Let’s be blunt and honest here. If you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan, there isn’t much to be happy about and there aren't too many reasons to remain optimistic after Sunday’s eye-opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, exposed the Eagles on both sides of the ball. Most importantly, he established a blueprint for the rest of the NFL on how to dominate the Eagles. If Andy Reid wants to avoid a repeat performance, he will have no choice but to act upon his postgame acknowledgment that, “it would have been OK to run the ball a little more.”
Now for those not following along at home, this goes against Reid’s offseason plan to limit the number of touches that LeSean McCoy receives. However, if he doesn’t want to jeopardize the health of his starting quarterback by letting him drop back over 40 times per game, then it would be unwise to deny McCoy his crown.
Yes, at 2-1, the Eagles are better record-wise than they were last year, but no one would exactly accredit that to Vick’s reliable (although pretty clutch) play. The solution to fix this problem should be loud and clear, and it should scream: RUN THE BALL!
McCoy is undoubtedly the best player on this Eagles team and is also one of the NFL’s premier running backs. He is as complete as they come and is the only running back who warrants comparisons to Barry Sanders.
Other Eagles players, like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, are similar big-play threats, no doubt, but they’ve already made their way onto the injury report too many times for my liking. Maclin has yet to break the 1,000-yard plateau that skill players are measured by, and Jackson is better suited as the primary decoy rather than the primary option.
Brent Celek would be the second-most reliable option on this offense and has the potential to become an elite tight end. However, his offensive game is going to be limited when Philadelphia needs him to stay in for pass protection (and I expect that to be more often moving forward).
The defensive unit has been very good to open the season, but with so many players making solid contributions, it’s hard to pinpoint one standout. Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Fletcher Cox, DeMeco Ryans and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all deserve some say in that discussion—which makes McCoy’s separation from his offensive teammates the only argument he needs.
Why he’s averaged less than 20 carries per game this season astounds me. He operates much better behind the offensive line than Vick does and should actually be used to help open up things downfield for his teammates.
McCoy can be utilized in a variety of ways and will be the biggest matchup problem for each opponent in the final 13 games.
In the past, Reid was creative in finding different ways to get Brian Westbrook the ball, which explains why No. 36 is the Eagles’ all-time leader in yards from scrimmage.
This is a record that I’d expect the fourth-year back to break before his time is done.
Although I’m identifying the running back as the team’s current best player, it’s an honor he earned in 2011 and carried into this year. After breaking the franchise’s all-time single-season record for touchdowns during his second year as a starter, McCoy started off strong during the first two weeks.
Aside from his two fumbles, the make-you-miss expert has been a magician in the backfield and just creates holes that aren’t supposed to be there. Even though he’s been caught dancing around plenty of times against the Baltimore Ravens, he still boasts a healthy yards-per-carry average and has been on the verge of breaking off some huge runs.
According to Football Outsiders, last year, McCoy led the league in broken tackles with 50. For players with at least 300 touches, he led them in broken tackle percentage by a wide margin. If Reid and Marty Mornhinweg want to restore order to their offense, they better take a lesson from their running back and break away from this unbalanced play-calling.
Before getting injured in a 2011 Week 16 matchup with the Cowboys, McCoy was challenging Maurice Jones-Drew for the NFL rushing title. Ironically enough though, it is his coach who could keep him from that crown again this year.
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