Offense Should Run Through LeSean McCoy Against Detroit

Offense Should Run Through LeSean McCoy Against Detroit

Michael Vick is going to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, because that's what Michael Vick does. Chances are he'll have a good game against a defense lacking in playmakers, but mostly I'm hoping he doesn't hurt the offense with his excessive freelancing.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled quarterback controversy.

We've probably spent enough time on that topic for one week, so let's move on for now. If there is one player we should absolutely see more of this Sunday, it's LeSean McCoy.

Speaking from a practical sense, it's just smart football to hand the ball off a little more when the backup quarterback is in the game. Take the pressure off of Vick so he doesn't feel like he has to do everything. Under ordinary circumstances, asking Andy Reid to put it on the ground is like requesting Asante Samuel wrap up ball carriers, but we have seen the gameplan become more conservative in similar situations in the past.

Plus, McCoy has looked excellent with the rock. He's more decisive than he was as a rookie, and he's running with a nice mix of power and agility. He turned his seven carries against the Packers into 35 yards for a solid 5.0 average and a touchdown, and he had a few nifty runs in the preseason as well. (I throw away a lot of what I see in preseason, but you can usually get a pretty good read on running backs.)

Here's the kicker though. While most of the post-game discussion from last week's Lions-Bears encounter centered around the touchdown-catch-that-wasn't, one of the big stories that's been lost in the shuffle is how RB Matt Forte torched Detroit's defense.

Forte didn't have a particularly great game on the ground, rushing 17 times for a meager 50 yards. However, the multi-purpose back proved deadly as a receiver, finishing with seven receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions had no answer. Forte scampered 89 yards on a screen pass for his first score, then caught the game winning touchdown in the end zone, 28 yards downfield.

Obviously the Lions coaching staff will attempt to address the issues they had covering the running back, but the truth of the matter is they may not have the personnel. The Eagles should come up with ways to exploit this, especially because it ultimately results in easier throws for the quarterback.

It would be nice to see what Shady can do given a greater number of opportunities. He had the kind of rookie season that showed some promise, but didn't exactly knock anybody off their feet. Now he's the man, more so than ever with Leonard Weaver out, and utilizing the running back in the passing game has been a staple of this offense from the beginning.

Regardless of who was going to be under center this week, it was time to get back to basics. McCoy turned five receptions into 47 yards last week. If the coaches can find ways to get him into space, he might be able to double or even triple his production.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Between recent wins and Joel Embiid’s All-Star push, fans are buying their Sixers gear.

According to Fanatics.com, a sports apparel website partnered with the four major sports, the Sixers rank fourth among all NBA teams in total merchandise sales over the past seven days. The Warriors, Cavaliers and Bulls are ahead of them.

Joel Embiid was the fifth-best selling player over that period. His popularity has risen during his enthusiastic All-Star campaign, which included celebrity shoutouts and an outpour of social media activity. Embiid is now up to 553,000 Twitter followers.

The Sixers have ranked in the league’s top 10 of merchandise sales since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. They hold the largest year-over-year increase during that time frame in the NBA this season.

In September, Ben Simmons ranked in the top 10 of NBA players in merchandise sales since draft night.

Sales from the Sixers' and NBA's official online stores are included in these statistics.

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

The Sixers are clicking just in time to face their toughest competition in over a month. The Raptors (28-13) come to Philadelphia as the Sixers have won six of their last eight games by holding one another accountable and taking each outing step-by-step.

“You feel like the group is coming together,” Brett Brown said. “You feel like all the work that we have put in is starting to pay dividends in relation to a solid foundation.”

The Raptors sit second in the Eastern Conference, just one and a half games behind the Cavaliers. The last time they met, the Raptors beat the Sixers 123-114 on Dec. 14 at the Wells Fargo Center.

A lot has changed since then, especially the rotations. Brown started Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together against the Raptors, an experiment that waned out after six games. The Sixers have found a formula to winning with an established starting lineup and a consistent second unit, with the added experience of Gerald Henderson and Nerlens Noel. They will be tested Wednesday as both Joel Embiid (illness) and T.J. McConnell (wrist) are questionable.

“When you look at this team, it’s a lot of talent but we didn’t play as a team,” Ilyasova said of the start of the season. “Now we come together. I think it’s all about the chemistry, we trust each other.”

The Sixers are looking to carry over the momentum of a 113-104 victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee on Monday. They got a test of All-Star caliber talent against Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom they held to two points in the second half. The Sixers will have their hands full with the backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry (22.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (28.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists).

One key to countering talent like that placing an importance on accountability. The players are not letting each other off the hook for mistakes on the court, regardless of who the opponent is.

“I could see it over the past couple weeks, guys coming out here and being more vocal on both ends of the court,” Noel said. “If one guy messes up, you’ve got to let him know so it won’t be a recurring thing. With that, guys are taking steps in the right direction, both leadership roles because everybody on this team can be a leader in their own way.”

The Raptors come in on a four-game winning streak.