Eagles should back off from Bell, McCoy
PHILADELPHIA >> Le’Veon Bell hasn’t wanted to play for the Steelers, not even while tagged as a franchise player, not for what they’re paying, no matter how much they could use his running back skills.
LeSean McCoy doesn’t care if he plays for the Buffalo Bills, or at least that’s how it sounded when he was confronted with trade rumors and declined the opportunity to scream otherwise. Nor do the Bills seem to care if he takes his tired off-field act elsewhere, clearly listening to offers to get him out of there and fast.
Two talented backs, both around their career primes, each ever likely to disturb a football franchise with selfish behavior. And two backs that the Eagles are said to be interested in acquiring.
That’s what will happen, if not soon, then by 4 p.m., Oct. 30, when the NFL’s trading floor is closed for the season. One of them likely will join the franchise with a weird addiction to the bottom-of-theTV-screen ticker, always, always looking to lead the NFL in adding players likely to create breaking news.
What? Was it a coincidence that the Eagles could acquire Michael Vick and Tim Tebow, Terrell Owens and Mark Sanchez? It’s what they do. They acquire big names, and then they will worry about how it works later. And should they acquire Bell or McCoy, they will dominate the leaguewide conversation. Party at Lurie’s place afterward.
For once, though, the Eagles should wait. For once, they should realize that adding Bell or McCoy would be more destructive than helpful, even if Jay Ajayi is out for the season, and even if Darren Sproles isn’t playing. They should recognize that Bell is a quitter. They should remember that McCoy has been alleged to have fist-fought with police and to have had a woman thrown out of a party bus. And wasn’t the man known as Shady sued recently by an ex-girlfriend who was beaten in a home he’d owned in Georgia?
As it happened, the Birds 2009 acquisition of Vick, who had recently been jailed in connection with a gruesome dog-fighting operation, turned into a wonderful tale of redemption. Vick was a valued teammate, a strong leader, a pretty good player and a new man. He’d even become a loving dog owner. But when he was signed, and at every Eagles game, home or away, for at least a year afterward, mobs growled and snarled in heated protest, and fans called talk-shows day and night vowing never to give another dime to an operation so quick to shelter a convicted animal abuser.
If the Eagles well should have been blasted for harboring someone willing to see harm done to animals, why shouldn’t they be equally ripped if they re-hire a player who was alleged to have been around so much damage done to people?
Maybe that’s why Howie Roseman thought he should listen before he acted. Maybe that’s why he asked for a sitdown the other day with Corey Clement, the second-year back who would be central to the Birds’ division-championship hopes.
“He said, ‘Make me believe that we don’t need a back,’” Clement said the other night, after scoring a touchdown in a 34-13 victory over the New York Giants. “And you’ve got to take the challenge for what it’s worth. It’s football. It’s the nature of the game. And I believe in the guys in the room that we’ve got.”
The Eagles won Thursday with Clement and Wendell Smallwood in the backfield. Eventually, Sproles will return from a hamstring injury. By Friday, Clement’s statement had been bounced off Doug Pederson, who doesn’t make personnel decisions, but who is paid to keep the Eagles high in the standings. That job, though, requires just the right mix in the locker room. That’s his job, too.
“Listen, I have total confidence in our runners,” Pederson said. “Now saying that, we are constantly adding talent, if we can. That’s part of Howie’s job, and Joe Douglas’, and our personnel department. That’s every position on the roster.
“So we are very encouraged, obviously, with the current situation. We love those guys, and Josh (Adams) and we’ll get Sproles back at some point. That’s what we like. But at the same time, are we constantly trying to add value, add talent? Yeah. We are always going to do that and try to make our roster better.”
McCoy, 30, rushed for
1,138 yards last season, but has averaged just 42.5 rushing yards through four games this season for the Bills. Bell,
25, rushed for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns last season for Pittsburgh. Either could help, at least on game day. But to what extent? With or without them, the Eagles are going to win the pathetic NFC East. But they have not shown enough in other places through a 3-3 start to suggest another Super Bowl run.
So trust Smallwood, expect Sproles to make a contribution and see if Clement can continue to grow as a feature back. That added in-season work will help in the postseason.
“Corey’s a huge part of this offense,” Carson Wentz said. “You saw, especially later last year, what he brings, both in the passing game and in the running game, screens and everything else that he does. Mixing up those running backs and getting them touches in different ways is something Coach does a great job of. And those guys are huge for us.”
Give them a chance. Any other approach could only be a problem.
Could the Eagles ring up Steelers holdout Le’Veon Bell or bring back drama king LeSean McCoy from Buffalo to help their lack of a running attack? It might be better to stick with the backs they have.