Birds’ McCoy fo­cused on the main goal

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By BOB GROTZ

PHILADEL­PHIA — Less is more.

That’s the new mantra of Pro Bowl run­ning back LeSean McCoy, who leads the Ea­gles into their sea­son opener Sun­day against the Jack­sonville Jaguars (1 p.m., Chan­nel 3, WIP 94.1-FM).

McCoy sur­vived the purge send­ing DeSean Jack­son and Ja­son Avant pack­ing. He’s the last rem­nant of the Andy Reid be-your­self star cul­ture.

It’s not been easy for McCoy, who wants to de­fend his NFL rush­ing ti­tle, to bal­ance his com­pet­i­tive instincts with the ego­less phi­los­o­phy of head coach Chip Kelly. With Kelly there is no “I” in team.

On the eve of the opener McCoy again opened eyes with what he said. Con­sider it a snap­shot of what’s to come for the Ea­gles of­fense quar­ter­backed by Nick Foles.

First, the same McCoy who peeved Kelly in pro­claim­ing him­self the best all-around run­ning back in the league, the same young man who an­nounced that rush­ing for 2,000 yards was within reach, shared a chat he had with the boss.

“Some­thing me and coach al­ways talk about,” McCoy said, “is how you be the best is you help th­ese guys to win games, to win cham­pi­onships. That’s the main goal.”

Min­utes later the reined-in McCoy, not the se­ri­ous work­horse who led the league with 314 car­ries, 1,607 rush­ing yards and 2,146 yards from scrim­mage last year, spoke about his evolv­ing role.

Though Jack­son is gone, wide re­ceiver Ri­ley Cooper is back, Jeremy Ma­clin is healthy after knee surgery, Zach Ertz looks like he’s sprout­ing into a Jimmy Gra­ham type of tight end and run­ning back Dar­ren Spro­les is on the scene after fall­ing into dis­use in New Or­leans. How in the world can Foles, who led the NFL with a 119.2 passer rat­ing and a 9.12 yards

per pass at­tempt, keep all of them happy?

“I think I’ll be the guy with most of the load with the of­fense. but I don’t think that 300 plus-plus car­ries is re­ally needed,” McCoy said. “Sure, if the game is tight and we need to ride me, yeah, I’m the guy for it. But I think with just the mix with Spro­les do­ing dif­fer­ent things … Some­times a 65-yard carry could be the same as a 65-yard route with Spro­les. I’m learn­ing that it doesn’t take a lot of reps or a lot of touches to be more pro­duc­tive or get what you want done. You can do it with less.”

McCoy caught 52 passes for 539 yards last year, a 10.4-yard av­er­age per grab that topped all run­ning backs. He and Spro­les are made to or­der for the deadly wheel routes Kelly and of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Pat Shur­mur call.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the Ea­gles’ of­fen­sive line re­turns almost in­tact, the ex­cep­tion Allen Bar­bre start­ing at right tackle in place of Lane John­son, sus­pended the first four games for us­ing PEDs.

It al­ways starts up front for the Ea­gles. Among other lead­ers on the veteran group is guard Evan Mathis, who lines up to fel­low All-Pro tackle Ja­son Peters. Mathis likes the way McCoy is squar­ing his quest for 2,000 rush­ing yards with win­ning.

“It’s good for him to have that kind of goal,” Mathis said. “That’s ob­vi­ously rais­ing the bar very high. If he gets it, that’s phe­nom­e­nal. But it’s not go­ing to change the way we ap­proach the game and the way we block. We’ll do our best to get him there. And I would as­sume that if you’re get­ting that kind of yardage it should trans­late to some form of suc­cess. So it’s good in that as­pect. But like I said, as far as goals go, it’s good to have those, but it’s nowhere near the high­est we have.”

Not much has been said about the Jaguars, and for good rea­son. Head coach Gus Bradley, in his sec­ond year, still doesn’t have the guys who suit his style.

Veteran quar­ter­back Chad Henne is 5-14 as the starter for the Jaguars. Toby Ger­hart has been pro­moted from Adrian Peter­son sub­sti­tute to fea­tured back for the Jags, re­plac­ing Mau­rice JonesDrew.

The wide re­ceiver corps is topped by rookie sec­ond-round picks Mar­qise Lee (USC) and Allen Robin­son (Penn State). Tight end Marcedes Lewis can’t do it alone. Be­fore it’s all said and done Sun­day, look for Jags rookie quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles to play.

The Jaguars have a solid front-seven de­fen­sively, one an­chored by line­backer Paul Posluszny and end Chris Cle­mons, but not a lot more.

The Ea­gles may even have the edge in the kick­ing game with rookie Cody Parkey. Jaguars coun­ter­part Josh Scobee is com­ing off a quad in­jury.

De­fen­sively the Ea­gles are ea­ger to un­veil the new and im­proved pass rush they’ve felt has been un­der wraps in the pre­sea­son.

“From this point on ev­ery team will be able to see what we are on ev­ery down,” veteran cor­ner­back Cary Wil­liams said. “So we want to es­tab­lish a fear­some de­fense. We want to es­tab­lish 11 guys fly­ing down to the ball. We want to see guys hit­ting peo­ple. We want to see guys be­ing phys­i­cal. We want to see guys not tak­ing any junk. You def­i­nitely don’t want to be a pushover de­fense. Ev­ery­one is go­ing to watch and be able to see what our iden­tity is and who we are. If we want to in­still fear in any of our op­po­nents or any­body we come into con­tact with then it starts Sun­day.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.