Can Shady McCoy Get Better?

Posted: July 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 25 Comments »

LeSean McCoy had a brilliant year in 2011.  Let’s go back and take another look at his numbers, to make sure we remember just how good he was.

273 – 1,309 – 4.8 ypc – 17 TDs

Those are beyond impressive.  17 TDs?  That’s the kind of stuff we used to see Emmitt Smith do.  Brian Westbrook never had more than 9 rushing TDs in a season.  Heck, he only had 41 for his career.  Shady almost got halfway there in one year.

You want to really freak out?  Duce Staley only had 24 rushing TDs in his entire career.  Shady already has 28.  Duce never had more than 5 in a season.  And you can’t say it was lack of touches.  He had 3 years with 250 or more carries.  You have to go back to Ricky Watters in 1996 to find an Eagles RB anywhere close.  He had 13 TDs that year, but he did get 80 more carries.

Set aside TDs and let’s look at the other numbers in comparison to Westy’s best year.

2011 – Shady – 273 – 1,309 – 4.8 ypc

2007 – Westy – 278 – 1,333 – 4.8 ypc

Pretty crazy how similar the numbers are.  Beyond them, Shady was better.  He had more 1st downs (84 to 73), more runs of 20+ yards (14 to 11), and more runs of 40+ yards (2 to none). All this and Shady is still just 23 (his birthday is on Thursday, BTW).

Shady is still a young player and learning the game.  Westy had his best year at age 28, as a mature veteran.  He also had the benefit of playing behind a very good run blocking OL.  Tra was the weak spot at LT.  Then you had Todd-Jamaal-Shawn-Runyan.  And that was when Shawn Andrews was dominant.

So how can Shady improve?

The biggest issue for me is knowing when to cut back and when to hit the hole.  Think back to the early Giants loss.  Andy Reid went for it on 4th/1 when we had the lead in the early 4th Qtr.  The ball was at midfield.  Andy wanted to keep the ball and go score again, hopefully to put the game away.  Understandable.  Still the wrong decision.  The Giants offense was struggling, aside from big plays.  The smart move was to punt, pin them deep, and play defense.

Andy fed the ball to McCoy instead and he was tackled for a loss.  The Giants came to life, scored on a short field, and won going away.  Ugh.

While I didn’t like Andy’s call, Shady was equally at fault.  He made the mistake of thinking generally and not situationally.  On 4th/1 in the 4th Qtr of a tight game, the focus must be on the one yard.  A long TD run is irrelevant.  You must get the yard.

Shady got the handoff and started upfield, then tried to use a cutback move.  The Giants had been burned by this all game long and had DBs coming off the edge to box him in.  Shady was stuffed for a loss.  He might not have gotten the yard even if he flew upfield directly, but he at least had a chance.  There was no chance to go outside.

Shady’s best asset as a runner is his lateral agility.  He makes dynamic moves and cuts, going sideways at full speed.  He must be allowed to be a cutback runner.  No one would want to change that part of his game.  The point is that he must know that in certain situations there should be no option…just go straight ahead.  Bill Parcells calls this “trusting the play”.

While this sounds simple enough, Shady’s instincts are to avoid defenders and run to daylight.  That works brilliantly most of the time.  If Shady wants to take the next step, he must learn to trust the play in certain situations and just focus on getting the yard.

Barry Sanders never could do this.  That’s why the Lions would use someone else near the goal line and in some short yardage situations.  As great as he was, Barry’s career high in rushing TDs was 16.  A lot of his scoring runs came from further out.

Shady is like Sanders in many ways.  Let’s hope this is one area where they turn out differently.  The fact that Shady did score 17 TDs last year, more than a couple from in close, offers us hope that he can be a better situational runner.

Outside of running the ball, Shady has plenty to work on.  His pass protection is good, but needs to be more consistent.  There are times when he will aggressively take on a rusher and do his job well.  There are other plays when Shady is hesitant or looks confused and he’s a speed bump for someone on the way to the QB.

Can’t have that.  He needs to consistently choose the correct target, get into position, and then execute the block well.  This protects the QB and will help cut down on turnovers.  Being okay isn’t acceptable.  Pass protection is too important.

