McCoy keeps Eagles moving
In a season in which the Philadelphia Eagles have overcome self-inflicted wounds to manufacture a 3-1 start, former Pitt running back LeSean McCoy continues to establish himself as perhaps the most versatile running back in the NFL.
While quarterback Michael Vick was impatient and aimless in tossing six interceptions over the first two games, McCoy almost single-handedly kept the wheels on the wagon. He energized the ground game and bailed out an oft-hurried Vick in the passing game.
McCoy has squeezed out 384 yards on 81 carries and has 14 receptions. Beyond the numbers, however, he impacts a potentially explosive offense, partly because he's consistently effective both running and receiving, which prevents defenses from targeting the elusive Vick and receiver DeSean Jackson.
“I'm a big believer in good teams find ways to win and bad teams find ways to lose,” McCoy said. “Last year some of these tough games we would have lost. There's a difference, and we're a little more focused this year.”
More importantly, the Eagles enter Sunday's against the Steelers at Heinz Field atop the NFC East mostly because McCoy has performed like a quarter-miler who gathers a second wind over the final 100 meters. He has been at his best in the second half, including a strong finishing kick in the Eagles' 19-17 victory over the New York Giants last week.
In the past, the Eagles would abandon the ground game if it was stuck in neutral. Now, McCoy has been tasked with spearheading a punishing ground game down the stretch.
“We've been sticking with it. The guys up front are blocking very well and giving me some creases to run through and given me one-on-one opportunities with the defenders,” said McCoy, the league's third-leading rusher. “We've just been rolling. I think so far we've been very productive offensively, especially in the running game.
“Sometimes I get so carried away with trying to make yards and plays on my own instead of just sticking with the runs. The offensive line opens up some great holes, and I have to be patient and let things develop for me.”
The Steelers are expected to have linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu in the lineup. They'll be back just in time, considering Oakland's Darren McFadden gutted them for 113 yards — including a 64-yard touchdown run — in the Raiders' 34-31 upset victory two weeks ago.
“Everything you read about the Steelers being physical, you see it on tape,” McCoy said. “It doesn't help that they lost Harrison and Polamalu, two of the best players in the league. I am sure they will be fine when they get those guys back.”
Harrison has seen enough film to know the Eagles have a different mindset than the team that failed to recover from an uneven start last season. He knows, too, they have a running back who is eager to run wild in his return to a field where became one of the Panthers' most prolific runners.
“(McCoy) is one of the most dangerous runner and receivers out of the backfield,” Harrison said. “I don't feel like they are leaning on one more than the other.
“I don't seeing them shying away from anything they plan to do. The more they run, they more they succeed at it. We expect them to run the entire game.”
McCoy grinds out the tough yards between tackles. But his ability to make something out of nothing is what gets the Steelers' attention.
“He works best when he can change directions,” defensive end Ziggy Hood said. “We have to make sure we contain him on both sides.
“We have to get everyone to the ball. He can always turn a busted play into something positive.”
McCoy has been especially effective with screen passes. But what concerns the Steelers is how McCoy ripped off big gains when the Giants failed to seal the boundaries on stretch plays and sweeps, particularly in the second half.
For McCoy, it was a matter of finding his groove.
He said the more touches he gets the more comfortable he gets. He figures out the defense's weakness, then exploits it.
“Some teams don't need to run it that much for their guys to get comfortable,” McCoy said. “I'm one of those guys where I don't need 100 carries to get warmed up.
“I've been in this offense so long that I'm used to it. That's how we work. I think every back and every team is different.”
Ralph N. Paulk is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7923.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers offensive line targeting injury-free performance as key
- Steelers’ Heyward looking to stay for long haul
- Former Steelers kicker Reed doesn’t like new NFL PAT rule
- Steelers claim QB-turned-WR Gardner
- Steelers guard Foster likes offense’s direction heading into season
- Former Steelers linebacker Robinson dies
- Steelers’ Lemon hopes to put squeeze on opposing QBs
- NFL moves PAT back to 15-yard line
- Steelers gamble Chickillo can make transition to outside linebacker
- Steelers sign 3rd-round choice Coates
- Starkey: Clayton, Steelers and ‘Shouldergate’