I just tried to make too many things happen. Certain plays, from running the ball to screens, different things like that. I felt that was probably my worst performance since my rookie year. But I’ll bounce back this week for sure. Just gotta trust in the scheme. If things are not working out, eventually they’ll break.”
McCoy had six catches for 26 yards, but he could have had a lot more. Yesterday, we showed how Nick Foles missed him on a wheel route. And on a screen in the first quarter, the Eagles had a chance for another big play. Here’s the setup when McCoy first catches the ball.
You can see he’s got Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans out in front. Evan Mathis is set up to take care of the backside defender. McCoy can either try to get to the sideline or cut it up between the two defenders.
Take a look at the play design. The Cowboys are in man coverage. Three defenders are on the other side of the field. Another is chasing DeSean Jackson on a crossing route. And they’ve got one high safety.
There’s nothing but open field from the hash marks to the right sideline. But McCoy doesn’t follow his blocks and instead reverses field. Look at where he ends up.
Instead of a big gain, the result is a 7-yard loss, which set up a 3rd-and-18.
The mistakes in the run game are more difficult to diagnose. But on this second-quarter play, it looked like McCoy left yards on the field. Kelce is pulling, and Herremans seals a defender to the inside, creating a nice alley for McCoy.
But instead of continuing to go straight ahead, McCoy jump-cuts to his left, straight into defenders.
The result is a 1-yard run.
To be fair, McCoy is making split-second decisions. It’s a lot easier to show where he could have gone when freeze-framing the tape days later. He’s made big plays out of nothing his whole career and picks up big chunks of yardage even when he’s not following where the play is originally intended to go.
You can see why he was hard on himself after last week’s game. But the truth is, the struggles in the run game were a combination of several different factors.
“It was a lot of different things,” Mathis said. “On any given play, one little thing going wrong. But everything that happened is definitely correctable. By no means was any of it an effort issue, none of it was a talent issue. Sometimes we took the wrong angles. Sometimes we blocked the scheme wrong. And sometimes they had some good stunts called.”
Added Kelce: “I felt like in the running game, we were just unlucky in a lot of situations. It’s kind of hard to say that there’s good stuff on tape when you only put up three points, but there was. There was a lot of good stuff. We had a lot of movement in some situations. It’s just one block here, one block there, one guy ‘unhatted’ here, one guy coming down that we don’t see late there. Like I said, I think it was just a culmination of a lot of things that failed the running game.”
McCoy can make up for missed blocks with his elusiveness on most weeks. But the Cowboys did a great job of bringing him down in one-on-one situations. The two defenders Eagles players specifically identified were linebacker Sean Lee and safety Barry Church. Dallas made adjustments also to make life difficult for Eagles offensive linemen.
Regardless, McCoy still placed the blame on his shoulders, something that will earn him good will with his teammates.
“He was frustrated,” Kelce said. “And whenever he doesn’t have a good game, it’s always a little bit different than a lot of backs. I think a lot of backs, when they struggle, they blame the offensive line, whereas a lot of that, he puts on his shoulders. …He always puts as much on his back as he can in terms of his output.
“Did he play his best game? No. But I think that a lot of it was other things as well.”
Added Mathis: “He was definitely critical of himself. I think all of us should be critical of ourselves. There’s always corrections to be made, and you should always be your toughest critic as a player, take responsibility for anything you did wrong and just be accountable and correct those things. And it’s good to see that instead of… some guys would make excuses if things aren’t going well. But it’s good to have players that take accountability with each other. And I think we have a lot of that in this locker room, of guys that own up to their mistakes.”