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Eagles' LeSean McCoy Quietly Amassing Westbrook-Like Numbers

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Only nine months have passed since the Eagles made a move thatLeSean McCoy photo by Paul Sancya. signified a change of direction and, fittingly, that move involved a player who changed direction better than any Eagle ever had. Before the much ballyhooed trade of Donovan McNabb, the team cut ties with the running back that was the team’s most valuable player during the franchise’s most successful decade.

The end of Brian Westbrook’s Eagles career was accompanied by the type of praise typically reserved for football legends.

“Brian is one of the greatest Eagles of all time. In my mind there has not been a more versatile running back that the NFL has seen.” -- Andy Reid

“Brian Westbrook is one of the most electric players in the history of this franchise.” -- Jeffrey Lurie

“He will certainly go down as one of the greatest Eagles of all time.” -- Joe Banner

During his eight year tenure in Philadelphia, Westbrook became known around the NFL as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in professional football. His pass-catching abilities and open field prowess made him a threat on every offensive play. For a number of year’s the mental health of the team and its fan base depended on Westbrook’s ability to take the field on Sunday, despite the aches and pains that his 30-some weekly offensive touches produced.

Clearly, the job of replacing the most versatile player in the NFL would be a tall order. Even more daunting was the fact that this task would be assigned to a second year running back who was still only 21 years of age.

But as recent history has proven, the Philadelphia Eagles often prepare for the departure of their veteran stars by securing their replacements well in advance. Their selection of LeSean McCoy in the second round of the 2009 draft made it clear that the Westbrook era was winding down.

So, how would the young man who grew up in Harrisburg and played college ball for Pitt handle the massive responsibility that was being assigned to him?

Less than two years into his Eagles career, the answer has been, ’Quite well, thanks.’

LeSean McCoy was always known as a game-changing running back. In his two years at Pitt, he ran for over 2800 yards and put up 35 touchdowns. He also caught 65 passes and accounted for over 40% of his team’s offensive production.

Sound similar to someone Eagles fans had grown to love over the past decade?

Clearly, McCoy had the talent to run and catch the ball like Westbrook did for so long. However, many analysts wondered if such a young player could be counted on to execute the intricacies of the West Coast offense, where running and catching are held in equal regard with thinking and blocking.

But in the twelve games since McCoy went from understudy to headliner, the now 22-year old has proven to be one of the team‘s best personnel decisions in recent years. With nearly all of the Eagles media coverage being devoted to the resurgence of Michael Vick, McCoy has quietly amassed a set of offensive statistics that look awfully similar to those of Westbrook‘s glory days.

You remember those glory days. From 2006-2008, B-West’s rushing totals were comparable to the league’s workhorse backs. And just for good measure, he was mixing in over 70 receptions a year. From the ages of 27-29, Westbrook established nearly all of his statistical career bests.

The tables below list the average of Westbrook’s three finest season’s in midnight green. Then, for the sake of comparison, they include the numbers that McCoy is on pace for in 2010.

 

WESTBROOK

(2006-2008 avg)

MCCOY

(2010 pace)

Carries

250

224

Yards

1162

1097

Avg

4.6

4.9

TD

8

9

 

WESTBROOK

(2006-2008 avg)

MCCOY

(2010 pace)

Receptions

74

89

Yards

624

712

Avg

8.4

8.0

TD

5

3

Now, raise your hand if you knew that McCoy’s numbers were on pace to equal or surpass those of Westbrook’s glory years? Did you know that Westbrook’s career high in receptions was 90 (during his otherworldly 2007 season), and that McCoy is on pace for 89? Have you noticed that McCoy is not that far behind Westbrook’s franchise record 2104 yards from scrimmage from 2007?

The fact that McCoy is on pace for over 1800 total yards and 12 touchdowns at the age of 22 should have Eagles fans giddy, but he has amassed those numbers in a manner consistent with his modest personality. Rarely do Eagles fans hear from McCoy each week. There are no rumblings about him outperforming his contract or Tweets expressing dissatisfaction with his modest 14 carries per game.

Instead, there is frequently an unassuming smile on the face of the young running back. It’s a face that football fans should get used to. It’s a face that is making Eagles fans think of Westbrook in a nostalgic way instead of a regretful one.

It is the face of talented young man who is proving to be The Real McCoy.

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com.   You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net  

AP photo by Paul Sancya

RECEIVING STATISTICS