Three days after rushing the ball only eight times, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was outspoken about the role he expects to play in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
"I feel like this game, I need to put the offense on my back," McCoy said Wednesday. "I want to roll, I want to get going. I think me and the guys up front, we've got to set the tone."
This would be a good week to do it. The Bears have the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Chip Kelly's play calling is often matchup-oriented - the Eagles liked their matchup against the Minnesota Vikings cornerbacks, so they emphasized the pass. It would be impractical not to use the NFL's leading rusher against a defense that allows 152.4 rushing yards per game.
"I feel like the matchup is there," McCoy said. "I feel like our offensive linemen against the defensive fronts, a one-on-one matchup, I feel like we win that matchup. . . .
"We put ourselves in a hole by losing last week. This week we come out and we have to win. That's my attitude and my approach. It has nothing to do with [the number of carries] last week. It has to do with my attitude."
The eight carries and 38 yards against Minnesota were both season lows for McCoy, and they came after he set a franchise record with 217 rushing yards against the Detroit Lions on Dec. 8.
The Vikings were without their top three cornerbacks, and Eagles coaches cited the matchup as a reason for the emphasis on the pass. Plus, they were playing from behind.
But the Eagles continued running the ball in the Lions game despite a 14-point deficit in the second half. When that point was made to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, he referred to the snowy conditions against the Lions.
McCoy averages nearly 2 more yards carry in the fourth quarter than the first, so sticking with the running game in the second half would be a sensible strategy for a player who improves as the game progresses.
"We do what we have to do to win the game," Shurmur said. "Sometimes you run it more than you throw it. Sometimes you throw it more than you run it. What happens is, everybody, after the game is over, looks at the numbers and says, 'That's why you didn't win.' "
Kelly was asked about the Eagles' pass-run ratio against the Vikings (50 called passes, 10 called rushes). He noted that the Eagles accumulated 475 yards. Any coach would take 475 yards, regardless of the play distribution.
Kelly emphasized that the Eagles featured McCoy in the passing game against the Vikings, too. McCoy finished with five catches. When McCoy discussed the ideal number of touches he would want in a given game, he said it's a combination of both rushes and receptions.
"Especially in this offense, it's different," McCoy said. "I can touch the ball in every way, from running the ball to receiving. I don't really have a number. It's not my call. I know I'm going to get the ball."
Bears coach Marc Trestman is well aware of McCoy's ability.
"He is such an explosive player; he can do it all," Trestman said. "We face good backs each and every week and he is certainly one of the best in the league. We are going to have to know where he is and we are going to do whatever we can to neutralize him."
McCoy said it's sometimes preferable to get the ball in the passing game because it allows him to operate in space against a smaller defensive back instead of confined areas crowded with big linemen.
Kelly said earlier this week that the Vikings brought an extra safety into the box to stop the run, although McCoy said that's the case with most teams. He has had sterling performances against defenses focused on stopping him.
Trestman was encouraged when Chicago held Cleveland to fewer than 100 rushing yards on Sunday. The best news for Chicago would be the return of veteran linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), who has not played since Oct. 20 and would improve the defense.
Trestman said Briggs practiced Wednesday with the first team. "I'm optimistic he will play," Trestman said.
McCoy, meanwhile, is optimistic that Kelly will dial up enough plays for him.
"He's an offensive genius," McCoy said. "I don't need to tell him I want the ball. He knows what plays we need to run and the right time to call the plays. I don't know that stuff."
BY THE NUMBERS
LeSean McCoy's number of carries against the Lions (for 217 yards).
McCoy's number of carries against the Vikings (for 38 yards). EndText