It's curious how some athlete's greatest physical gifts can also expose their greatest flaws. Sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad.
Consider the case of LeSean McCoy -- whose total value blew every other running back's out of the water as determined by Football Outsiders' DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) rankings -- and his penchant for trying to always make something out of, at times, even less than nothing.
One of the most entertaining aspects of McCoy's game comes from his ability to appear dead-to-rights five yards behind the line of scrimmage and yet still find away to eke out positive yardage. ProFootballFocus named Shady the seventh most elusive rusher in the league last season, but that stat only accounts for a "runner's success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers," thus its unclear how often his backfield antics were calculated. Regardless, we can all agree the guy has a knack for getting out of trouble.
The only problem is that the same skill set that makes him so adept at avoiding trouble also makes him prone to losing yardage.
In short, while he's certainly adept at getting back to the line, he was also caught on plenty of occasions last year. Just as his broken-play cutbacks would sometimes work in his favor, there were other times when his improvisation would result in a loss of yardage, as even his skills couldn't elude the barrage of defenders who had him trapped.
Like plenty of Eagles fans who admire his talents, but wish he would just chalk up a play for a meager, rather than large, loss in certain instances, Eagles running back coach Ted Williams recently explained to the Daily News' Rich Hoffman McCoy's thought process:
“Because he can, he thinks he can all the time,” Williams said.
In short, it's the idea that McCoy is still learning what its like to play from week-to-week in the NFL. Against some schemes or personnel packages, his improvisation will work, but against the league's top defenses, as Williams puts it:
"The toughest thing for a guy to realize in the NFL...is dealing with what happens to you when the other guy is good."
“The really good running backs are willing to take zero. When you’re young, you think you can make a big play out of every play. That’s kind of where he is. He’s not, per se, not willing to run it up in there -- he just thinks he can make a play out of every play."
Williams says it's his job to help Shady learn when to let his talents to take over and when to simply accept that the play has failed, a topic they talk about "constantly."
Though it's a shortcoming, there are few out there, the Eagles included, who see it as such a problem that it diminishes his value. This issue is simply part of the learning curve for a running back. It's also part of what makes Shady Shady.
>>> What McCoy Still Has To Learn [DN]