2014 NFC Playoffs: Is LeSean McCoy Responsible for Eagles’ Loss to Saints?
Saturday night, the New Orleans Saints took on the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. In an atmosphere Drew Brees and his Saints have been underachievers this season, they came out and gritted out a last-second win by the score of 26-24.
During the first half, offense came at a premium. Brees was picked off twice and the Saints couldn’t get much going. As the game progressed, each team began to get more comfortable moving the chains and putting points on the board. One aspect of the Eagles’ game, however, didn’t live up to expectations.
All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy, the owner of the 2014 rushing title, came into this game going up against a perfect scenario. The Saints’ pass defense was excellent, but their run defense has shown holes throughout the season. Philadelphia led the entire league in rushing in 2013, and going up against this run defense at home was a perfect scenario for McCoy to run wild.
Instead, McCoy rushed 21 times for just 77 yards. Though he did get into the end zone once, McCoy never really established a rhythm against New Orleans’ defensive front and averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. His long on the night was an 11-yard scamper, and beyond that he was never able to bust loose for a typical “Shady” burst.
Nick Foles played well enough to win in his first playoff appearance, but the rushing attack failed to live up to expectations and the Eagles as a whole only rushed for 80 yards. The fact that McCoy never truly got going allowed the Saints to play exceptional against the pass Saturday night by using different coverage schemes out of the playbook of Rob Ryan.
Will there be any “what-ifs?” surrounding the Philadelphia locker room in respect to their rushing attack and, specifically, McCoy’s performance? It is not anywhere near what was expected out of the league’s top back this season, and the Eagles have to be upset at the fact that they simply could not establish their normally-sound ground game.