Time Has Come To Recognize LeSean McCoy As A Top RB In NFL by Matt Lombardo

LeSean McCoy is on pace to break the Eagles single season rushing record, most touchdowns in a single season, most yards from scrimmage. Those numbers and his impact on the Eagles offense put him near the top of the list of the NFL’s elite.

For a long time, just a short while ago, the names of the premier running backs in the National Football League rolled off of the tongue like letters in the alphabet. Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones Drew, Michael Turner and Frank Gore. The time has come to add LeSean McCoy’s name to that list.

Because of his career body of work and otherworldy start to this season, not only does McCoy’s name belong amongst the greats in the game today, but by season’s end it could stand atop the list.

Four years ago Brian Westbrook was wrapping up his career and compiling the last of his 5,995 yards and 37 touchdowns during his eighth and final season in midnight green while sharing the load with McCoy, a second round draft choice out of Pittsburgh. It has been widely accepted, and deservedly so, that Westbrook is the greatest running back in Eagles history.

Since his rookie season, McCoy has shown plenty of reason to believe that when all is said and done, he will finish his career even above Westbrook. There’s no questioning Westbrook’s ability as a multipurpose back both with the speed to turn the corner and make linebackers and safeties fall in his wake as a receiver out of the backfield. However, his durability was always a question and so far in his career, McCoy is proving himself to be both an elite between the tackles running back, receiver out of the backfield and constantly improving blocker in the passing game.

This season McCoy is setting a torrid pace and his continued emergence is a driving force behind the Eagles offensive success and rewrite the Eagles record book in the process. McCoy is on pace to break Wilbert Montgomery’s single season rushing record (1,512)that was set in 1979, Steve Van Buren’s touchdown record (18) that was set in 1945, and Westbrook’s record for most yards from scrimmage (2,104) in 2007.

Through eight games McCoy has wracked up 754 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. Just for good measure, the Eagles feature back has 138 receiving yards and two catches through the air. McCoy is averaging a career high 5.6 yards per carry and is coming off back to back weeks posting career highs in both carries, and yards after toting the rock 29 and 30 times against the Redskins and Cowboys respectively and 185 yards rushing against Dallas.

McCoy’s performance against the Cowboys earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors for week 8.

“He makes things a lot easier,” Vick said of McCoy’s impact on the offense. “My job is a totally different instinct than what he has to do. Just handing the ball off to him and the things that he does, he does them very well. He definitely makes our job as an offense easier.”

When comparing McCoy to other top backs in the league, his numbers put him at the top of the list. He leads the league in first downs gained with 58, 48 of them coming on the ground. Peterson is second with 45, and the Vikings have yet to have their bye week. McCoy also leads the league in runs of ten yards or more.

Simply put, he moves the chains and keeps momentum going for an offense that ranks tops in the league in rushing.

In addition to putting up yards, McCoy is also turning into a prolific scorer. Among non-kickers, McCoy ranks second along with Peterson behind only Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in scoring with 60 points.

“Right now, he’s playing as well as any running back there is,” Andy Reid said. “That is a compliment to him and the guys blocking for him. LeSean is tough to bring down one-on-one. He has tremendous quickness and lateral mobility.”

One thing to also keep in mind when judging the top backs in the league is the impact they have on their teams. The Eagles are 5-1 in games where McCoy touches the ball 20 or more times per game. Compare that to Vick’s 0-9-1 career record when he throws over 40 passes, with three of those losses coming in Philadelphia and you see when this offense is truly at it’s best.

It appears that in recent weeks that Reid has seen the light in the weapon he has in McCoy, and the results have shown on offense. While it’s hard to shake long time thoughts and tendencies the numbers, his body type and career accomplishments put McCoy near the top of the list of elite backs in the league.

Matt Lombardo is the Philadelphia Eagles beat  reporter and host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL or by Email at MDLombardo@yahoo.com

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