THE BEST YOUNG running back in the history of the franchise, a more productive runner/receiver at this point in his career than any of them (and by a lot), LeSean McCoy is modeled after Brian Westbrook and pointed in the same direction. That is the big picture.
Cowboys Stadium, Sunday night, 4:22 left to play, Eagles leading by 30-27, ball on their 10-yard line, short pass to McCoy for 6 yards, McCoy over the left side for 12 yards, and then for 19 yards, and then over the right side for 13 yards and then, later, on the final meaningful play, over the left side again for a backbreaking 6 yards on third-and-1.
That is the small picture that still had Eagles coach Andy Reid raving the next day.
It is what McCoy is now.
"Coach is always harping on finishing," McCoy was saying in the locker room after the game. "It's great to start but it's how you finish. Even when we practice, the biggest thing is, 'Finish, finish, finish.' That's the biggest thing."
Finish, finish, finish. The words were just tumbling forth, rapid-fire. Finish, finish, finish. This was no time for home runs, no time for fancy. In the business of closing out a victory in the National Football League, it was brute force paving the way to the end.
"That type of game, those guys know what's coming," McCoy was saying. "You can't kind of dance around when they have those guys in the box. They know you're running the ball. In that type of situation, you just have to run hard . . . Different situation, you have to change your game up a little bit."
McCoy's success just continues to build upon itself. A player who wore out physically as a rookie is flourishing now after an extensive offseason strength and workout program. A guy whose problem was always going to be with the complexity of blitz pickup is now impressing his coach with his mental work ethic.
First, physical: "He knew he had to get stronger," Reid said. "There was just no ways around that. He had to be in better shape and be stronger if he was going to be the primary back, and so he had a real good offseason in that way and increased his strength and really lived with Barry [Rubin, the head strength and conditioning coach] there. He got himself stronger."
As a result, he is doing better late in games and late in the season. With his career-high 149 rushing yards and 4 receiving yards against the Cowboys, McCoy now leads the NFC in yards from scrimmage with 1,510.
As for Eagles franchise history, here are the yards from scrimmage numbers from the first two seasons of every running back. McCoy blows everybody away, and he still has three games to play.
Rk. NameYards From Scrimmage
1. LeSean McCoy (2009-10) . . . 2,455
2. Billy Ray Barnes (1957-58) . . . 1,715
3. Wilbert Montgomery ('77-78). . . 1,616
4. Duce Staley (1997-98) . . . 1,548
5. Correll Buckhalter (2001, '03). . . 1,391
The whole lineage thing is fascinating here. McCoy, more than once, has credited Westbrook (tied for 13th on that franchise list at 1,224 yards in his first two seasons) with teaching him how to be a pro. Now, Reid credits both running-backs coach Ted Williams and Staley, a coaching intern this year, with giving McCoy a combination of perspectives.
Reid makes it plain that they looked for a Westbrook clone to follow Westbrook, and that they used Westbrook as their template in trying to keep it going.
"Well, listen, Brian spoiled us a little bit because we could move him all over the place," Reid said. "And Brian was one of the more intelligent players that I ever coached. So that kind of sets the bar a little higher for that next back coming in. But you have to be able to catch, you have to be able to block and you have to be able to run the football, and Brian can do all of those and do them very well. So when you go out, you can't help but look - you don't want your offense to go down a notch."
With Shady McCoy, it has not gone down, not a bit - and he is still so young. Good health remains what separates the good from the great at that position, and good health is something a player cannot really control. But in the here and now, McCoy is as versatile a weapon as anyone could have expected.
Meanwhile, on his Twitter account, McCoy offered an update yesterday afternoon.
"Just got pulled over Speeding," he wrote.
There is a line in there somewhere.
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