Inspecting McCoy's Production
With LeSean McCoy off to Buffalo, the Eagles seem to believe that their scheme and excellent offensive line are big enough factors in their rushing success that McCoy was no longer worth his high salary.
While McCoy is one of the best running backs in the league, we can see where Chip Kelly is coming from. The Eagles’ offensive line has been our top-ranked run blocking unit the past two seasons. McCoy excelled behind the group in 2013 on his way to finishing the season as our highest-graded running back with a +25.7 run grade. But his performance took a hit with Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson each missing several games during the first half of last season.
When Mathis and Kelce returned from injury, McCoy was able to get to the second level more often and that opportunity helped him produce a run grade that went from –2.8 over the first eight games to +1.4 over the final eight. His average yards per carry also increased from 3.9 to 4.6 while his average yards after contact held steady.
In the tables above we have taken a look at runs where he reached the second level untouched, defined as carries with 5 or more yards gained before contact. McCoy led the league in 2013 by reaching the second level untouched nearly one-quarter of the time. Even with the decrease last season, his frequency was still well above average. However, just because he was reaching the second level often does not mean he was any more successful on those runs.
His average yards per carry were close to the league average on those attempts. McCoy picked up nearly 1,000 yards on these carries alone in 2013 and the NFL average of total rushing yards based on McCoy’s splits would be in the same vicinity.
This might give some insight into what Chip Kelly may be thinking and why he is willing to part with McCoy. The Eagles might not be able to just plug in any other back and get the same results, but Kelly may believe that the offensive line and scheme can at least mitigate some of the difference and while saving a lot of money at the same time.
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