Zone Read: Eagles-49ers, the Day After

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Surrounded by a group of reporters at his locker, the usually talkative LeSean McCoy appeared to be a man without much to say on Sunday evening.

He first spoke about being embarrassed that the offense accounted for zero points in the Eagles’ 26-21 loss to the 49ers. But then the line of questioning became a bit more specific, focusing on the struggles of the rushing attack.

“I’m not talking about running the football,” McCoy said. “I don’t even want to talk about that. Any other questions?”

There were other questions, but in some form or another, many of them involved the fact that the Eagles had just managed 22 total  yards on the ground on 12 carries (1.8 YPC). Of that, McCoy was responsible for 17 yards on 1o carries (1.7 YPC).

In previous weeks, when asked about the struggles of the run game, McCoy has said all the right things. He’s noted that the backup offensive linemen were doing their best to open up holes. He acknowledged that defenses were keying on him. And he even took responsibility for not making the most of the opportunities he did have.

But at some point, the frustration has to set in, and Sunday’s loss to the Niners may very well have been that point. Through the first quarter of the season, McCoy has 175 yards on 60 carries. He’s averaging 2.9 YPC and has found the end zone once. In the past two games, the numbers are even worse. McCoy has carried 29 times for 39 yards (1.3 YPC).

The Eagles played Sunday’s game with three backups on the offensive line. And a fourth, Todd Herremans, was lined up at a different position, sliding outside to right tackle.

Asked if McCoy’s struggles were entirely due to the ineffectiveness of the banged-up offensive line, Chip Kelly said: “Yeah, I think. We couldn’t get anything going up front, so it was very tough sledding for anybody in there. It wasn’t like if you put Darren [Sproles] in there that Darren’s running up and down the field and it’s on LeSean. It isn’t. Running the football’s a cooperative deal. It’s gotta be everybody, and we just didn’t get it done.”

McCoy was asked if 12 carries as a team was enough.

“That’s the way the game was called,” he said. “Whatever play’s called, that’s what we’ve gotta execute.”

McCoy dealt with a toe injury in August, but has not been listed on the injury report. He took a helmet to helmet hit against Washington, but was not diagnosed with a concussion.

Asked if he’s 100 percent healthy, McCoy said: “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I’m healthy or not. We’ve gotta win games. I’m fine.”

If Kelly felt that McCoy was part of the problem, chances are he’d let Sproles or even Chris Polk get a few carries. But that hasn’t happened. On Sunday, Sproles had one rushing attempt. Polk did not get a touch.

The issue going forward is that the offensive line struggles are likely to continue. The team gets Lane Johnson back this week, which should help. But he hasn’t practiced or been around the team for a month. Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis figure to be out several more weeks.

The ground game has been the foundation of Kelly’s attack. But there don’t appear to be any obvious solutions to get it going. That could mean increased frustration and even fewer words for McCoy in the days ahead.