All-22: McCoy Carrying the Load

mccoy3b_400The giddiness in the Eagles’ locker room Tuesday after practice was at an all-time high.

Training camp in July led into the preseason and then 11 straight weeks of practice, game-planning and top-level competition. Chip Kelly’s guys were clearly ready to leave the NovaCare Complex behind for six days and get some free time before they reconvene in preparation for the final five games.

Perhaps no one was more excited to get a break than LeSean McCoy. And for good reason. The Eagles’ running back leads the NFL in carries (213), rushing yards (1,009) and total yards from scrimmage (1,408). Among tailbacks, only Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles has played more snaps, per Pro Football Focus.


While the numbers for McCoy are impressive, this has been a challenging year. He had a four-game stretch where he averaged only 3.4 YPC. Kelly challenged him to dance less and hit the hole more. At times, he was not on the same page as the offensive linemen.

But last week against the Redskins, McCoy was not only the best player on the Eagles’ offense, but his effort in doing the little things jumped off the tape.

The final numbers show McCoy carried 20 times for 77 yards. On the surface, that’s 3.9 YPC, nothing to write home about. But what those numbers don’t show is that on 12 of his 20 carries, McCoy had to break or avoid a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage. He still picked up 47 yards on those plays.

Additionally, he’s made great strides as a receiver and a blocker.

***

On the first play here, we were lucky enough to once again get Kelly’s [faux] commentary. Here’s the pre-snap look.

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"And they said I couldn’t run the zone read with St. Nick back there. Ha! Like I’m afraid of Reed Doughty making a play on Shady in the backfield…"

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"Yo, Celek! I’ve been telling anyone who will listen all year that you’re the best tight end this franchise has seen since Jeff Thomason, and now you do me like this and let Orakpo blow up my favorite run play? Don’t make me put Casey in there! Only kidding… we all know that ain’t happening!"

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"There you go, Shady. Forget what I said about line get us 2, back get us 2. You get it all! You’re not gonna let Doughty take you down, are you?"

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"I didn't think so! A 4-yard gain… just as I drew it up. Wait a minute… is Folesey really trying to throw a block? What the &^%* are you doing? That’s it! You’re not spending any more time with Vick this week! Now line up and move! We gotta go here! C'mon ref!"

***

On a serious note, I wonder if we’ll see Kelly make some adjustments to the run game during the bye week. That may seem silly to think about, given that it’s the top-performing unit in the league, but McCoy has been stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage 24 times this year, per STATS, Inc. That’s second-most in the league behind only Marshawn Lynch. The number could be a lot higher too if he weren’t so elusive.

Against Washington, he was stuffed five times. McCoy is still averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry, but it’s no secret that Kelly wants to maximize the explosiveness of the run game. Given that the bye week is all about self-scouting, we could see some tweaks in the next couple games to make McCoy’s job a little easier.

***

As we know, playing tailback is about more than just running the ball. On the Eagles’ first drive, they faked the handoff to McCoy and then went deep to Riley Cooper.

But Nick Foles would not have had a clean pocket if McCoy hadn't executed his blocking assignment perfectly.

After the fake, McCoy is going to be responsible for Doughty, who is playing up in the box.

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He stones him in the hole.

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And most importantly, makes sure he finishes, helping to give Foles a clean pocket with which to throw the ball.

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***

I mentioned effort earlier as well. That’s something that probably doesn’t get talked about enough with McCoy.

On this second-quarter play, he’s running his route down the right sideline, but the pass goes to DeSean Jackson on a shallow crosser. mccoy3a_all22_112013

McCoy sees that, and instead of just continuing downfield, comes back to make a block, picking off DeAngelo Hall.

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It's a good sign when teammates know the most talented players are doing everything in their power to help the offense be successful.

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***

We already wrote about McCoy as a receiver earlier this week, but I hadn’t realized just how explosive he’s been until I looked up the numbers.

He’s caught 34 balls for 399 yards on the season. What’s most impressive is that McCoy is averaging 11.74 yards per reception. The last running back who caught 30 balls and averaged a higher number for an entire season was Marshall Faulk. In 1999, he averaged 12.05 yards per catch with the Rams.

Oftentimes, we probably make too big of a deal about which running backs are good receivers. So much of it is scheme and opportunity. McCoy averaged 6.9 yards per catch last year and 6.6 in 2011. But Kelly has done a great job of creating mismatches for him, and McCoy has taken advantage this year.

It’s not all screens either. Part of McCoy’s success has to do with how he’s moved around before the snap. For example, in the third quarter, he started in the backfield, but Foles motioned him out wide.

