Finding a hole in LeSean McCoy's game is not easy.
He has great speed, can cut on a dime and has become an efficient blocker. If he is not the best running back in the league, he is on the short list.
That does not, however, mean he has no room for improvement. It's the offseason, which is a time to look at even the best players and see how they can become better. If McCoy wants to top his record setting performance last season, one way he can do so is by becoming a more consistent runner.
If there is a flaw in McCoy's game, it is that he to often looks for the home run carry. This results in too many of his attempts ending in either lost yards or a minimal gain. Too often last season, McCoy was ineffective for most of the game before breaking out for a long run in the 4th quarter. Make no mistake about it- those runs were important, sealed victories for the Eagles, and are a big part of what makes McCoy so great. But that doesn't change the fact that for the other 3 quarters, he generally was not effective running the ball.
Really for only 3 games last year (Week 3 vs NYG, Week 6 vs WAS and Week 8 vs DAL) was McCoy a serious work horse. In those games, he had over 100 yards, but his longest carry in both games was less than 35 yards. In his other big games this year, McCoy did the majority of his damage on just 1 play.
What is troubling is that his inconsistency really started after his big back to back weeks (vs. WASH & DAL), when the national spotlight really started to shine on him. Once that started, McCoy really started to look for the big run- and it hurt him.
Take away his 33 yard carry against the Chicago Bears, and McCoy had 38 yards on 15 carries. Take away his 29 yard carry against the Arizona Cardinals, and McCoy had only 52 yards on 13 carries. Those were both big, big losses for the Eagles. Against Miami, McCoy carried the ball 27 times for 38 yards- and a long of 11. Meaning on the other 26 carries, McCoy averaged just a little over a yard.
If you compare McCoy to the other top backs in the league- Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster and Ray Rice, he is clearly the least consistent of the bunch. For the season, McCoy had his longest carry account for over 40% of his rushing yards 5 times. That's more than Jones-Drew and Foster combined, and less times than Rice. Twice this season McCoy had 1 carry account for over 50% of his yards. By comparison, Jones-Drew didn't have that happen all season.
This season McCoy finished with under 40 yards a whopping 4 times- more than Jones-Drew, Rice and Foster combined. He averaged close to 15 carries in those games. In the 2 games Rice had under 40 yards, he averaged just 6 carries.
While the argument could be made that the reason for McCoy's inconsistency is Andy Reid's refusal to run the ball, that isn't completely true. McCoy carried the ball 273 times last year for an average of just over 18 times per game. That average is the same for Rice, and only 3 less carries per game than Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew.
As stated earlier, McCoy is arguably the best back in the league, and was paid as such this off-season- but everyone can improve.
McCoy continuing to improve this season and become a more consistent runner will go a long way in helping the Eagles improve themselves- and make the playoffs.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks