Who's Had Best Season?

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MCCOY
JOHNSON

A dangerous runner and receiver

Fox By Ashley Fox
ESPN.com
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One of the great disappointments of the Philadelphia Eagles' season -- and with the team 6-8 and clinging to a faint hope of getting into the playoffs, there have been many -- is that LeSean McCoy's spectacular season probably will go to waste.

In his third season, McCoy, 23, has emerged as one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the league. He leads the NFL with 20 touchdowns, 17 rushing and three receiving, and is second in the league with 1,274 rushing yards. He trails only Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, by 60 yards.

Like his predecessor, Brian Westbrook, McCoy is a threat as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield. His 1,579 scrimmage yards rank fourth in the NFL. Even though he has 260 carries and 47 receptions, McCoy has fumbled only once all season, Sunday against the Jets.

Like Westbrook, McCoy is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is quick and decisive with the ball, reliable and capable of breaking off long runs. Rex Ryan described McCoy as making every run look like a punt return, and that certainly was the case against the Jets. McCoy had his sixth 100-yard game and scored three rushing touchdowns to become the all-time franchise leader, breaking Steve Van Buren's record from the 10-game 1945 season.

With games against Dallas and Washington remaining, McCoy needs 239 yards to break Wilbert Montgomery's single-season franchise record of 1,512 rushing yards.

On Monday, Andy Reid complimented McCoy for his work ethic, and his ability to put on weight and improve his strength. McCoy has played every game this season and has not suffered a significant injury in his three seasons since the Eagles drafted him in the second round out of the University of Pittsburgh.

"He's working to put himself as one of the elite, elite guys in this league," Reid said, "and he's on pace to do that."

Had Reid used McCoy more effectively earlier this season, the Eagles' record probably would be better. They lost five fourth-quarter leads earlier this season. Instead of giving the ball to McCoy to milk the clock and get yards, Reid insisted on throwing the ball.

McCoy is as dangerous an offensive weapon as there is in the NFL. It is too bad he probably won't be able to show it in the postseason.

Ashley Fox covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

Megatron has been megabig

Clayton By John Clayton
ESPN.com
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In a year of comebacks, the best non-quarterback meriting MVP consideration is Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

"Megatron" has been megabig in the Lions' incredible run of four comebacks of 13 points or more. This has been the year of the fourth-quarter comebacks. Quarterbacks have been credited with 64 fourth-quarter comebacks out of the 224 games, but few have been as dramatic as the Lions'.

Johnson consistently gets open in crunch time in those games. Megatron has averaged 94 yards a game receiving after the Lions have fallen behind by 13 points or more. Sunday's 28-27 comeback win over the Raiders might have been the best.

The Raiders stayed mostly in man coverage against Johnson, which probably was a mistake. He had catches of 24, 21 and 48 yards on the final two touchdown drives, and won the game with a 6-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone. He also drew two penalties from the Raiders that kept the Lions' offense moving.

Wes Welker has moved the chains for the New England Patriots. Johnson has moved the meter for the Lions, putting them within one win of clinching a wild-card spot. Sure, quarterback Matthew Stafford deserves plenty of the credit for those comebacks and this season. But as a quarterback, he's not going to win an MVP battle this season against Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady.

Those great comebacks are the difference between the Lions' being the 6-10 team of last season or the 10-6 team of 2011 if they can get one more win. Johnson trails Welker by 55 yards. He has 81 catches for 1,335 yards. He has 14 touchdown receptions to Welker's nine.

The Lions' offense is designed to react to what the coverages give Johnson. When Stafford arrived in Detroit in 2009, opponents often put two or three defenders around Johnson. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and the front office looked for players to draw coverage away from him. Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler were added last year. Speedy rookie Titus Young also has helped.

Because the Lions have two good tight ends -- Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew -- Stafford can destroy zone schemes that put a cornerback and a safety on Johnson. Johnson is big, strong and fast enough to destroy man-to-man coverage.

Megatron has my vote for the non-quarterback MVP.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.