Lurie On McCoy: Chip Wanted a One-Cut Runner

Jeffrey Lurie. Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY

Jeffrey Lurie. Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY

PHOENIX, Ariz. — When Chip Kelly explained the LeSean McCoy trade a couple weeks ago, he made it sound like the decision was primarily a financial one. The Eagles wanted to free up some cap space and rid themselves of McCoy’s contract.

But that theory met some resistance when the team later threw $23 million guaranteed at DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie addressed the media Tuesday afternoon and provided some clarity.

“We’ve been talking about the asset value of LeSean for a long time because he wasn’t the style of runner that Chip prefers, but a great player,” Lurie said.

“Getting players that fit more of what he’s all about in terms of their style of play. LeSean McCoy is a great running back — all-time franchise leader. Great guy in every way. To maximize his power spread offense, he’s always admired the one-cut runners. That’s what he admired. You’ve gotta let a coach try to bring in the players that fit best what he’s all about to maximize what he’s trying to accomplish. It really boils down to that. You have a decision as an owner: Do you want to fight that? Or do want to adopt it? I went all out to try and get Chip as the coach, and I’m really happy we did. He’s got a great potential future, and I’m happy to be able to provide him the resources to be able to maximize what he’s all about.”

The explanation is for the most part a fair one. If Kelly were to sketch out the ideal running back for his scheme, it would not be McCoy, who dances at times and is more of a home run hitter.

At the same time, McCoy ran for 2,926 yards on 626 attempts and averaged 4.7 YPC in 32 regular-season games with Kelly. Last year’s numbers dipped (4.2 YPC), but the Eagles used 11 different offensive linemen throughout the course of the year. McCoy has proved to be durable too, having started 32 consecutive games.

In other words, his style might not have been perfect, but McCoy was productive. Might Kelly’s requirements be a bit too stringent?

“I don’t think so at all,” Lurie said. “Especially at the running back position. They’re findable. The hardest is quarterback.”

Lurie used the term “power spread” on multiple occasions to describe Kelly’s offense. He seemed to imply that the Eagles might have been too soft the past two years.

“When we hired Chip, his style of play is very different than what we had before,” Lurie said. “It’s a power spread offense, and it’s a 3-4 defense, and we were not organized and designed in that way. We had outstanding young finesse and fast players, really good at that. We had to over two years understand where were at.”

Lurie sung McCoy’s praises, but made it clear: The move was not financially motivated. Kelly simply felt he could garner more production from a different running back (or two).

We’ll find out next season if he’s right.