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The Redskins were in man coverage, but no one motioned with McCoy. That made for an easy decision and an easy throw for Foles.

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I asked Foles this week how much freedom he has to motion guys when he sees potentially advantageous mismatches at the line of scrimmage.

"I have a lot of freedom," he said. "I have freedom any time there is, and if they’re not gonna cover a guy, you want to get that guy the ball no matter what the play is. So where there is a motion or anything and the defense for some reason doesn’t see it, or maybe they’re in between checks, you want to get that guy the ball because that’s a big play waiting to happen."

McCoy picked up a nice 7-yard gain in the red zone on this play.

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  • theycallmerob

    Between the flag-grab and the downfield block on DeAngelo No Balls Hall, McCoy seems rather passionate about the racist name debate re: ‘skins.
    Of course, you always get a +1 for laying a hit on Ol’ No Balls. In my book, that’s good for 1 “get-out-of-party-bus-incident-free” card

    • GEAGLE

      Media Mike approves this message!

  • jabostick

    I love Sheil’s All-22 but sometimes I worry that he’s in a dark room, lit only by a couple of flickering monitors and maniacally talking to a sock puppet with two eyes and a visor Sharpied on to it…

    Meanwhile, Tim is watching old Bill Murray movies in between naps. Real odd couple thing we’ve got here…

    • theycallmerob

      I’m sticking with the dark room thing, but part of the “other duties assigned” for the intern include dressing up as Greg Cosell for film study

    • Richard Colton

      points to Sheil for the “Touchdown” Jeff Thomason shout-out

  • GEAGLE

    Chip is absolutely going to implement some new things in the run game after this bye week.

    Has a bye week ever come at a better time? Although it’s gonna be torture because I’m so jacked up to see this next 5 game stretch.. although I’m worried about our young bucks hitting a rookie wall. hopefully this sports science keeps our kids legs fresh, and keeps us as healthy as possible.

    Shady has pretty much become a top back in every phase of the game. The wheel route Folesy threw him was just a gorgeous play

    • anon

      Yeah it’d be nice if BB got more work as the power back and Shady did more as the Sproles / Gio role. To me he’s never been a power between the tackles runner, he seems too slight – he’s obviously way better in space as a finesse runner. All that said he has to keep getting the hard yads b/c that’s really what the scheme is built off — fakes and misdirection out of the IZR/OZR, but good linebackers are going to eat his lunch.

      • Andy124

        I can see doing that to preserve Shady; But as far as what Shady is good at, he’s generally been really good in short yardage. I’ve seen him smash it up in there and get that 1 yard lots of times when that’s what the situation calls for, and he’s good and finding that soft spot that will let him get just enough.

      • Coatesvillain

        I’d disagree. Shady has always been able to thrive running between the tackles. It just happens that he also has the ability to cut back and make more out of each carry.

        Bryce Brown on the other hand, despite his build, has a skill set that is more finesse. They should give a long and hard look at using Bryce Brown in a similar fashion as the Pats use Shane Vereen and get him the ball in space. That’s what he’s best at.

  • nicksaenz1

    “Don’t make me put Casey in there! Only kidding… we all know that ain’t happening!”
    I mean, why would we play him? We only gave him $4mil this year. Hell, we gave Nnamdi $4mil this year just to GTFOH! $1mil dead money if released in 2014. James, as the saying goes: you don’t have to go home….

    • cliff henny

      yup…a third to byrd

      • nicksaenz1

        Think we give him $9mil/season?

        EDIT: I know that was his number that Buffalo didn’t want to match, but is there any possibility that he was intentionally trying to price them out?

        • cliff henny

          he turned dowm 8m

          • nicksaenz1

            I know that. Was it because he wanted $9mil or because he wanted out of Buffalo any way he possibly could?

          • Adam

            I would say money. I don’t think he doesn’t like being in Buffalo, he just doesn’t like what he’s being paid there.

          • GEAGLE

            Money first and foremost…but I got the impression that he really wants to win….no matter what potential buffalo flashes, it can’t provide much hope when you have to face Brady and Bellicek ATLEAST 6 more times in the next 3 years…

            Some players simply take the most lucrative offer, but I get the impression that if the money is close enough he will take a little less to go to the best team…but with our financial situation being so healthy, and Lurie and Howie never being shy to make a big splash..if they like the Byrd man enough to make him a substantial offer, in the past they landed the big FA by offering them the most money…

            Runyan, Assante, Kearse…these were big money additions. We were able to land them by breaking the bank open, not because we offered them a better chance to win then where they came from

          • cliff henny

            how much of a fall off is clemmons and ward from Byrd? can honestly say i’ve never watch byrd play in Buffalo, just going by hype and 25 and all-pro.

