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February 02, 2015

It’s time for the Eagles to show LeSean McCoy the door

LeSean McCoy is a one of the best running backs in Eagles history, but his declining talent and deteriorating attitude are no longer worth the expense. If Chip Kelly is good at his new job as personnel czar, his first move will be to get rid of his biggest star.

Now, I realize those words may be hard to accept for the army of fans McCoy has attracted over six remarkable seasons here, and I understand that his astonishing performance in a snowstorm two years ago has taken its place already as one of the best individual feats in team history. Sentiment says McCoy belongs here, for his entire career.

Logic says otherwise, however. McCoy’s descent was best captured by – in an article featured right on this website last week – that labeled him a detriment to his team. In fact, McCoy was only one of three Eagles listed under the heading “Bad” – along with total busts Bradley Fletcher and Riley Cooper.

Fans who see with their eyes instead of their hearts didn’t need a detailed statistical breakdown to realize that McCoy is no longer the great runner he once was.

Fans who see with their eyes instead of their hearts didn’t need a detailed statistical breakdown to realize that McCoy is no longer the great runner he once was. Instead of slashing through holes, he tried to dance around them last season – regardless of whether his best linemen were in there or not.

This lame argument that injuries along the front line were the real cause of his dropping from 5.1 yards per carry in 2013 to 4.2 this past season is a product of sentiment, not reality. Behind those same blockers, Darren Sproles averaged 5.8 yards per carry.

So why didn’t Kelly use Sproles more? This is a part of the story fans and most media people would rather ignore. The coach actually dialed back Sproles’ role in the offense as the season unfolded. Despite consistent success, Sproles carried the ball 34 times in the first six games and only 25 in the last 10.

In those last 10 games, Kelly was doing more than calling plays; he was managing the brittle psyche of McCoy, a sulker who had made it known that he wasn’t comfortable sharing the spotlight – certainly not after proclaiming before the season that he was the best running back in the NFL and was aiming at a 2,000-yard season.

The coach had no choice but to keep working McCoy hard because Sproles is too small to be an every-down back and because McCoy is a far better option than Chris Polk. Kelly had to cater to McCoy’s petulance, even though the running back exceeded 100 yards only twice in the final 10 games.

McCoy fell 681 yards short of his 2,000-yard goal, while contributing fewer big runs (only one over 40 yards) and fumbling three times. McCoy was not worth the $9.7 million he received in 2014, and he definitely will not approach in production the nearly $12-million cap hit he represents next season.

Offering another glimpse into his selfish attitude, McCoy said last week at the Super Bowl that he will not take a pay cut, something the very best players in the game have routinely done to help their teams. He seemed totally in denial about his financial situation, oblivious to the fact that it will cost the Eagles only $1 million if they cut him.

For Kelly, what to do with McCoy is not exactly a tough call. Is it smarter to try to squeeze another year out of him, or does it make more sense to include him in a trade for younger legs or a better first-round draft pick? At 27, McCoy still has good numbers and fan appeal.

Chip Kelly proved last year when he released DeSean Jackson that he has no loyalty to aging players, or to troublemakers. The coach also doesn’t care about how outsiders perceive his unorthodox moves. He does what he thinks is best for the Eagles, regardless of the reaction.

And what is best for the Eagles right now is to say goodbye to LeSean McCoy.


Super Bowl XLIX consisted of only one key moment on Sunday, an interception in the final minute that already stands as the dumbest play call in the history of the NFL. Nothing else really mattered – not the comeback by Tom Brady, not the astonishing catch by Jermaine Kearse, not even Katy Perry.

In my 25 years at WIP talking sports, we have never had a response like the one Monday morning to Seattle’s shocking loss to New England, 28-24.

How stupid was it, one yard from an NFL championship, for Russell Wilson to throw the ball into a muddle of bodies at the goal line instead of handing it to Marshawn Lynch? How could three intelligent people, coach Pete Carroll, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Wilson, all lose their minds simultaneously? How, how, how?

In my 25 years at WIP talking sports, we have never had a response like the one Monday morning to Seattle’s shocking loss to New England, 28-24. Fans didn’t know whether to recoil at the thought that it could have been the Eagles, or to mock the absurdity of the post-game explanations.

For example, Carroll said he didn’t want to run the ball against New England’s goal-line defense. They were at the goal line. What defense did he expect to see? Bevell said he was disappointed in the execution, suggesting receiver Ricardo Lockette should have pursued the ball more aggressively. Wilson said he had faith in his coaches’ strategy.

They have all lost their minds. The Seahawks had three plays to gain less than one yard. They had the best power runner in the NFL. They were in an ideal position to win. And then they found a way to blow the biggest game of the season, if not their lives.

In the days ahead, you will hear and read much about the Super Bowl victory of the New England Patriots. Don’t believe it. Those chronic cheaters won nothing. The Seahawks lost it. On the biggest stage in sports, at the most inopportune time, Seattle choked.


In the midst of a long-overdue youth movement, only the Phillies could replace a 68-year-old president with someone nine years older and not acknowledge the irony of the situation.

After months of speculation, the Phils replaced former president Dave Montgomery last week with Pat Gillick. Montgomery’s new title as chairman is largely honorary; he will still offer input, but with none of the authority he previously had. It is a soft place to land for a man of dignity and class after a long battle with cancer.

The most surprising part of the power shift is Gillick’s re-ascension. It has always been assumed that his brilliant work as the GM overseeing the 2008 champions was his last at-bat. He did say he didn’t see his return as “long, long-term” — as if there is such a thing for someone who will turn 78 this summer.

Gillick’s record is exemplary, but this promotion, at this age, is ridiculous. How can the Phillies hope to start a new era with all of the same old people? The only front-office decision-maker under 50 is GM Ruben Amaro Jr. (49), and he has demonstrated repeatedly that he has no idea what he’s doing.

As the Phillies have plunged from champions seven years ago to the projected worst team in baseball in 2015, they have done little more than shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic. Is Gillick capable of turning this roster back into a winner before old age overtakes him? Is Amaro really going to help?

Even the Phanatic himself wouldn’t answer yes to those questions.

And finally . . . 

•    When it comes to sheer audacity, Roger Goodell has no peer. The NFL commissioner said he has been available for comment “almost always” during this season, and then he turned down a request for an interview by NBC, which broadcast Super Bowl XLIX. NBC paid around $1 billion to air NFL games this season, and he said no. Amazing.

•    The Sixers are planning to unveil a new mascot next week, but so far all we know is that it will be blue and have feathers. In a cute twist, the team consulted a panel of children to design it. If the mascot is a big success, the Sixers should give those same kids a chance to re-design the roster. I’m pretty sure they’d do a better job than GM Sam Hinkie.

•    Chip Kelly finally picked a new personnel guy last week, and it was someone who was here all along – Ed Marynowitz. Chip and Ed should get along fine, as long as Ed loves former Oregon players as much as Chip does. If you were holding off on buying that Marcus Mariota Eagles jersey, this might be a good time to get in your order.

•    Critics of Flyers coach Craig Berube for rushing back Steve Mason from a knee injury are missing the point. Yes, Berube risked a setback to his No. 1 goaltender, but the alternative was to write off any chance of making the playoffs. Berube is still holding out hope for this season, and people are complaining? Why?

•    Several media outlets thought it was cutting-edge journalism to try to deflate 12 footballs in under 90 seconds last week, and all breathlessly reported that it could indeed be done. All I can say is, investigative reporting ain’t what it used to be.