What's behind McCoy's struggles? It's complicated

What's behind McCoy's struggles? It's complicated

Kelly addresses the struggling offense

October 29, 2013, 10:15 am
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LeSean McCoy has averaged just 66 rushing yards over his last four games after averaging 117 in his first four. (AP)

You know things are bad when even LeSean McCoy is struggling.
 
The first four weeks of the season, McCoy led the NFL with 117 rushing yards per game, 152 yards from scrimmage per game and 6.0 yards per carry.
 
The last four games, those numbers are down to 66 rushing yards per game (eighth-most in the league over that span), 102 yards from scrimmage per game (seventh) and just 3.40 yards per carry (17th-best).
 
So his yards per carry is down an astonishing 43 percent from the first month to the second.
 
No wonder the Eagles can’t score.
 
“I don't think you can be one‑sided,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “In the last two weeks, we haven't run the ball the way we've needed to run the ball. It's a combination of the backs hitting the hole when the hole is there and the offensive linemen creating a little bit more movement at times.
 
“You can't just say, ‘It's just this.’ If it's just this, it would be an easy fix. We're not hitting it the way we're supposed to hit it? Well then, we have to fix that this way. One play it works perfectly and then the next play it doesn't.
 
“We're supposed to hit the ball up inside the pull‑up block and we don't hit it up inside of the pull‑up block. We're just kind of off a little bit. We need to get back into that rhythm.”
 
McCoy averaged at least 4 ½ yards per carry in each of the Eagles’ first four games, but he’s been at 3.2 or lower in three of the last four, the only exception coming in Tampa, where he ran 25 times for 116 yards.
 
Not coincidentally, that’s the only game the Eagles have won in the last month. When McCoy rushes for 100 yards, the Eagles are 10-3.
 
Certainly missing Michael Vick has been a problem. When Vick is a threat to run, it’s easier for McCoy to find running room.
 
But there’s a lot more to it. The offensive line has not played up to expectations and McCoy admittedly has not been at his best reading holes and making decisions.
 
“I think LeSean, to his credit, is his own worst critic,” Kelly said Monday. “He takes a lot of responsibility. His numbers have been down the last two weeks. I think sometimes LeSean is trying to press too much and trying to hit a home run on every play instead of letting it develop.
 
“Sometimes we talk about line get us two, back get us two. Then it's 2nd-and-6. Maybe we'll call the same play again. Now it is 3rd-and-2. Third-and-2s are easier to convert than 3rd-and-12s.
 
“If we start to move east-west and we're not getting our shoulders squared to the end zone and starting to get the ball downhill, I think we get into some situations that are tough to get ourselves out of.
 
“When you find yourself on 2nd-and-12s, maybe you're going to throw it on that down, you don't convert, now it's 3rd-and-12. It's tough.
 
“I think when we're successful offensively, we're playing downhill football. First 10 goes to 2nd-and-5. Second-and-5 may convert or it goes to 3rd-and-1. Those are a lot easier to call, those are a lot easier to convert. Everything is a lot easier.”

McCoy still leads the NFL with 733 rushing yards, 98 more than Jamaal Charles, and he’s second in yards from scrimmage with 1,017, one fewer than Charles.

So he’s on pace for 1,466 rushing yards, which would be second-most in franchise history to Wilbert Montgomery’s 1,512 in 1979, and 2,014 yards from scrimmage, which would be second-most in franchise history to Brian Westbrook’s 2,014 in 2007.

Not bad. But over the past few weeks, the yards have not come easy for the 25-year-old McCoy.

McCoy has gone three straight games without a touchdown, two straight games without a run over 10 yards for the first time since 2010 and five straight games without a run of 20 yards for the first time since his first five career games in 2009.
 
Since he became a full-time starter in 2010, McCoy has 31 runs from scrimmage of 20 yards or more. Only Adrian Peterson (47) and Chris Johnson (33) have more during that 3 ½-year span.
 
But McCoy has only three this year, none since Week 3 vs. the Chiefs.

On Sunday, the Eagles, 3-5 with no offensive TDs in their last two games, will be in Oakland to face the Raiders, who are 3-4 but are fourth in the NFL in rush defense (90 yards per game), fourth in yards per carry (3.5) and one of just two NFL teams that hasn’t allowed a 25-yard run. The Eagles are the other.
 
“I think at times because of LeSean's competitiveness, he's trying to hit the home run,” Kelly said. “It's one of his strengths, too. It's the tough part where you regulate it. There’s times where you're like, ‘No, no, no, great run, big guy.’ That's what you get with him.
 
“So it's tough. How much do you reel him in? We've talked about it. That's why he's frustrated. I think he's frustrated in himself because there's some things there that he's leaving some yards on the field. I think he wants those back. That's one of the qualities I love about the kid.”