EVAN MATHIS expressed concern, when LeSean McCoy's vow to "put the offense on my back" against the Chicago Bears was conveyed to the Eagles' left guard.
"Some of us are kinda heavy," Mathis noted.
OK, in a very literal sense, maybe not a good idea. But as an abstract concept, as a rallying cry, it certainly works. McCoy leads the NFL with 1,343 yards on 269 carries, despite this last lost weekend in Minnesota, when Chip Kelly forgot he wasn't Andy Reid and McCoy carried the ball only eight times, for 38 yards. This week, the Eagles host an opponent who has (1) a potent offense the Birds would probably like to keep on the sideline as much as possible, and (2) the NFL's worst run defense, allowing 152.4 rushing yards per game.
"He's the kind of guy who can take over a game. It's good to hear that kind of thing coming from him," Mathis said, in a more serious vein.
McCoy was very serious, as the Eagles continued to dig out from under last Sunday's 48-30 embarrassment.
"This is a big game for us, very big," McCoy said, when asked about the possibility of a reduced role, should Dallas defeat Washington in the afternoon, making the Eagles' Sunday night game moot, in terms of making the playoffs (though it will still matter for playoff seeding). "The Cowboys, they'll do what they gotta do, but for us, Philadelphia, we've got to win this game . . . I feel like this game, I want to put the offense on my back. I want to roll. I want to get goin'. I think me and the guys up front, we've got to set the tone. Once we do that, we can worry about the other teams. Right now, the big guys up front and myself, we need to put this game on our back, and take care of business."
We can be fairly certain Minnesota was an anomaly, in terms of McCoy's carries. Unlike Reid, Kelly has built his offense around McCoy, who will set a career high in carries the fifth time Nick Foles hands him the ball this week. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, quizzed extensively Tuesday on the pass-run ratio against the Vikings, finally said: "I think that's not something you'll see every week."
McCoy said he feels free to speak his mind to Kelly, but he doesn't feel he really needs to say much.
"The good thing about Chip that I actually love is, he's so competitive, 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 . . . But he's an offensive genius. I don't have to tell him I need the ball, 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."
One of Kelly's arguments, when questioned about only getting McCoy eight carries last Sunday, has been to point to the fact that the Eagles couldn't pick up third-and-1 or fourth-and-less-than-1 in the third quarter. Of course, Kelly knows there is more to it than that, that McCoy gets better the more he carries, the more he can feel out a defense.
The Vikings had a good plan to hobble the Eagles' offense - though Foles did throw for a career-high 428 yards, and the Birds did score 30 points. Minnesota kept a single high safety, devoted the other safety to stopping the run, and played tight on receivers off the line. You could beat the Vikings deep, and the Eagles did, more than once, but it's hard to build rhythm and consistency in an offense that way. You can go three-and-out pretty easily, unless the pass protection is really, really good and the QB is really, really sharp. (That's one of the many things we learned the hard way during the Reid era, even if Andy and Marty Mornhinweg never really did.)
But as center Jason Kelce observed yesterday, every team that has played the Eagles since Week 2 has lined up to stop the run, tried to make the quarterback beat them. Most of those weeks, the Eagles ran the ball well anyway. McCoy acknowledged as much, said he didn't know what was different about Minnesota. Taking a guess, it might have been the Eagles falling behind, Kelly and Shurmur feeling they had to win a shootout, and the Vikings being without their two starting corners.
The first part of that problem might also factor into this week. The Bears can score a lot of points, Jay Cutler, commanding versatile 1,200-yard running back Matt Forte and a superb trio of receivers. If they jump out on top, it'll be interesting to see how the Eagles respond.
Going into the Minnesota game, McCoy was coming off setting the franchise single-game rushing record of 217 yards against the Lions. He was on pace to easily break Wilbert Montgomery's single-season franchise record of 1,512 rushing yards, set in 1979. Now he needs 173 yards over the final 2 weeks to set the record. McCoy is still averaging nearly 96 yards per game, so he remains on pace, but he probably can't afford another game like Minnesota.
McCoy said he isn't counting.
"If it happens, it happens," McCoy said. "One of these years, I'll break it."
Chip Kelly said corner Brandon Boykin has not been cleared to return from the concussion he suffered Sunday, but yesterday evening, Boykin said on 94 WIP that he expects to be able to play this week. Make of that what you will . . . Linebacker Emmanuel Acho was signed to the Eagles' practice squad, a day after he was cut so that the Eagles could add safety Keelan Johnson to the roster . . . Safeties Colt Anderson (knee) and Kurt Coleman (hamstring) did not practice yesterday and seem unlikely to play Sunday.