PHILADELPHIA – LeSean McCoy holds eight Philadelphia Eagles team records, is a two-time All-Pro, and already declared to the world that he’s the best running back in the NFL.
He thinks he can do more.
“There’s different things that I can get better at,” McCoy said. “A lot of players, they hide it because they get to a certain level where they feel they’re so good. I don’t hide it. If I have a bad game, I’ll sit here and tell you I had a bad game. That’s something I try to get better at. I want to be elite all the time. Not just Sundays, every day.”
Anyone who paid attention to McCoy during training camp knows he wants to run for 2,000 yards this season. His obsession with that number is partly due to a promotional campaign for Bounce dryer sheets, but for McCoy the lofty goal isn’t a gimmick.
“Who wouldn’t like to do it?” McCoy said. “But I just like to have fun with it. I let the media and all the fans really react to it, and the fantasy people. But the biggest thing is winning. That’s what I want to do. That’s the main goal.”
McCoy will start his quest for 2,000 against a run defense that was fourth worst in the NFL last year when the Eagles host the Jaguars in the season opener Sunday. You won’t hear him complain if he doesn’t get enough carries.
Coach Chip Kelly has zero tolerance for players who put individual goals ahead of the team. Just ask DeSean Jackson, the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who was released after having the best season of his career. Jackson had a reputation for pouting if he wasn’t happy with his receptions, even if the team won.
“All we care about is winning football games,” Kelly said. “We’ve never been driven by individual statistics and (McCoy) understands that. But if you ask him if he’d rather win a football game and run for 50 yards, I think he would be the first to tell you that than run for 200 yards and lose a football game. He’ll tell you he’d rather run for 50 and win a game.”
McCoy set a franchise record with 1,607 yards rushing last year, surpassing Wilbert Montgomery’s 1,512 in 1979. His 2,146 yards from scrimmage also were a team record. He led the NFL in both categories, the first Eagles player to do so since Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren in 1947.
His most impressive feat came in a win over Detroit on Dec. 8 when he plowed through 8 inches of snow for a team-record 217 yards. He had four 150-yard games last season while no other back in the league had more than one.
But McCoy was held to 60 yards or less six times. So he’s right about improving. He needs more consistency.
“Sometimes I get wrapped up in my God-gifted ability instead of actually doing the fundamental things,” McCoy said. “Reading my keys, all the small things that you get away with because of your natural talent. But sometimes if you let the play develop and then use the other stuff, it makes me better.”
Kelly is tough on his star player. He also says McCoy can take his game to a higher level.
“He can do everything better,” Kelly said. “He can do a better job in pass protection, he can do a better job in short-yardage situations, he can do a better job in eliminating negative plays where maybe the hole is not exactly there, but second-and-9 is better than second-and-14.”
McCoy isn’t afraid to voice opinions that may offend others. He publicly trash-talked with Osi Umenyiora and dissed Knowshon Moreno on social media. He said he’s better than Vikings star Adrian Peterson and wouldn’t backtrack after the 2012 NFL MVP laughed at the comment.
Peterson has run for 4,333 yards and 34 touchdowns since 2011. McCoy has 3,756 yards rushing and 28 TDs. But McCoy has a big edge in receiving with 154 receptions for 1,227 yards and eight TDs. Peterson has 87 catches for 527 yards and two TDs.
“Check the numbers,” McCoy said. “I do everything: running, catching, blocking, third-down guy, mixing in and out. There’s nothing that if you ask me to do, I won’t do or can’t do. In the last three years, I don’t think there’s a back that’s more productive.”