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Hang on to that thing tighter, Shady

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As we all know, Donovan McNabb has the lowest interception rate in the history of the NFL, and although I'm personally very excited for the beginning of the Kevin Kolb era, I also think we're all expecting a spike in interceptions thrown, which has been discussed at length in the comment sections of this blog.

One thing that I don't think has been discussed yet, however, is that our other recently departed longtime Eagle great, Brian Westbrook, was also exceptional at not turning the ball over.  His career stats (not including kick/punt returns)...


Rushes Receptions Total touches Fumbles Fumble %
Brian Westbrook 1308 426 1734 8 0.46%

 

Westbrook's successor, LeSean McCoy, is far too careless with the way he carries the football, and that is an aspect of his game that needs to improve this offseason.  After the jump, we'll take a look at how Westbrook's excellence in ball security compares to some of the other active NFL running backs, and we'll look at some game film of LeSean McCoy's fumbles last season...

The following graph shows the active NFL running backs with a minimum of 900 career rushing attempts, in order from the the best to worst at securing the football.  (Does not include the playoffs or fumbles occurring on kick/punt returns)...


Rushes Receptions Total touches Fumbles Fumble %
Brian Westbrook 1308 426 1734 8 0.46%
Cedric Benson 935 63 998 7 0.70%
LaDainian Tomlinson 2880 530 3410 27 0.79%
Julius Jones 1220 133 1353 12 0.88%
Thomas Jones 2280 289 2569 24 0.93%
Ronnie Brown 928 151 1079 10 0.93%
Larry Johnson 1421 154 1575 15 0.95%
Fred Taylor 2491 288 2779 27 0.97%
Willis McGahee 1441 150 1591 17 1.07%
Clinton Portis 2176 242 2418 26 1.08%
Steven Jackson 1548 281 1829 20 1.09%
Willie Parker 1253 84 1337 17 1.27%
Marion Barber 929 163 1092 15 1.37%
Chester Taylor 1028 265 1293 18 1.39%
Frank Gore 1168 224 1392 22 1.58%
Ricky Williams 2164 310 2474 46 1.86%
Adrian Peterson 915 83 998 20 2.00%

 

As you can see, we've been spoiled by Brian Westbrook's ability to hang onto the football for years.  What the chart doesn't show, remarkably, is that 5 of Westbrook's 8 fumbles occurred on pass receptions, leaving just 3 on actual rushing attempts.  Westbrook's ball security throughout his career here was simply outstanding, and Eagles running backs coach Ted Williams has some work to do with McCoy.

McCoy's fumbles last year...


Not a single one of McCoy's fumbles last season were the result of a big hit.  On his fumbles against the Raiders and Bears, the defenders were able to simply punch the ball out of his hands.  On his fumble against the Saints (although technically it wasn't 'ruled' a fumble), the ball was easily stripped out by Jonathan Vilma

I really can't say it any better than what Cris Collinsworth said during the replay of Charles Tillman easily punching the ball out of McCoy's hands - "They didn't do that in college."  And Collinsworth is 100% right - The number of fumbles LeSean McCoy had in his 2 years at Pitt, you might ask?  None.  In college, when you're so much better and faster than pretty much everyone on the field, defenders are just hoping to just bring you down.  In the NFL, where everyone is a bona fide athlete, defenders are looking to make plays.

Love your talent, Shady, but you have to tighten it up.