Questionable playcalling again plagues Eagles
No one stops LeSean McCoy better than his coaching staff.
McCoy has developed into one of the NFL's top running backs in his third season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He's second in yards rushing (906), tied for first in touchdowns rushing (10) and is first in TDs overall (12).
Most impressive is the fact he's doing it on a team that loves to pass.
The struggling Eagles (3-6) might be playing for first place when they visit the NFC East-leading New York Giants (6-3) on Sunday if McCoy would've only touched the ball more, especially in the fourth quarter.
In last Sunday's 21-17 loss to Arizona, McCoy got two carries in the final quarter. He got just two carries in the fourth quarter in a 30-24 loss to Chicago the previous game.
The Eagles blew leads against both teams and have now lost five games in which they led in the fourth quarter, including four at home.
McCoy, by the way, is averaging a league-best 7.1 yards per carry in the last 15 minutes.
The decision not to give McCoy the ball against the Cardinals was perplexing for several reasons. Star wide receiver DeSean Jackson was deactivated for missing a meeting, leading receiver Jeremy Maclin was injured and Michael Vick was off target.
Yet after a 29-yard run to the Cardinals 22 with the Eagles up 14-7 and 4:46 left in the third quarter, McCoy got the ball twice the rest of the game.
''Certainly could've gotten it to him more,'' offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Thursday. ''They played a bunch of one-on-ones. We had plenty of opportunities there. Not to sound defensive, we had some possibilities there.''
Mornhinweg went on to say: ''There wasn't quite as many opportunities there in the fourth quarter.''
In actuality, there was.
Nursing that 7-point lead early in the fourth, the Eagles had a first down at their 42 after a 14-yard scramble by Vick and an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Sounds like a perfect time to run the ball, work the clock and protect a lead.
The next play was a 2-yard pass. Then two straight incomplete passes and a punt. The Cardinals drove 89 yards for the tying score.
Philadelphia began the next drive at its 20. Three more passes and a punt.
''We're going to do what we think is best to win the game, and that's how we're going to go about it,'' coach Andy Reid said. ''That was just the choice we made.''
The Eagles have always had a pass-first offense under Reid. But through Week 8, they had the league's No. 1 rushing attack with an average of 179.9 yards per game on the ground.
After a 1-4 start threatened to ruin a season that began with Super Bowl aspirations, the Eagles won consecutive games over Washington and Dallas. Not coincidentally, McCoy played a big role.
He had 126 yards rushing and one score on 28 carries in a 20-13 win over the Redskins on Oct. 16. He followed that up with 185 yards rushing and two TDs on 30 carries in a dominating 34-7 win against Dallas on Oct. 30.
It seemed Philadelphia had turned things around. The Eagles were 3-4 and in the mix in a jumbled NFC East.
Now they're all-but-mathematically out of contention.
McCoy had 16 carries for 71 yards against the Bears and 14 carries for 81 yards against the Cardinals. He's scored a touchdown in every game this season, which is the longest streak in team history.
In Philadelphia's three wins, McCoy has averaged 144.3 yards rushing on 24.3 carries. In the six losses, he's averaged 78.8 yards rushing on only 15.3 carries.
Despite his success, McCoy won't complain about not getting the ball enough.
''I am never going to judge the calls,'' he said.
Maybe he should.