Shadily Suspicious: Is Everything O.K. With the NFL’s Reigning Rushing Champ?

This season, you can’t help but thing one of two things about LeSean “Shady” McCoy.

One, every time I hear “Levon” by Elton John, I just replace it with “LeSean” and then make up other lyrics about football instead of making money. It’s great.

Two, this year he kind of is not so great at playing football. At least not as good as years previous – right? As a McCoy owner in fantasy football, the dude’s been abiding to bide his time in the backfield and do squat.

Seriously, diddly squat might be a better term for what this guy is – or is NOT – doing. He has, in standard leagues, 2, 1, and 6 in his last three games.

Not only is he a disappointment thus far on the virtual field this season, but also the actual one. Chip Kelly said Shady recused himself from the offense, letting Darren Sproles be the man on a crucial third down with just a little time left in the 4th quarter while the Eagles staved off a Rams comeback.

(The biggest thing I take from that article is that Chip Kelly is a mathematical wizard – how’d he calculate yards per carry – YPC – that fast?)

The Eagles may be thinking: is Shady worth $11.95 million against the cap?

You may be thinking: “Should I trade him while his value is still OK from the pre-season?”

There are several detractors from McCoy’s performance this season, but the biggest is the vulture in Darren Sproles.

LeSean McCoy has quadruple amount of rushing touches (94) to Darren Sproles (25), but just 101 more yards, 273 to 172.

Also, the number of carries follows last year’s pattern, where he had 98 rushes in Weeks 1-5.

However, he’s being significantly less productive with those rushes.

Last season, in the same time span, he averaged 5.1 YPC. This season, LeSean McCoy is averaging just 2.9 YPC. That’s the same mark Trent Richardson was mocked for last season in 14 games with the Indianapolis Colts. You remember that Richardson guy who lost his job to Donald Brown, don’t you?

Sproles, by comparison, is averaging 6.9 YPC, nearly 2.5-times better. He’s also vulturing goal-line carries. On the season it’s two TDs for Sproles, one for McCoy.

But Sproles’ full effect is felt in the passing game. McCoy, thought to be the multi-faceted, pass-catching Running Back which made him so elite for both the Eagles and your fantasy league, is suffering.

Sproles has seen 21 targets to McCoy’s 17 on the season. And while Sproles has caught 16 passes, just two more than McCoy, he has 129 more yards on catches.

McCoy’s mark of 4.9 yards per reception (YPR) is a career low – nearly two yards fewer than his next-lowest total, from 2011 (6.6). Last season, he posted a career-high 10.4 YPR.

Darren Sproles is besting Shady in yet another category this season with his own impressive YPR at 12.4.

But wait. There’s more. (Thanks Sham Wow! guy.)

A glimmer of hope can be found in McCoy’s portion of the Eagles’ carries. Out of a total of 130 rushes on the season McCoy accounts for 94 of them, a 73% clip.

Last year, when McCoy won the NFL’s rushing title, he toted the rock 314 times of an even total of 500, 63% of the time.

The Eagles have seen this movie before – last year to be precise – when the role of Darren Sproles was played by Bryce Brown.

A vulture in his own right, Brown ended the 2013 season with 75 carries. If the results of this season were extrapolated out as the norm, Sproles would end the season with just 80 carries. Shady was elite last year, would losing five more carries really dethrone him?

Is it the offensive line? G Evan Mathis, who started every game but one the past three years, is on IR, but designated to return, and OL Allen Barbre is out for the season. Barbre didn’t start, but it still hurts Philly’s depth.

But the O-Line has been good this year, too. Nick Foles has been sacked just 6 times on the year as opposed to a 48 total sacks allowed last year. (Extrapolated out that’s just 19.2 sacks over the year, an improvement over last season.)

The biggest reason LeSean McCoy has struggled thus far has been the Eagles’ play overall this season. They haven’t had a comfortable lead all season. No, not even that. They haven’t had a lead at all in a lot of their games.

They trailed Jacksonville 17-0 at halftime in Week One, then fell behind Indianapolis 17-6 at the half the next week. Philly followed that up with nearly losing to Washington 37-34, actually lost to San Francisco 26-21, and then had to make a serious push to fight off the charging Rams by a score of 34-28.

The fact that they haven’t had a comfortable lead all season means that Nick Foles has had to throw quite a bit more. In his first five starts last season, Foles attempted 132 passes. This season, 203. That’s a 54-percent increase in drop-backs.

The Eagles schedule doesn’t figure to get any easier, either. They travel to play the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, and surprising Dallas Cowboys. They also have to face the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks.

If it happens too much over a period of time, something becomes a trend.

Give LeSean McCoy two more weeks.

But if he still hasn’t started producing like the real McCoy, something’s shady.


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