IT SEEMS most likely that the Eagles' running game isn't clicking because the offensive line hasn't quite come together, with key players still working back into top form after missing time with injuries. And it's apparent opponents are gearing up to shut down LeSean McCoy.
But as McCoy's yards per carry average dwindles - he's at a career-low 3.7 this season, after gaining 88 yards on 23 carries in Sunday's blowout loss to the Packers - inevitably, the NFL's 2013 rushing leader faces questions about his abilities.
Yesterday wasn't the first time McCoy, 26, has been asked whether he's lost something. But it might have been the day he decided he was really tired of the question.
"Man, listen, I don't care what's out there," McCoy said in response to a question from Fox 29's Howard Eskin about whether he was "the same player." Sensing McCoy's annoyance, Eskin had ended his question by saying he was "just trying to clear up what's out there."
"I'm not going to address 'Am I the same player?' I won't address that. For what? What are we talking about, am I the same player? That's for y'all to figure out. You crazy? Am I the same player? I am the same player," McCoy said.
That was the final question of the news conference, and McCoy continued in the same vein as he made his way out of the media tent.
Earlier, McCoy said he has "the same confidence, the same type of swagger . . . That'll never change."
This week, the Eagles host Tennessee, which ranks 31st against the rush, and saw a strong effort slide down the tubes late in Monday night's game, when it couldn't stop Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell, who finished with 204 yards on 33 carries.
"The Titans are aggressive. Good front, good group," McCoy said. "But they can be blocked. Blocked up very well, which I watched in the Pittsburgh game. They're giving the backs some lanes, creases to hit."
As McCoy noted last week, as the Birds prepared to play the Packers' 30th-ranked run defense, those stats don't seem to matter much when teams face the Eagles, whose rushing attack has slipped from first in the NFL last season to 14th.
"I think the run was there" at Green Bay, center Jason Kelce said. "I think that we didn't do a good job executing up front at times. I think it was really close - one block here, one block there and you've got a really, really big run . . . Last year at this time, our chemistry was a lot better."
Kelce has been back from abdominal surgery for three games now, but acknowledged yesterday he isn't all the way back. He said some of his core muscles are weaker than usual still, so "my ability to change direction and stabilize myself isn't quite where it was, especially when I'm out in the open field running, and things like that . . . It's getting better, but it's an ongoing process for me."
Chip Kelly confirmed that rookie cornerback/safety Jaylen Watkins is now practicing exclusively at safety. Kelly seemed to hint that Chris Prosinski, signed Nov. 3, might be the next safety, if anything happened to a starter, now that Earl Wolff is on injured reserve.
"He's a real sharp guy, intelligent, he's played football in this league, at the safety position [48 games with Jacksonville over four seasons]. He's not just a special-teams player," Kelly said of Prosinski. "I think it's just a matter of how comfortable he is with our terminology . . . We haven't made any determination about who the next safety is."
Prosinski said his adjustment to the Eagles' practice pace ought to almost slow down the games for him, if he gets a shot.
"I feel comfortable. It helps with veterans out there who can talk so much, they've kind of talked me through some things," he said.
Eagles safeties make coverage calls. Prosinski said he sometimes catches himself "trying to make that call in terminology different from what these guys know. It'll come with time."
Kelly said he sat down with Wolff on Monday "to see where he was. His leg was really bothering him," so Wolff got the MRI that led to his being placed on IR, Kelly said. "Obviously, he wasn't making plays like he had been before, so it had to be affecting him."
Hanging in with Huff
Asked about Josh Huff's admission of frustration over a mistake-filled rookie year, Chip Kelly agreed with Huff that it all stemmed from the shoulder injury Huff suffered in preseason, which cost him a lot of preseason reps and the first four games of the regular season.
"It'll come. We have high hopes for Josh, and I think he's working extremely hard at it, but this isn't an instant success league," Kelly said. "You gotta continue to work at it, continue to grow. I think the time off that he missed really impacted him, just from a mental standpoint. I think the perception is that we run the same offense that we did at Oregon - we don't. It's a difficult deal for anybody to come in and learn our offense."