Shady also needs to get better as a receiver.  He’s outstanding on screen passes, but needs to get better as a general receiver.  It isn’t fair to hold him to Westy’s standard here.  Westy was like an extra WR.  Still, one of the reasons the Eagles liked Shady so much heading into the draft was for his pass catching skills.  We haven’t seen nearly enough of that.

Shady is already a special player.  It should be exciting to see just how good he can be if he’s able to make progress and work on these areas.  He’s one of the few players where the saying “the sky is the limit” is genuinely true.

* * * * *

Shocking news…Sheil Kapadia is leaving us.  No news of what’s going on.  He made Moving The Chains an invaluable blog.  It truly was “must read material”.

Follow him on Twitter to stay in touch and keep up with him.  He did mention that he’ll be writing about football, but offered no insight as to where.  Hopefully we’ll be able to follow him in his new gig.

Good luck Sheil.

UPDATE:  Good news.  Sheil and Tim McManus are going to run an Eagles blog for Philly Mag.  Should become a prime source for information.


25 Comments on “Can Shady McCoy Get Better?”

  1. 1 izzylangfan said at 12:35 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Very sad about Sheil. Before today my fear was that they would promote him to columnist and he would start writing the pontificating useless crap that the other columnists put out most of the time. Not that he did anything to deserve my forebodings but I always figured that the other columnists used to be good as well (though probably not nearly as good as Sheil). MTC and Igglesblitz have been the two best columns and sources of Eagles info out there. I hope that he surfaces someplace were he will still be writing extensively about the Eagles. In any case I wish him well. He did an extraordinary job for us.

  2. 2 Jamie Parker said at 1:26 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Guess we know what Sheil was doing on his vacation…

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 1:33 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    I’ve got an update on Sheil. He’s going into the Witness Protection Program as part of the Dion Lewis case. Dion has everyone running for cover. Might be the reason Banner and Mrs. Lurie are exiting as well. Dion is out of control!!!

  4. 4 ATLeagle said at 2:33 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Shady has already improved on reducing the urge to cut too much on every play, and I only hope he gets better at it. His first year was horribly frustrating in that he went for more than 3 yards +/- every time. He never had the ability when a play was defended well to just hit the hole and hope for the best, even if that was just returning to the LOS or maybe getting a yard. I hated watching 2nd and 3 turn into 3rd and 7 so consistently. My bartender made the exact same Barry Sanders connection, and I remember hoping that Shady got that good… now I think he is much better.

  5. 5 33 said at 10:32 AM on July 11th, 2012:

    Shady is a rare beast for sure. I love watching him run, and I for one am willing to take my lumps with him and his potential game breaking (and morale breaking) TD scrambles. I do hope another RB emerges to spell him for a bit during games to give us reliable production.

    I also hope that our passing game can get more consistent on dink and dunk ball to Avant and our TE squad.

  6. 6 deg0ey said at 3:13 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    “Pretty crazy how similar the numbers are. Beyond them, Shady was better. He had more 1st downs (84 to 73), more runs of 20+ yards (14 to 11), and more runs of 40+ yards (2 to none). ”

    The thing to bear in mind about these numbers is that the latter two don’t necessarily make Shady better. We already know that both players averaged 4.8ypc, therefore if McCoy made more long runs, that also means he made more that were short or lost yards in order to balance out the numbers.

    Would you rather have a guy that made 5 yards every time he carried the ball or one that made 20 yards on 1/4 of his carries and got stopped at the line the rest of the time? The average would be the same and the second guy would look better in the statistical categories you mention here, but I think most fans would rather the former, right?

    I’m obviously not trying to say that either of those hypothetical examples would be an accurate description of either Westbrook or Shady, just that it’s worth being careful before pointing to runs of 20+/40+ yards as a measure of a player being better than another.

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 4:27 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Fair point.

    I do think some lost yards were also due to Kelce, Watkins/DeVan, Evan, and Todd. Lots of new guys and some in new positions. You know they missed some blocks due to confusion.

  8. 8 Mac said at 3:27 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    No way I want my glass cannon putting his nose down and battling the big uglies for a single yard… NO WAY!

    Let Shady do his thing, get some other guy to do the dirty work. I don’t care about insane TD totals as far as I’m concerned let Shady be like Rice in Balt. Protect your MVP.

