When Chip Kelly met with the media this week to explain why the Eagles traded LeSean McCoy, he cited financial factors as being the main motivation behind the move.
"Really the biggest factor with LeSean, it was LeSean and the money," Kelly said.
McCoy was scheduled to a carry a cap hit of nearly $12 million in 2015 so it wasn't as if Kelly was lying. But he may not have been telling the whole truth, either. Shortly after McCoy was traded last week, Peter King tweeted out this interesting nugget:
"Hearing Chip felt McCoy was too east-west of a runner for his taste."
It's probably worth noting here that since 2010, no other running back in the NFL lost more yards on runs than McCoy with 433. That's not to sad McCoy was bad, because he wasn't. McCoy's style also led to plenty of big plays over the years. But there were times where McCoy's style clashed with Kelly's offense. As Ryan from ChipWagon pointed out in February:
"However, sometimes, given the situation and down and distance you want a back just to put his head down and hit the hole hard. This isn't really Lesean McCoy's style, and who am I to question that. Lesean gains a ton of yards by cutting back and stretching the play out. He is a dynamic running back and I don't want to change that. However, it needs to be understood that sometimes 3 yards on 1st down is better than -3, especially when you consider how this offense wants to run tempo."
When it comes to a style change, recent evidence favors King's report. The Eagles were interested in signing Frank Gore (and thought they had him) before signing DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. These players, unlike McCoy, are known to be much more physical. Kelly himself admitted it was Murray's playing style that made him attractive to Philadelphia.
"Just his style. How he plays," Kelly said. "You know obviously we faced him twice, you get a chance to see him up close and personal and what he can do. A physical, down-hill runner. Really what a zone-scheme we’re looking for: a down-hill, one-cut runner. Both him and Ryan [Mathews] possess those qualities."
It also doesn't seem like a coincidence that Mathews and Murray were the two free agents rushers with the most yards per attempt running out of the shotgun in the past two years. It's no secret that Kelly likes to run out of the gun.
Along with a style change, it seems like Kelly wanted to move on from McCoy in terms of a usage standpoint. Now that the Eagles have two physical runners, Kelly touched on the importance of distributing the touches.
"When you have a physical, down-hill runner, you better have two of them because they’re going to carry the ball but they’re also going to take a lot of physical shots so we want to be able to spread out the carries. We were real fortunate, I think, and a real credit to LeSean [McCoy] that we had for the last two years… [we] had our fingers crossed the whole time that [he] never got injured. So it’s a real credit to him in terms of his durability. But knowing the style that [Murray and Mathews] have I think being able to distribute the the carries for two guys is what we were looking to do."
McCoy may have not been an ideal "fit" for the Eagles running game the past two years, but even despite that he was an awfully productive player. Now it's up to the Eagles new rushers to be even better.