Imagine the career of an NFL running back. Drafted at age 20-22. Practice/workouts six days a week. Hammered 20times on the seventh day. Out of the league by age 33.
The Eagles may not have LeSean “Shady” McCoy for much longer. Another decade and we may see him announcing a second round draft pick, retired after living the full life of a running back. The more extra carries he receives, the faster we will see him limp out of the NovaCare Complex one last time, favoring only serviceable knee.
McCoy averages 21 touches per game, which is fourth in the league. He ranks eighth in the league in carries, and clearly is focused on enough. On a screen play in the game against Dallas, McCoy innocently caught the ball, and then was clobbered by a Cowboy. Picture said occurrence 16 times a year.
Any significant increase in touches would cause serious health issues to arise. If McCoy keeps taking blow after blow, how will he possibly remain on the field through an entire season? Even if he were to remain healthy and play through pain, he would receive serious long term health risks by getting 28-30 touches for a 16-game season.
An option is to allow Bryce Brown to sustain playing time for full series. Similar to basketball substitutions, Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid could take McCoy out, say to start the second quarter, and put Brown in for a series. Subsequently, in the middle of the third quarter Reid could do the same.
Another possibility is to up his touches by one or two and feed him the ball in the red zone. Last week, Dallas QB Tony Romo hit Felix Jones with a simple swing pass. Jones then slipped and spun and scampered his way into the end zone–how he managed that is another story–and the Cowboys had tied the game.
Felix, stinking, Jones.
If he can create a touchdown like that, why do the Eagles not counter with McCoy? Defenses often blitz in the red zone, and QBs have limited time to throw. By using McCoy on similar swing passes, the blitz can be beat as fewer players will be back to tackle McCoy. Once the pass is caught, the talents of McCoy will exert themselves and he will dance in the end zone. Even by handing him the ball for excess rushing attempts in the red zone, he has the ability to make people miss the way only Barry Sanders could. This is a way to use him more effectively, not just more.
Essentially, this game tomorrow is the lifesaver for the Eagles season. No matter the result at 4:30 PM in Washington, this debate will rage on. If the Eagles gel, they can win games. They can win playoff games. They can win championships. The amount of touches one player gets does not decide who hoists the Lombardi Trophy.
McCoy can lead the team with his current amount of touches, and the offense can win with such. Giving him more carries and leaving him susceptible to more hits will not save the season.
This offense already plays shady, very shady. Now its time to gel and play shady together.