There is only one team in the NFL that’s allowing more than 5.0 yards per carry to its opponents: the Chicago Bears.
And there’s only one team averaging at least 5.0 yards per carry: the Philadelphia Eagles.
So it should come as no surprise that when LeSean McCoy looks at Sunday’s matchup, he thinks he can be the difference-maker between a win and a loss.
“I feel like this game I’ve gotta put the offense on my back,” McCoy said. “I want to roll. I want to get going. I think me and the guys up front, we’ve gotta set the tone. I think once we do that, we can worry about the other team. But I feel like right now, the big guys up front and myself, we need to put this game on our back and take care of business and get a win.”
McCoy is coming off a game in which he only ran the ball eight times for 38 yards. Chip Kelly mentioned earlier this week that the Vikings were playing with a numbers advantage in the box, but as McCoy pointed out, opposing defenses have been doing that all year.
The running back admitted he was surprised with the lack of carries, but said he never approached Kelly to ask for more opportunities during the game.
“The good thing about Chip that I actually love is he’s so competitive where if I say something to him he won’t take it in a negative way,” McCoy said. “He’s always positive and he understands I want the ball or whatever player it is. So he doesn’t take it in the wrong way.
“He’s an offensive genius. I don’t have to tell him I need the ball or I want the ball. He knows what plays we need to run, the right time to call the plays. I don’t know that stuff. If you ask me, yes, I want the ball every play. So he knows exactly when to run it, when to throw it, when to get his playmakers the ball.”
The previous week against the Lions, McCoy started off slow but then exploded in the fourth quarter. On the season, he’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry in the second half, tops among running backs according to STATS, Inc.
“It’s definitely a rhythm thing,” McCoy explained. “Just touching the ball so much. You might run a play two to three to four times so you get the rhythm of how they play it. The first time they might get you, stop you. And then you run it the second and third time you kind of feel the weakness, where I can go – to the right side, is it working on the left side, just the small things. And you keep pounding it and pounding it.
“Maybe a guy one-on-one he might tackle me, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking: ‘Well OK, the next time or the next time I know he can’t tackle me.’ So it’s just a matter of pushing along and keep going and also just imposing your will on them for the first quarter, second quarter to the fourth quarter. It’s like once you’ve got that rhythm, you’re confident. You know guys up front are making room and holes. It’s easier to run.”
The Bears come in having allowed 152.4 yards per game on the ground. That’s dead last in the league. According to Football Outsiders’ metrics, Chicago is 31st against the run.
With 1,343 yards, McCoy is still the NFL’s leading rusher. With the stakes potentially high (the Eagles can clinch the division if the Cowboys lose earlier in the day), he wants the ball in his hands.
“It’s a big game. I feel like the matchup is there,” McCoy said. “I feel like our offensive linemen against their defensive fronts and the one-on-one matchups with our backs and their guys, their linebackers and safeties, I feel like we [can] win that matchup.
“And it’s just determination like we put ourselves in the hole by losing last week, where this week we come out and we have to win. Every game is a must-win. So that’s my attitude and my approach. It has nothing to do with last week. It just has to do with my attitude. The guys we’ve got up front this whole year have been excellent. It’s no surprise the type of year I’m having because those guys are busting their butt each week making holes and opportunities for me to make guys miss. I just feel like it’s a challenge for me and the guys up front to get it done.”