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.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

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AP

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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