By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—When all the balloting for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award is finally tabulated, it will probably be either Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning or perhaps even Tom Brady of the New England Patriots taking home the trophy as the league’s best player.
Meanwhile in the City of Brotherly Love, there’s a certain running back that is having a career year and would be in serious contention for league MVP honors if it weren’t for the outstanding years of the two aforementioned superstar signal-callers. Considering his accomplishments this season, you would have to put LeSean “Shady” McCoy in the conversation.
“I’ll put him in it, I’ll vote for (McCoy),” said Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. “I don’t know who at running back is playing better than him. You got your quarterbacks, but I’ll vote him in as MVP this year.”
Suffice it to say, McCoy is not just having a good year, he’s having a career year. In week, he’s leading the NFL in rushing with 1,305 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging five yards per carry.
“I think he’s playing better than any running back in the NFL right now,” said Eagles center Jason Kelce.
McCoy will far exceed the 1,309 yards he gained last season and was the first back in the NFL to gain 1,000 yards this season. In fact, he is 208 yards away from breaking the Eagles single-season rushing record currently held by legendary Birds running back Wilbert Montgomery, who rushed for 1,512 yards in 1979.
“I’ve met him, he’s a cool guy and knows tons about football,” McCoy said. “That would be something big to break his record.”
Not only is he the game’s leading rusher this season, McCoy is also leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,744. To top it all off, Shady also has 40 receptions for 439 yards in the passing game.
Undoubtedly, McCoy’s best performance of this season came during last Sunday’s blizzard at Lincoln Financial Field where he stormed through the Detroit Lions defense for a team-record and career-best 217 yards. He scored on two long, spectacular touchdown runs in the fourth quarter that shifted the momentum of the game to the Eagles for good.
“When you watch the film, you know he’s an explosive runner, he’s talented, he can do a lot of things on his own,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “He can make a lot of people miss. He’s probably as good as there is in the league at making people miss in the open field. I was excited when I got here to get a chance to work with him.”
McCoy’s performance last week was compelling enough to have his jersey, cleats and gloves sent to Canton, Ohio to be on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the second Eagles player this season to receive such an honor. That other jersey on display was that of quarterback Nick Foles for his seven-touchdown performance last month against the Oakland Raiders.
“That’s something special, something that my son can see and like and look up to, give him a challenge to make it there,” McCoy said.
If you don’t think McCoy is good enough to warrant MVP consideration, you have to say that he’s one of the league’s best running backs. The numbers this season certainly say it, especially when you consider that he has more yards than guys like Minnesota Vikings ball carrier Adrian Peterson, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles, Chicago’s Matt Forte and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
“I definitely think I’m in the top five or the top three,” McCoy said. “That’s what I feel like. They’re a lot of different guys.”
McCoy said while he has a lot in common with some of the league’s best backs, he believes that there are some things that set him apart from those other backs.
“I watch myself on tape and I would say vision, I’m very elusive,” McCoy said. “I’m a long distance guy and just hard to tackle.”
With his shifty side-to-side moves, McCoy doesn’t like the idea that some observers of the game see him only as a back with speed and good moves. He said his best runs have come attacking the heart of the defense by moving straight ahead.
“A lot people think I’m a side-to-side guy, but if you really watch me that’s really not me,” McCoy said. “All of my best plays are up the middle.”
All of the attention surrounding Foles’ rise to prominence with his outstanding play has slightly obscured what McCoy has done this season. You might even argue that McCoy is not even the MVP on his team considering how well Foles has played this season.
If there’s one thing that could possibly put McCoy in the conversation for MVP, the Eagles (8-5) have to keep winning. The first-place Birds seem to have a clear path to the NFC East crown with three games left including this Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. They are one game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
“He’s playing really well. I hope he gets it,” said Eagles tight end Brent Celek. “Our goal is to win games and whatever happens, happens.”