LeSean McCoy set to gain ‘elite’ status in Chip Kelly’s offense

Sep 9, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs with the ball against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs with the ball against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s a common misconception of the ethos of Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles–one we’ve touched on before here at FanSided. When people think of the tempo and of the spread, they assume it’s an offense based on slinging the football all over the yard. It’s as if people get the impression that with Bud Kilmer gone, Chip Kelly and the rest of the Varsity Blues boys are running the Oop-Dee-Oop.

However, the reality of Chip Kelly’s offense, both in its current machination and as it was when he was with the Oregon Ducks, is that it is a spread to run attack. And it’s one that is about to make Eagles running back LeSean McCoy take the leap into “elite” status, both in the world of fantasy football and reality football.

McCoy already qualifies in the electrifying category. He averages 4.7 yards per carry for his career, and in 2011 he made the Pro Bowl after a 1,300-yard season with 17 rushing touchdowns.

However, he has been plagued by inconsistency.

That all is about to change under Chip Kelly, provided the talented 25-year old can stay healthy, which, if we’re being honest, has been a minor issue for McCoy.

That being said, LeSean McCoy is tailored to this offense, and through two weeks he’s on pace to have a career year.

In Week One, McCoy toted the football 31 times as the Eagles spread the field and exploited matchups to the tune of 53 plays and over 300 yards of total offense in the first half. LeSean McCoy gashed the Washington Redskins at every possible convenience, racking up 184 yards and a touchdown en route to an Eagles victory that announced Chip Kelly’s cold, calculated intentions to the world.

And, while Michael Vick is throwing for over 315 yards per game, the message is still quite clear. Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are going to exploit matchups in every possible fashion, and they’re going to impose their will on their opponents using LeSean McCoy as their conduit.

In Week Two, during a back and forth affair with the San Diego Chargers, McCoy saw his carry totals plummet to 11 with Philadelphia choosing instead to exploit a weak Chargers secondary to the tune of 428 yards through the air. But still, LeSean McCoy made his presence known, catching five passes out of the backfield for 114 yards to go along with his 53 yards on the ground.

Even in a week where the gameplan dictated that McCoy become a less integral part of the offense, he still was able to make his presence felt. Which, of course, is a pretty great indicator for LeSean McCoy fantasy owners and genuine Eagles fans alike.

McCoy is an explosive back who operates best in space, but even when he’s being forced to work inside the tackles on inside zones and reads, Kelly’s offense is perfect for a gashy little back. Just ask LaMichael James.

James ran for 5,083 yards and 53 touchdowns during just three seasons in Oregon and James was all of 5-9 and 180 lbs. However, he was able to make tacklers miss, and in a Chip Kelly offense that creates soft defensive fronts, that opens the doors for plenty of chunk yardage, which is why Oregon’s offense routinely found themselves at the top of the statistical rankings in 10+ yard runs.

LeSean McCoy has a bit more oomph than James at a listed 215 lbs. but he is a similar back in the sense that he’s built to rip off big gains. Through the first couple weeks of 2013, he’s already tallied seven runs of 10 yards or more.

Couple that with McCoy’s ability to make an impact in the receiving game from the backfield–he’s averaged more than 57 catches a year through his first four season–and you’ve got a back who found the offense he was made for. A back who can make people miss in space (case in point, he’s on pace to force 136 missed tackles this year, a category Adrian Peterson led the NFL in 2012 with 73), but doesn’t disappear when the situation dictates they throw the football.

That’s why LeSean McCoy, whom we already consider among the league’s most electrifying, is set to make the leap from good to elite. How high he can actually climb may depend upon health, but with numbers we’ve already seen him produce coupled with the numbers we’ve seen Chip Kelly running backs produce, there’s really no telling how high his ceiling is.

I’m guessing the only person happier than LeSean McCoy is Chip Kelly. It’s the back he dreamed up for his system, even when we were all convincing ourselves that he was dreaming up the Oop-Dee-Oop.