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 4:28 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    I’m fine with using a different RB in short yardage. Point is…if you play Shady, he’s got to fight for the 1 yard rather than going for 10.

  10. 10 T_S_O_P said at 5:17 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    And he is so good at the goal-line, there is no reason he shouldn’t be.

  11. 11 Anders said at 3:46 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Tommy, 3 things. First im unable to see the comments on my android phone using opera mobile.
    Second, I think McCoy will improve as a receiver this year because he got the time this offseason to focus more on it.
    Third, With all the talk about Josh Gordon, it got me thinking if you think Maclin could be a good slot receiver in the mold of Cruz/Colston. For me he seems like he got great quickness and he seems to be very strong on bubble screens etc.

  12. 12 TommyLawlor said at 4:29 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    I’ll look into the comments thing.

    Maclin should be a natural slot, but he’s never seemed very comfortable over the middle. If he isn’t, then you can’t put him there.

  13. 13 Anders said at 5:20 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    I just remember he had no problems with that in college, so you have any idea why a player like him suddenly does not feel comfortable (Also how can a player like Maclin lose his touch for returning punts and KO)

  14. 14 TommyLawlor said at 6:02 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Mac’s issues as a RS shock me. He was electric in college. He’s mediocre (at best) in the NFL. Baffling.

  15. 15 SebastianAubrey said at 9:40 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    He played in the big 12 aka the no defense league

  16. 16 goeagles55 said at 4:18 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    They are downsizing at Their offices just combined at a new location yesterday, Don Mckee (Inquirer writer) left on Sunday, and now Sheil.

  17. 17 TommyLawlor said at 4:30 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Sheil might be heading elsewhere for a different reason. Let’s hope something good comes of it.

  18. 18 Cliff said at 4:37 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Tommy, buddy, I paid for my “copy” of Eagles Almanac and never got an e-mail with the link to download the PDF or anything. Can you have one of your interns work on this in between refilling the pudding bath and cold-calling Megan Fox?

  19. 19 TommyLawlor said at 4:53 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Send me an email at: Use the @ in the real address.

  20. 20 TommyLawlor said at 4:48 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Sheil isn’t going away. New Philly gig:

  21. 21 TommyLawlor said at 4:56 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    AC Viking…

    Can you please send me an email so I’ll have your address. Use: to get in touch with me. Much appreciated.

  22. 22 pkeagle said at 5:39 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    Hey Tommy,

    Do you know of any other players in the supplimental draft (apart from Gordon) who might be targets? If so, what round would you be willing to give up for them?


  23. 23 P_P_K said at 9:41 PM on July 10th, 2012:

    About half way through last season my buddies and I started debating Shady vs. Westy. Now we are comparing LeSean to Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders. Heavy company. The realist in me wants to wait a couple of years. The fan in me is imagining an Eagle — an Eagle! — having the most rushing yards in the league. I don’t think even John Lennon could have imagined such a thing.

    One thing that concerned me his rookie year was the manner in which he carried the ball. He swung it around like he was still at Pitt. If I remember, he corrected and carried the ball much safer this past year. Didn’t he only fumble a couple of times?

  24. 24 A_T_G said at 12:04 AM on July 11th, 2012:

    He didn’t seem to correct it much to me. On the other hand, I believe he only fumbled once. I guess he covers it up when he needs to.

  25. 25 austinfan said at 9:29 AM on July 11th, 2012:

    I’d withhold the HOF slot for Shady for a couple more years.

    1) he was below average as a pass blocker last year, PFF had him as one of the worst in the league, and in this case I think they’re on the money, really poor job in 2011, as if PETA was giving him a bounty for hits on Vick.

    2) he’s never shown “it” as a receiver, this is a guy who should be murder in open space, but either he doesn’t click with Vick or he’s not smoothly transitioning to RB after the catch. A lot more drops in 2011 than 2010 as well.

    3) His YPC really fell off down the stretch, last 5 games:
    85 290 3.4 7
    14 117 8.4 1
    Not sure if he wore down or opposing DCs were figuring out his tendencies.

    This is why greatness requires the drive to work on your weaknesses, improve as a blocker and receiver, and learn when teams are waiting for the cutback and go north-south. There is room for improvement, and Shady’s willingness to pay the price will determine if he has a good or great career (that and staying healthy).