A month ago I wrote that the Eagles needed to unleash LeSean McCoy. Amazingly, over the two games that followed, Andy Reid did just that.
Reid and Marty Mornhinweg let McCoy carry the ball 58 times in weeks six and eight. He rewarded them with 311 rushing yards, three touchdowns, and — most important — two victories. None of that was meant to last, of course.
In the last two weeks McCoy has only seen the ball 30 times total, a reversion to the subpar. And, surprise, the Eagles lost both games.
The logical answer would be to again exhort Reid to put the game on McCoy’s shoulders. He still provides the Eagles with the best chance to win and, after all, it worked the first time.
But sitting at 3-6 with seven games left, the Eagles don’t need wins any more. There’s nothing left to win. The 2011 season is already over.
Instead of giving the ball to McCoy, I suggest the Eagles coaches continue to do what they do best: protect their running back by absurdly limiting his carries. With a contract extension, McCoy hopefully will be a centerpiece of the Eagles offense for at least the next five years. His talents will be important to reviving the team’s hopes in 2012.
So why risk serious injury over these last few meaningless contests? Let Dion Lewis carry the ball and gain experience. See if he can be an adequate back up going forward. And, while you’re at it, don’t worry about rushing Michael Vick back from his broken ribs. Vick needs to iron out his accuracy issues, but maybe some rest on the bench would do him some good.
There are some other positions where it would be nice to rest a player or give a younger guy a shot during this extended 2012 preseason tryout. Brandon Graham could use more action, and Curtis Marsh should get a chance to prove he was worth a third round pick.
But there’s no one I want bubble-wrapped more than McCoy, and the Eagles coaches have been plenty willing to protect him when the games counted. It would be a shame to change course and wear him out now, to no positive end.
Photo from Getty.