WITH ALL due respect to Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley and the inimitable Ricky Watters, there never has been a back with the gifts of LeSean McCoy. Indeed, only the romance of the run by the La Salle men's basketball team and the shameless self-promotion of ageless boxer Bernard Hopkins kept McCoy from . . . er . . . running away with the award.

Mostly, it's because the balloting ends a month before football season ends.

Yes, McCoy has been enabled by flashy new coach Chip Kelly, who finished third in the voting. However, Kelly hasn't shaken one defender; McCoy has shaken dozens. Kelly hasn't had one run of 10 yards or more; McCoy leads the league with 42.

McCoy also leads the league with 1,476 rushing yards and 2,012 yards from scrimmage. He is a lock for his second Pro Bowl appearance in three seasons. On a team that boasts DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters and upstart quarterback Nick Foles, McCoy is its most important, its most valuable and its most talented player. They are 9-6 and atop the NFC East more because of him than because of anything, or anyone, else.

There is, of course, the very good chance that McCoy wins next year.

He is only in his fifth season, and has proved to be pretty durable.

The Birds play in the worst division in recent memory, populated by three teams who seem to be regressing. So, they should be relevant again.

And, well, McCoy is just getting better.

He is a better north-south runner this year than ever, which helped him break the team record with 217 rushing yards in the Snow Bowl against the Lions.

He better understands his place on the team; after getting only eight carries in Game 14, a loss at woeful Minnesota, he did not question his superiors' playcalling.

He can be even better; better at squaring his shoulders in short yardage, better at blocking blitzers, better at reading blocks.

And, well, that's kind of terrifying.

Marshall Faulk gained 2,429 yards from scrimmage in 1999 with the Greatest Show on Turf, a record that stood for a decade. That Rams club won the Super Bowl.

McCoy is on pace to log 2,146 yards from scrimmage, which would break Westbrook's club record set in 2007.

He is on pace to rush for 1,574 yards, which would break Wilbert Montgomery's club record set in 1979.

In short, McCoy is having the sort of season that will result in a Pro Bowl trip, will net him MVP votes and could be the most prolific season by a back in franchise history.

And, he was beaten by a first-year coach, a 48-year-old fighter and a guy who let the world know that the "Southwest Philly Floater" isn't what homicide calls a John Doe in the Schuylkill.

McCoy can remedy this himself.

He can do it again next year.

On Twitter: @inkstainedretch
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