LeSean McCoy is a great RB, but an interesting question is whether he will end up being one of the all-time greats. There is no doubting the fact he has unique ability and does special things. Can he produce at a high level for an extended period of time?
This is where the Andy Reid factor comes in. Did he hurt McCoy or help him with the limited carries?
McCoy is about to turn 26. He has 1,149 career carries. Emmitt Smith is one of the biggest workhorse RBs of all time. When he turned 26, Smith already had 1,630 carries, which is almost 500 more than McCoy. Both players had 5 seasons under their belt at this age. It really is amazing to see how they were used.
Smith had his biggest year in 1995, when he was 26. He ran for 1,773 yards and 25 TDs. But that was the final season when he did anything special. There were a couple of 1,300 yard seasons after that, but Smith only averaged 4.2 yards per carry and scored a total of 24 TDs. Those are certainly good numbers, but nothing like the special ones he put up earlier in his career. The Cowboy offense was in decline. The O-line wasn’t dominant. And Smith had taken a beating early in his career that caught up to him.
There is still plenty of tread on the tire with McCoy. But you can argue that Reid wasted his best years by not feeding him the ball more. We can’t accurately judge the situation until we see how the next few seasons goes. Does McCoy keep his dynamic cutting ability for the next couple of years or the next 5 years? Once that goes, he’s going to have to change the way he runs.
It is good that Chip Kelly arrived when he did. McCoy is at his peak now, in terms of health and experience. Kelly will feed him the ball and McCoy can put up big numbers if he can stay healthy. McCoy in 2013:
314 – 1,607 – 9 – 5.1
McCoy led the NFL with the 1,607 yards. The yards per carry was outstanding. Any time a workhorse runner is above 5 ypc, that is very impressive. It is a bit curious that McCoy “only” scored the 9 TDs. I’m sure he wants that number to go up in 2014.
One interesting difference with Emmitt and McCoy is the offense they played in. Dallas was a running team. Emmitt finished his career with 11 TD catches. He only had 4 TD receptions when he turned 26. McCoy has 10 TD catches already. The number of receptions is similar, but not the way the players were used. Emmitt was strictly there for screens and checkdowns. McCoy is part of the passing game. One of his best highlights in 2013 was beating Ryan Kerrigan down the right sideline for a long catch and run. That was a beautiful pass play.
McCoy has gotten better each year. He works at his game. He is more disciplined in short yardage situations. As a young RB, he would too often look for the big play. He is now disciplined enough to focus on moving the chains with 1 or 2 tough yards. McCoy runs more N-S than he did earlier in his career. He still takes some crazy chances and does unusual things, but that’s part of his game. You can’t expect him to be like every other RB. He’s got a bit of Barry Sanders to him. In order to enjoy the long runs and dynamic plays, you must live with the ones that don’t work out so well.
His non-traditional running style will help McCoy as he gets older. He doesn’t live between the tackles, where a RB can take a real beating. McCoy is a player that is at his best in space. He’s getting hit by 1 or 2 tacklers and often they are glancing blows instead of head-on collisions. That will save some wear and tear.
I’m excited to see how McCoy does in 2014. This could be another big year for him. If he’s able to string together several big years, McCoy could find himself headed to Canton. He’s got the highlights. Now he needs the stats. McCoy has 5,473 career rushing yards. My guess is that he needs something like 12,000 to feel comfortable about a shot at Canton.
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Eagles fans obviously love LeSean McCoy, but do you think he is appreciated across the league as an elite player? I think every person on Earth sees Adrian Peterson as a dominant player and freak of nature. Does the average fan see McCoy as a great RB or just a guy who has some cool highlights?