Philadelphia Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy is entering the 2014 season with a high volume of expectations. He made a very bold statement in May when he called himself “the best running back in the league” in an interview with ESPN. The claim is excellent bar debate fodder, especially since he is ranking himself above Adrian Peterson, who was nine yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s once-thought insurmountable single-season rushing record in 2012, and has an NFL MVP trophy on his resume.
As brazen as the claim was, McCoy has the merits to support his position. Although Peterson has more rushing yards in the last three years, McCoy has more yards from scrimmage, which collectively, is more valuable in the end. What deviates McCoy from Peterson is his total skill set. Don’t get me wrong, Peterson is a physical, downhill bruiser of a running back, but is almost a non-factor in the passing game. Unlike Peterson, McCoy can run, catch and block, and resonates with a very explosive offensive system.
Many make the counter argument that Peterson is a workhorse running back. However, Shady McCoy was given 35 more carries than Peterson in 2013, despite the fact that AP played in a more ground-oriented offense. McCoy led the league in carries and rushing yards last year, and was the key factor in the league’s top rushing attack.
The argument could be made that McCoy is one of the most valuable players in the league, even more than Peterson. The numbers don’t lie. McCoy has been paramount to his team’s success over his career. The Eagles are 13-6 when McCoy gets 20 or more carries in a game in his five-year career. Comparably, the Minnesota Vikings are 20-12-1 when Peterson is given 20 or more carries over the last five seasons. The Eagles’ winning percentage when McCoy get 20 carries or more is 72 percent, while the Vikings winning percentage is 60 percent when Peterson runs the ball 20 times or more.
Granted, Peterson may have ran for 1,279 more yards than McCoy over his first five years, but he carried the ball a whopping 207 more times than McCoy over that span. Additionally, his yards-per-carry average is only .002 higher than McCoy. All in all, you get more bang for your buck when you give McCoy the rock.
The corollary to this derives from the two players’ per-touch value. Peterson is a threat to score whenever he is given a handoff. McCoy, on the other hand, is a threat to score whenever he touches the football. By definition, Peterson is the better pure runner, but McCoy is the better weapon. In a nutshell, Peterson has the high card, but McCoy has the better hand.
However, in order to avoid dining on his words, McCoy will need to prove that he is the alpha back this season with an impeccable follow-up season to his monster 2013 campaign.