Dale Zanine/US Presswire
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One key area to watch when the Patriots and Eagles joust Sunday: How quickly the Patriots are able to make contact with Eagles running back LeSean McCoy -- and whether that contact is enough to get him on the ground.
New England coach Bill Belichick stressed Friday the need to gang tackle against the speedy McCoy, the league's leading rusher.
“Unbelievably quick, he’s got tremendous quickness,” Belichick said of McCoy. “You don’t see really anybody tackle him 1-on-1. You need a group of guys around him. He gets hemmed in and then he gets out of it. He’s got great quickness, good vision but great quickness to be able to avoid people. He’s got some running strength too, he gets through the line. Guys get a shot at him and he’s able to run through them.
“I’m not saying he’s a big-time power runner like Brandon Jacobs or Peyton Hillis or someone like that. He’s got good playing strength, but he’s very quick -- screen passes, draws, things like that and the guy has a lot of carries. He’s really hard to tackle, makes a lot of yards on his own, not taking anything away from their blocking or anything but he gets a lot of yards after it looks like somebody should get him, he gets a lot more.”
The key with McCoy: He's averaging 3.61 yards per rush before contact, according to ESPN Stats and Info, the third-best rate among all running backs with at least 50 attempts. That’s a daunting stat for a Patriots team that has allowed the sixth most yards per rush before contact this season (2.74). New England ranks 12th in the league overall against the run (105.3 yards per game) this season.
McCoy’s franchise-record streak of nine straight games with a touchdown ended last week against the Giants, but he still rushed for 113 yards and leads the NFL with 1,019 yards for the season. You can read more on McCoy and the Eagles in this week's three-point stance.