In each of the Eagles’ three victories this season, there’s been one constant: running back LeSean McCoy received 20 or more carries.
Conversely, they’re 0-6 when McCoy gets fewer than 20.
Only Andy Reid can tell you why McCoy doesn’t play a prominent role in the Eagles’ offense on a more consistent basis. Or, for that matter, how many times the NFL’s most elusive tailback will carry the ball Sunday at FedEx Field.
Regardless, the Redskins are preparing as though McCoy’s number will be called early and often, particularly since the Eagles will have a first-time starter at quarterback in rookie Nick Foles.
“Considering that he’s not getting too many touches per game, it makes [his numbers] that much more impressive,” linebacker Rob Jackson said of McCoy.
Through nine games, McCoy has rushed for 705 yards (11th in the NFL) and two touchdowns, one season after he amassed 1,307 yards and 17 touchdowns in 15 games. The drop off n production has led to pointed questions in Philadelphia about McCoy’s role and, specifically, why the 24-year-old is averaging only 18 carries per game.
That, however, is not the Redskins’ worry. Stopping the shifty 5 foot 11, 208 pound tailback is their only concern.
McCoy uses a rare combination of agility, vision and anticipation to make defenders miss. He also utilizes his world-class acceleration to outrun opponents, a number underscored by his seven carries of 20 or more yards (third most in the NFL).
“You really can’t contain him,” Jackson added. “You just have to limit him. Every time he gets the ball, he makes at least one guy miss. He’s elusive.”
McCoy played in only one of the NFC East rivals’ two meetings last season, racking up 126 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 28 carries in the Eagles’ 20-13 victory at FedEx Field in October. (McCoy missed the second meeting with a sprained ankle.)
“Do your job," Jackson added, asked how to limit McCoy. "Don’t try to do nobody else’s job. That’s when he’ll hurt you. The second you leave your gap, he’ll pop out and then pop back right where you were supposed to be.”
A similar sentiment was echoed throughout the Redskins’ locker room this week: discipline, sound positioning and textbook tackling form will be the key to slowing Philadelphia's best player.
“He reminds me of…” linebacker Perry Riley said, pausing for a moment to think. “I don’t know if there are too many like him. He’s one of a kind. I don’t know if he’s quite Barry Sanders, but he’s the closest thing to him. When you have him one-on-one in the open field, you have to tackle him. If he breaks a tackle and gets out into space, he can cause problems for us.”
Lineman Kedric Golston added: “As far as I’m concerned, he’s probably the most elusive back I’ve played against. I didn’t get to play against Barry Sanders, but McCoy is full speed in two steps and can cut on a dime.”