Is LeSean McCoy the Best Running Back in the NFL?

Is LeSean McCoy the Best Running Back in the NFL?

Statistically speaking, yes -- it's that simple.

Only Minnesota's Adrian Peterson has accumulated more yards, but the Vikings have played one more game than the Eagles. Once it's broken down, LeSean McCoy is averaging 107.7 yards per game, the highest total in the league. His 5.6 yards per carry is the best of any back with greater than 60 carries. His eight rushing touchdowns are good for second place, one behind AP, and he's the only runner with a touchdown in every game he's played. Just for good measure, McCoy has hauled in 23 passes and added a pair of scores through the air.

There is little doubt now we are currently watching one of the best running backs ever to wear an Eagles uniform.

Perhaps the most amazing part is an Andy Reid offense is actually calling the running back's number with such frequency. McCoy has carried 24 times or more in three games. He's run at least 15 times in two more. Of course, how can the coaches keep the ball out of his hands? Shady is closing in on the career high he set last season, just 326 ticks shy of 1,080. He already has more touchdowns and a higher YPC.

Maybe we shouldn't be taken completely off-guard. As a team, the Birds are by far the best at running the ball. Aided by Mike Vick's 422 on the year, Philadelphia is averaging 20 yards more per game than second-place Oakland, and .6 more per run than second-place Minnesota. Alhough it is rare for Reid to pound the rock this often, it's not even an entirely new concept. Brian Westbrook once finished as high as third in the NFL for rushing yards in 2007, and the '03 club finished fifth in attempts and seventh in yards with a backfield of Duce Staley, Dorsey Levens, and a young Westbrook, boosted by a mobile Donovan McNabb.

And yet none of the backs who have been through here over the past 13 seasons have made the impact McCoy has over seven games. He has a legitimate shot at breaking Wilbert Montgomery's franchise record of 1,512 yards set in 1979, and Steve Van Buren's 15 touchdowns in 1945 is not out of the question either. If Shady continues at this pace, every major Eagles rushing record will have fallen by season's end.

But quite possibly the greatest part of all is McCoy looks like he is in this for the long haul. Because he's so shifty, rarely do defenders appear to get clean shots at him. Even when there is physicality, McCoy is strong and hitting the defender right back. Obviously injuries can happen to anybody, but I'm not watching the game nervous about the running back breaking down as easily as my old '93 Subaru Loyale. He is 23 years old, in his third NFL season, and ready to handle the load.

Is he really the best in the NFL? At the very least, he's in good company. Peterson clearly is a beast, Matt Forte -- who we'll see on Sunday -- is having a tremendous season in his own right, and there are a handful of backs who maybe are not among the top five rushers right now, but might have a claim to the title. At the running back position, the best in show can change quickly.

Something tells me this LeSean McCoy is for real though after hanging 185 on the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, and his name will be at or near the top of the list at the end of year. Ponder that for a moment... the Eagles might have a back lead the league in rushing during the Andy Reid era.

That statement alone should garner some votes for best back.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.