LeSean McCoy was the 2013 NFL rushing leader, and he is the most dangerous running back heading into the 2014 season.
For the second time in three years, McCoy won the FedEx Ground Player of the Year Award. He rushed for 1,607 yards on 314 carries for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. He also found the end zone 9 times.
McCoy has blossomed since entering the league in 2009. He played behind Brian Westbrook during his rookie year and then replaced Westbrook the following season.
The initial knock on McCoy was that he had the quickness and explosiveness to be a serviceable running back in the NFL, but lacked the size and strength necessary to maintain longevity as a halfback, a position that endures a physical beating on every offensive play. McCoy put the critiques to rest in 2010, rushing for 1,080 yards and displaying signs of a renewed “Shady” McCoy. McCoy bulked up and was a balanced runner, displaying both speed and physical toughness.
However, once Michael Vick became the starting quarterback and focal point of Andy Reid’s offense, McCoy was asked to do less. Red zone plays were often designed for Vick, whether it was a standard passing play or a designed draw or rollout, rather than pounding the ball into the end zone with McCoy.
In 2012, McCoy failed to rush for 1,000 yards for the first time in since his rookie season.
Then, Chip Kelly came along.
This was a match made in heaven. A tailback with shiftiness and field vision like McCoy’s played perfectly into what Chip Kelly prefers to do as an offensive-minded coach.
Shady McCoy, more than any other halfback in the league, embarrasses tacklers. McCoy is the type of player that linebackers think they have in their grasps, but before they know it, are grabbing at nothing more than air.
McCoy is a walking “Sportscenter top 10-play nominee”. He is a human joystick that brings the unrealistically successful Madden juke move to life.
Adrian Peterson is widely regarded as the best running back in football. But Peterson underwent yet another surgery, this one on his groin, and is suffering the effects of being a bruising runner on an offense that has no passing game to relieve him.
McCoy is heading into the 2014 season with everything going his way. He has an offense that is dynamic enough to prevent opposing defenses from zeroing in on him. He does not withstand the physical toll that Peterson does, due to his Barry Sanders-like elusiveness, and will also have had a full year under his belt of playing in the Chip Kelly offense with Nick Foles at quarterback.
Predicting a 2,000-yard season for McCoy in 2014 would be putting myself in CJ2K territory, one that involves impractical expectations and making outlandish statements, should he flounder and not come anywhere close. To forecast such a season for McCoy would be ignorant and naïve of me, but then again, Shady McCoy is hitting the prime of his career and is showing no signs of slowing down.