          • nicksaenz1

            Not too much, IMO. Both are good, though, Ward may benefit from having the best corner in the game not needing help. Frees him up more. If I had to pick, I’d pick Clemons, of the two.

          • GEAGLE

            Lol I’m the opposite…seen Byrd play a lot, the other two…not so much

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Guess it just depends on if they want to spend that money on the safety spot. I think they sign one guy to the secondary (CB or S) & look to draft the other. Don’t count out a return from Nate. From the way that he’s been playing of late, they may just want to see if he’s a late bloomer & will definitely come at a cheaper price tag.

          • nicksaenz1

            Hard position for them not to just pay him. Colston’s fallen off a little bit, Lance Moore is a #2 at best, same with Kenny Still. Have to pay Graham if you’re Loomis. He’s going nowhere.

          • anon

            is byrd the consensus best safety in the league?

          • GEAGLE

            No..consensus top 5 for sure…I think he is much better than weddle

          • cliff henny

            probably litle of both. but he’ll probably get 5yrs/45m from someone. geagle probably knows most, think buffalo not only started at 6m, but was lowballing on yrs and guarentee…and now it’s a pissing match

          • nicksaenz1

            Yeah, I just tried to do a quick search on the salary cap and any expected increase and didn’t come up with much. If I remember, I’ll dig later. But I’m thinking he might be able to be had for 5/40 to play with his old college coach, which would be sweet. I’d be fine giving him more money up front to make that happen, too, especially since we have such a nice chunk of carry over.

          • cliff henny

            mean, i’d say yes. find it crazy how they can turn down that money, nfl, just never know. how rolens turned phillies offer of something like 5 yrs 75m…how can you see your name followed by $75,000,000 and say no?!
            .
            idk, these guys only have sucha short window, and so little of overall contract are guarenteed, i cant blame them for going highest bidder.
            .
            increase is expected in ’16. flat till then.

          • GEAGLE

            How much money frees up with Coleman,Nate and Vick coming off the books? Not that it really matters since we could probably sign Byrd just by using the money we carried over lol…

            We are in position to win a division and make it to the playoffs while still being in one of the best financial positions in the league. Impressive Job by Howie.

            Just having playoff hope for a team with 36 players who are 26years old or younger is impressive. Then you see Cox playing like a damn terror 6 months into a new way of playing Dline and you remember his age…..thought of the future put a giant smile on my face..

            Thank you Howie
            Thank you Chip
            Thank you “Cool ass Billy Dee” or Billy “Jethro country bumpkin” Davis or Billy “the young uncle Charlie of defense” Davis lol
            Thank you to the RAINMAKER!! I always knew your Sainthood wouldn’t be in vain!!!,

          • Andy124

            Billy keeps this defense improving, we might have to start calling him William out of respect.

          • GEAGLE

            William…William…it’s distinguished. I like it…can we add a an aristocratic middle name! and a JR, or III at the end?
            William Francis Davis III(the third)!!!

          • Andy124

            Maybe just Sir William.

          • GEAGLE

            PERFECT!!!

          • jshort

            WFD lll ? not bad.

          • southy

            Switch that Francis to something like McKinley or Mitchell and you have WMD. THAT I could get behind!

          • cliff henny

            really, none. eagles are 3m under with the bloated contracts, and whatever they carry over, 19m+. those expire, not taken into consideration. where money can be found
            ryans 7m no dead…extend and lower cap
            peters 10m no dead…really open thing up, but, probably ext
            benn. 1m no dead…gone
            casey 4m 1m dead…gone
            celek 4m no dead…have to say gone too.
            avant 4m 1m dead…sorry, he’s gone
            fletcher 3m no dead…def extending
            jacks 12m 6m dead…def extending
            the chunger 3.5m 1m dead…st’r i guess he stays.
            between all that, have to be able to massage 20m for close to 45m under. thornton needs resigned. cooper too, hopefully. Byrd and then to solid vets to similar barwin and williams deals.

          • Andy124

            Taking a moment to mourn the lost opportunity to see what Benn could do with his fresh start here.

          • anon

            I think Celek is here next year — Casey is not.

          • cliff henny

            that’s fine, major paycut then. really is blocking TE now, those guys dont get paid 4m.

          • anon

            Yeah i think pay cut is more likely, however, if he has more runs like he did the other day.

