(Photo by USA Today)
With the hoopla surrounding Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy’s potential handshake with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly not quieting down, what is being lost is whether or not McCoy will perform well. Despite the 5-7 Eagles being in a three-way tie for first place in the “NFC Least” and coming off a 35-28 victory over the New England Patriots, issues still are evident within the defense. Since the team lost starting rookie inside linebacker Jordan Hicks to a season-ending pectoral muscle injury, it has allowed 34.5 points per game, possibly creating an opportunity for McCoy to dominate against his former team.
The cliché of the former player being hyper-motivated to show his old team that it was wrong to let him go is also a reason to believe that he will have a great performance. However, despite the Eagles possible defensive flaws, it would be a mistake to conclude that McCoy will have an Adrian Peterson-like performance by rushing between 150 to 200 yards at Lincoln Financial Field.
During the aforementioned four-game stretch, the Birds have only allowed 3.7 yards per carry and no rushing touchdowns against running backs that carry the ball ten to sixteen times. Right now, that might be a problem for the Bills as McCoy currently rushes 17.3 times per game and they like to be run-centric to fit an offensive philosophy that makes things easy for their defense.
Based on this issue, people might think that the Bills might be better off throwing the ball for a minimum of forty times to avoid three-and-outs and pressure on McCoy. Except, avoiding the run would be counterintuitive as McCoy can still be an asset despite encountering running game difficulties.
When he has averaged fewer than 4 yards per carry, he has been an even bigger threat in the passing game. In four games of such circumstances, McCoy has not only caught at least 10 yards per catch but caught nine passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns on sixteen targets. With the Eagles having allowed opposing running backs to catch 67.3 percent of their passes, 376 yards on 35 catches, and two touchdowns during the past four games, Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman will not have to worry as much as McCoy’s bruised ego from Kelly’s rejection is possibly causing him to.
Neither will you if you have him on your fantasy football team or are a Bills fan. With the realistic possibility of him averaging fewer than 4 yards per carry, his receiving skills can save him and stick it to the Eagles. After all, when McCoy has rushed for fewer than 4 yards per carry, he still garners an average of 79.5 yards from scrimmage.
The Bills are unfortunately are 2-2 under the same circumstances. However, one of those games featured backup and failed first-round pick quarterback EJ Manuel starting; a quarterback whom the Bills have been 0-2 with this season. With the team being 6-4 when starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor plays, the team will not only increase their chances of giving the Eagles another running threat to worry about. With his 17:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 64.9 percent completion rate, 248.9 aerial (217.1) and rushing (31.8) yards per game, and Bills franchise record passer rating (104.3) alone, it will increase its chances of simply winning the game.