Now the chances that a player not named Peyton Manning wins the MVP are about as good as Gary Kubiak’s chances of winning coach of the year, but if there is a player worthy of such consideration it should be Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy is set to have the best season of his career and has been the heart and soul of an Eagles team that has already doubled their win total from a year ago.
Heading into week 15, McCoy leads all running backs and receivers with 1,744 yards from scrimmage, a full 122 yards ahead of his next closest contender (Jamaal Charles). He leads the NFL in rushing yards with 1,305, and is 7th among running backs in receiving yards. He leads all running backs in both yards per carry and yards per catch, and has just been the ultimate play-maker for the Eagles this season. McCoy’s average of 5 yards per carry is all the more impressive considering he is second in rushing attempts this season. Typically backs who end the year averaging 5 yards or more per carry have fewer than 250 rushing attempts. McCoy’s career high in yards per rushing attempt is 5.2 back in 2010, but he had just 207 carries that year. His 11 yards per catch are more than 3 yards higher than his previous high in yards per catch.
Despite over 300 touches already, McCoy has only put the ball on the ground one time so far this season. The reduction in turnovers has been key for McCoy and the Eagles this season, as this was a concern heading into the year. Last season in just 12 games and 250 touches McCoy had 4 fumbles, but has improved this year which was a mandate from new coach Chip Kelly. By protecting the football and being a major weapon on this team, McCoy has had a lot to do with the Eagles turnaround this season. The Eagles offense is built to run the football, and McCoy is answering the call giving them elite production, but he’s also protecting the football and helping the Eagles protect leads.
One semi-knock on McCoy’s chances to unseat Peyton Manning is his lack of touchdowns on the season. McCoy has 8 combined TD’s on the year so far, which doesn’t seem that impressive but it is tied for 8th in the NFL among all running backs and receivers. McCoy might not have as many touchdowns as some of the other top backs, but he’s not exactly lacking in this area.
For as much as McCoy has a strong case based on pure numbers, what really separates him from the pack is what you can’t necessarily see on the stat sheet. What it comes down to for McCoy is the threat that he represents on offense and what it means to the rest of the team. Not to take anything away from some of the Eagles other top players, but LeSean McCoy is clearly the top star on the Eagles. No one else is making as much of an impact as McCoy and no one else causes the number of headaches for opposing defensive coordinators. His presence on the field just opens up so many things for the rest of the offense, and has helped make the transition of 2nd year quarterback Nick Foles that much more smooth. He is a perfect fit for this spread run first, up tempo rushing attack and is at the center of this turnaround for the Eagles this season.
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If you looked around the league at all the likely playoff teams McCoy would have one of the strongest cases for his impact on his team and their success. Obviously you can point to Peyton Manning, but as we’ve seen Manning is surrounded by incredible amount of skill position talent and a strong defense to back him up. Jamaal Charles would also be in consideration, but the Chiefs were a far better team than their 2-14 performance from a year ago. They had a stout defense that has carried Chiefs to their 10 win record. McCoy doesn’t have that level of talent around him. The Eagles have a quality offensive line and a top receiver in DeSean Jackson, but they’ve had to play 3 different quarterbacks this year. They lost their number 2 receiver in training camp, putting even further pressure on McCoy for being the “guy”. Unlike Manning and Charles, the Eagles have not been blessed with an impact defense that has consistently put offense in favorable situations. That points to McCoy having the biggest individual impact on his own team out of these players.
So if McCoy has the best numbers of any runner or receiver and has had arguably the biggest individual impact of any player on a potential playoff team, it’s tough to claim that McCoy isn’t a strong candidate for the MVP award. Unfortunately, none of that is likely to matter as Manning’s numbers are pretty much off the charts and Denver’s likely to be a 1 seed. Despite the long shot for McCoy, the fact that he’s starting to get the notice and maybe a few votes is a moral victory for McCoy and this Eagles season.