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Can Vick Inject Life Back Into the Eagles Rushing Attack?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    It started going downhill when, with six minutes left in the third quarter, Kevin Kolb missed a hand-off exchange with LeSean McCoy deep in the red zone.

    Last week, we examined LeSean McCoy's rapid rise and comparable numbers to Brian Westbrook through the first five games of 2010. However, while most of the focus over this bye week is on the quarterback controversy, McCoy has followed up his brilliant opening with two straight lackluster rushing performances.

    As always, the question is why? Is he wearing down from all the carries? Are defenses keying in on him?

    Looking first at McCoy's workload, week by week, we can see that he's catching more passes and getting more rushing opportunties over the last 4 weeks:

    LeSean McCoy Touches by Week, 1-7

    Why over the last four weeks? Because that's when Kevin Kolb has been back playing. Andy Reid and Marty Morninwheg have clearly decided it's worth feeding the ball to McCoy more with their first-year starter under center.

    Unfortunately, increased workload for McCoy hasn't led to better production. In fact, his yards per carry average has dropped almost each week since the Detroit game:

    LeSean McCoy Yards per Carry by Week, 1-7

    Even worse, McCoy has only been able to average a paltry three yards per carry over the last two games. That's not going to inspire many comparisons to Westbrook.

    So what's the deal? It is unlikely that McCoy has just fallen off the wagon by himself.

    First of all, I think Jason Peters' loss was hugely felt in run blocking. Pro Football Focus ranks Peters as the Eagles best run blocker before his injury, and Football Outsiders says the Eagles are number two in the NFL in rushing over the left end of the line. Without Peters, McCoy lost his best blocker, and isn't likely to get the same holes with King Dunlap starting.

    The other part of the answer is obviously at quarterback. With Kolb in, the Eagles became much more predictable: short passes and runs. McCoy's longest rush over the last two games has been 9 yards.

    Previously, opposing defenses had to account for Michael Vick's unpredictability and explosive speed when he was starting. They also may have played their safeties deeper with Vick in the game, respecting his powerful arm strength. These factors helped McCoy break off multiple long runs.

    Going up next against the Colts, the 29th best rush defense in the league according to Football Outsiders, and with the bye week giving Vick and Peters enough time to return to the field, perhaps we will see another breakout game from McCoy in two weeks.