            That said i see your point there’s a number of decent TEs in this league.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            So with Avant gone, this gives us an opportunity to add a playmaker in the slot. This is a position I’ve wanted to upgrade for some time now. I love Avant’s leadership, but someone that can get some RAC would be a very nice addition. I know they can just throw Ertz over there, but a dedicated WR that can be more of a weapon than a role player would open up more opportunities in the middle.

          • cliff henny

            see how cooper and maclin shake out, think a WR needs to be picked early. avant, celek guess could come back, certainly think both positions need upgrading and adjusting their sals. but both have foottball left in them, might allow them to be starters on another team. but if we want eagles to get couple free agents, need to clear, draft costs 10m and always want some cap space to work with during yr. certainly doesnt need to be 19m, but 5m. so let’s say eagles clear 15m, gets them to 38m under…that’s really only 23m to spend on free agency. that’s not a ton. byrd and cooper would take most of that.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            To be honest, if they did move Ertz out there he’d get more playing time & that’s not a bad thing. Especially if we restructure Celek to being more of a role playing TE. I like what Cooper has shown with Foles but I definitely still want someone with size that can be a threat opposite DJax & push Coop if he does re-sign. I’m guessing Maclin will get more of a “show me” you’re healthy offer, if they decide to tender him one. I’ve always liked Maclin, but have always disliked our lack of size at the 1&2 WR spots. However, with a healthy Maclin, Cooper (granted they do re-sign), DJax, Ertz & Celek. There is a pretty good mix of size & speed.

            I’d love Evans, but I just think we need that OLB on the weak side to really put this defense two steps ahead from where they are now. A CB that can do more than just keep the play in front of him would do wonders as well, but I’m not using my 1st there.

          • GEAGLE

            I heard him talk a few times about wanting to go to a winner. He flat out wants no part of small market buffalo and I don’t think they can get him to sign a contract unless they significantly overpay for him, which just isn’t going to happen..

            If Chip Kelly leads us to the playoffs in his is first year ever being in the NFL after the mess he inherited, free agents will be fighting each other to come here lol
            ..
            Chip Kelly having success in this Rabid market, is the polar opposite of buffalo which should be exactly what he is looking for. If Chip and Nick take us to the playoffs with such a young and new team, FOles and his young teamates will only be better next year which would put us in ALL IN,WIN NOW mode, and if we are ready to make some noise, it makes a lot of sense to invest in a young veteran playmaker like Byrd man who can step right in and join a veteran secondary, while really giving Wolff a player to emulate..Kendricks has Meco, get the Wolff a BYRD

    • GEAGLE

      Im really not sure we are getting rid of Casey or Chung

  • reb

    Love the commentary. Not convinced it’s “faux” because it seems pretty accurate to me! Great job there Sheil “Dark Room” Kapadia.

  • Adam

    Schefty just posted this on Twitter. What do you think? Estranged father?

  • cliff henny

    best part of shady, 25! another 3-4 yrs atleast of this.

    • GEAGLE

      Cox is 22! Hahahaha
      ..
      Roster of 36 players 26years or younger and we talking about winning a division…”GOOD TIMES!!! Scratching and surviving..GOOD TIMES!”

  • KobraKai7474

    The reason the zone read plays run by Vick were so troubling was because they exposed Vick to so many hits and, as we all know, Vick (and to a lesser extent ALL NFL quarterbacks) does not stand up to too many hits so well. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that his hamstring injury happened on a play that wasn’t a zone read play. The fact remains that the guy was never going to stay upright for the whole year running zone read plays. The version of the zone read now run by Foles, seems to transfer all those hits to McCoy. When the defensive end crashes and Foles keeps the ball (either to throw a screen or to run it for an easy 6 yards), McCoy gets a helmet in his sternum as a reward. 20 carries a game isn’t necessarily a big deal, but 20 carries plus another 10 or 15 plays where he gets hit hard by an unblocked 300+ pound defensive end…. well, that IS a big deal.

    • Myke Lowery

      is Kobra Kai actually wishing the defense show some “mercy” on Shady? Your Sensei would be very disappointed in you.

      • GEAGLE

        Sweep the leg

  • John J. King

    Brilliant analysis, again. Thanks

  • Andy124

    Wait a minute… is Folesey really trying to throw a block? What the &^%* are you doing? That’s it! You’re not spending any more time with Vick this week!

    LOL

  • Blocking Back

    I don’t X & O, but off that top All-22, even I can see “Zone Read Flea Flicka.” Wouldn’t work with a qb respected for running. Foles cashes a long pass, probable TD. McCoy makes it work, again for no statistical credit.

  • Eric

    Nice Jeff Thomason reference