Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy: Shady By Nature


Sep 28, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back

LeSean McCoy

(25) warms up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi

In his recent breakout game against the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles star running back LeSean McCoy returned to his All-Pro form, demonstrating the moves, the vision, and the elusiveness that have become the hallmark of this great Eagles running back.

As the Eagles offensive line returns to their normal form and performance levels, it is reasonable to assume that the Eagles vaunted running game is now fully back, and that the worries of Weeks 1 through 5, (when McCoy averaged a paltry 2.9 yards per carry) are now a thing of the past. While that may be the conventional wisdom of the Philadelphia fandom, it is not mine. There are more structural issues underlying the troubles LeSean McCoy is facing in the immediate future, and these too, will have an impact on the Philadelphia Eagles, as a whole as this season progresses.

In a recent article, I articulated why I don’t believe LeSean McCoy will be an Eagle in 2015. The value proposition for running backs in the NFL has now changed, rather dramatically. Runners are now being valued significantly lower in the NFL when compared to any time in recent memory. That’s why even the best of the incoming collegiate running backs are now being drafted outside of the first round in the NFL’s annual Draft.

Most NFL teams have now bought into the RBBC (Running Back By Committee) approach for their roster development. They are taking on the RBBC avenue not only for fiscal reasons, but also to mitigate risk against having an entire season destroyed by losing a star running back due to catastrophic injury.

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LeSean McCoy is set to count $12 million against the Philadelphia Eagles salary cap in 2015. It isn’t going to happen. And I believe LeSean McCoy already knows it. That is the reality.

So this is the new reality facing star running backs like LeSean McCoy in the NFL. Pretend for a moment that you are LeSean. What would be going through your mind right now? First and foremost McCoy is a human being, just like the rest of us. Humans generally don’t handle change very well. When confronted with changes that can significantly impact our lives, the instinct for self-preservation moves to the forefront of our consciousness. It’s called human nature. I bring this up here, in this context, because I believe the money issue must be having a deleterious effect on McCoy’s psyche. It has to. He’s only human.

Eagles offensive line woes, sure. Poor quarterback play, certainly. Always eight guys in the box, many times. But those aren’t the real worries.

” The real worry is that LeSean McCoy stands to earn money next year which he won’t receive, and he is playing now for a team that is going to cut him in 2015.”

I believe the real worry is that LeSean McCoy stands to earn money next year which he won’t receive, and he is playing now for a team that is going to cut him in 2015. And LeSean knows it.

The instinct for self-preservation should soon be in control of LeSean McCoy, and to some degree, by extension, the Philadelphia Eagles. Their star running back, the highest paid player on the team, is probably thinking more about preserving his health, and how much he can make for a new team in 2015, than making his famous cut on a dime moves for his current team. Not a very good scenario for a 5-1 team hunting for its first Super Bowl trophy. Certainly one that Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly would generally plan to avoid.

Maybe this very reason is why Coach Kelly kept only three running backs on the Eagles roster, without a developmental runner behind McCoy. He didn’t want his star running back to feel threatened that he might be replaced by a cheaper alternative next year. Too late now. That already happened when McCoy’s best friend on the team, DeSean Jackson, was shown the door earlier this year.

Now, it just may be every man for himself.

I know what you are thinking….that can’t happen in Philadelphia. Really? I’ll refer you to another star Eagles running back, Ricky Watters, who like McCoy graduated from Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, and once famously said “For Who?, For What?” Quite a coincidence.