Think of the Philadelphia Eagles' offense, and the first name that comes to mind is that of quarterback Michael Vick, the most athletic quarterback in the league who has moved past his off-the-field troubles of a few years ago and solidified his stature as perhaps the National Football League's most dangerous weapon. After that, the names most likely to spring to mind are those of receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, or even tight end Brent Celek.
There are many outside of Philadelphia, however, who can't name the Eagles' starting running back. But LeSean McCoy is spare part trying to cling to a job in the NFL. McCoy is fourth in the NFC and seventh in the NFL with 569 rushing yards on 105 carries, averaging 94.8 yards per game. His last time out, two weeks ago (before the Eagles' bye week) against the Washington Redskins, McCoy ran 28 times for 126 yards, his third game this season and the sixth in his brief (McCoy is in his third NFL season) career in which he eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark. He also trails only Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson among non-kickers in scoring; Johnson has scored 60 points, while McCoy has 48.
But his touchdowns do not mean McCoy is some kind of a short-yardage specialist. He leads the NFL with 23 carries of 10 or more rushing yards; since the start of the 2010 season, he is second in the league with 51 such runs. Not only that, but he also has racked up 2,364 yards of total offense since the start of the 2010 season, the third-highest total among NFC running backs and the sixth-highest total during that time of all players in the league.
But when the subject of the NFL's elite running backs is brought up, how often is McCoy's name mentioned alongside the likes of Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, Arian Foster or Ray Rice?
Dallas cornerback Alan Ball said that while McCoy might be something of an afterthought to the casual fan, the Cowboys are well aware of McCoy's ability.
"I don't know that he's underappreciated, but he doesn't get the attention he deserves," Ball said. "Around the league, people know what kind of player he is.
"The problem he has is that the players around him are such big-play guys. Michael Vick is a threat to do something amazing at any time. DeSean Jackson can get deep on any team if the defense isn't playing the right technique. (Jeremy) Maclin is a pretty complete receiver who can make a lot of plays in a lot of ways."
McCoy might be surrounded by electric playmakers, but Ball said McCoy is just as potent a weapon as some of his more celebrated teammates.
"LeSean is a big-play guy who can pick up yards in a hurry, 15 or 20 yards at a time," Ball said. "When you face the Eagles, you have to have a plan for him, too, or he'll make you pay.
"We know how good he is. He's a big part of our defensive game plan."
The Real McCoy
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