Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

"Shady" Doings

Playing running back for Andy Reid puts you at a distinct disadvantage for honors such as the Pro Bowl.

"Shady" Doings

LeSean McCoy was not one of the top three vote getters at running back in Pro Bowl balloting. (Seth Wenig/AP)
LeSean McCoy was not one of the top three vote getters at running back in Pro Bowl balloting. (Seth Wenig/AP)

LeSean McCoy is living the same reality that Brian Westbrook was less than thrilled to endure for a couple of very, very productive years with the Eagles: Playing running back for Andy Reid puts you at a distinct disadvantage for honors such as the Pro Bowl.

McCoy is third among NFC running backs in total yards, but he is at the No. 5 spot in rushing yardage. Since most people vote for the Pro Bowl based on a quick look at the stat leaders and name recognition, it was no real surprise that McCoy was not one of the top three vote getters. Atlanta’s Michael Turner, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and St. Louis’ Steven Jackson are all better-known and have more rushing yards. Simple as that.

Of course, if you watch the games, you know that McCoy is a versatile, tough and remarkably shifty back capable of turning a draw play or a checkdown pass into a big play. The position is so much more complex in Reid’s offense – pass blocking, blitz recognition, selling screens, lining up as a wideout – that it is almost unfair to compare McCoy (or Westbrook before him) to backs who are asked almost exclusively to run the ball.

Westbrook went to the Pro Bowl twice as an Eagle, after the 2004 (Super Bowl year) and 2007 seasons. He was arguably the most explosive and dangerous offensive player on the best team in the NFC for much of his seven-year stint here.
So McCoy should take this in stride. He is a terrific player and an underrated (in the year of Vick/Jackson) factor in the Eagles’ success this year. He will get his due. At least, you have to hope he does.

As for the rest of the Eagles’ Pro Bowl fates, I guess we’re going to have to concede that Jason Peters is a pretty good tackle. He certainly says he is. So does Reid. But two consecutive Pro Bowl selections suggest the rest of the NFL thinks he’s pretty good, too. Maybe we were all just spoiled by the consistent excellence of Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan for all those years.

Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel were no-brainers.

So too was kicker David Akers. He is another guy who has played below the radar for the most part this season. It struck me after the Dallas game. He’d hit a 50-yard field goal in that one. In the locker room, as reporters waited to talk to Jackson and McCoy and Vick, Akers sat on a little ledge and fussed with his cellphone. He just makes it look easy, year after year. And now that he’s the last man standing from the early day’s of Reid’s tenure, we should probably appreciate him just a bit more.

Phil Sheridan Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Phil Sheridan has been covering pro and college sports in his hometown since 1985. He has been a columnist at the Inquirer since 2003, after a seven-year run as the paper's Eagles beat writer. Sheridan has covered eight Olympics, numerous Super Bowls and World Series, and has seen Guided By Voices and Wilco too many times to count. He lives, cooks and pursues the ultimate margarita blend in Langhorne. Reach Phil at psheridan@phillynews.com.

Phil Sheridan
Phil Sheridan Inquirer Columnist
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