Problems solved for McCoy, Eagles' ground game

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Problems solved for McCoy, Eagles' ground game

Geoff Mosher and Derrick Gunn recap the Eagles' win over Tampa

October 14, 2013, 8:00 am
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LeSean McCoy racked up 171 total yards on Sunday and nearly matched his rushing output from the previous two games combined. (USA Today Images)

TAMPA, Fla. -- So much for the theory that LeSean McCoy won’t see open running lanes when Nick Foles is the quarterback.

The lanes were wide and ample at times Sunday for the NFL’s leading rusher. And when they weren’t, he still made the most of his carries and catches at Raymond James Stadium.

McCoy rushed for 116 yards on 25 carries against the Bucs, who entered Sunday’s game with the NFL’s ninth-best rushing defense. He also caught two screens for 55 yards.

In total, his 171 yards in the Eagles’ 31-20 win were the most since his 189-yard breakout in the season opener (see Instant Replay).

Quite the bounce back after his 20-carry, 46-yard effort against the Giants last Sunday.

“We watched tape and we corrected the errors,” McCoy said, “and I feel like everybody wants us just to run the ball for so many yards, like the first game. The thing is, the defense gets paid, too. They’ve got a heck of [a lot of good] players on the other side. And when you lead the league, guys want to stop you. So we’re fine with that. We’ve got tons of playmakers.”

McCoy, who missed last year's game against the Bucs with a concussion, secured his 15th career 100-yard rushing effort and the 11th-best rushing total of his career. The 171 total yards from scrimmage are the fourth-most of his career.

“Well, there’s more missed tackles than we’ve had, for sure,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “But we haven’t played against Shady McCoy, either. We’re not the last team he’s going to make miss tackles. I thought we actually tackled him, at times, pretty well. They’re going to get what they’re going to get. That’s a given with that back.”

McCoy’s strong first half -- nine carries for 54 yards -- not only relieved outside anxiety from his abysmal second half against the Giants, when he ran seven times and netted minus-four yards after Nick Foles replaced an injured Vick, but also allowed Foles to air it out more as the game progressed.

When McCoy’s presence caused the Bucs to bring an extra safety into the box, Foles made the defense pay on the outside. He threw second-half touchdowns of 47 yards (to Riley Cooper) and 36 (to DeSean Jackson).

“When they did it to us we made them pay,” Kelly said. “I think that’s the mark of a good football team.”

Kelly didn’t jumble his personnel groupings or rewrite the playbook with Foles in place, even though Tampa’s defense didn’t have to scheme around the quarterback’s running ability without Vick.

Kelly made some minor tinkers with formations, capitalizing on outside zone runs and unbalanced line formations, to counter some of his team's problems against stunting defensive linemen that surfaced against the Giants.

“We knew they were going to try to take the run away,” McCoy said. “They did a lot of stunts. They’re a very fast and aggressive defense. But I think the linemen up front just made the right calls and got into their blocks and Coach Kelly, give a lot of credit to him. He made the right calls. It just worked out.”

Good thing, too, because McCoy wasn’t happy about his two-game slump. He hadn’t gone over 100 yards in consecutive games.

The 116 he hung on Tampa was just three yards less than his total from the two previous games.

“Any game that he doesn’t have 100 yards or more, he takes it personal,” Kelce said. “Shady all week was telling me how badly he played last game and I’m like, ‘Bro, if we do a better job handling the nose guard, you probably still have 100 yards and you’re still running.’ He’s very hard on himself, and that’s why he’s one of the best in the game because each week he runs hard, plays hard, takes it personal when he’s not being productive, whether it’s his fault or not.”

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