So, why the question?
McCoy thrived in the presence of Michael Vick, the game's most dangerous quarterback (no, it's not Cam Newton). When Vick is healthy, every team uses a linebacker or a safety to spy Vick.
Consider: When Vick missed Games 10, 11 and 12 with fractured ribs, McCoy gained a total of 228 yards on the ground. Subtract an overblown, 60-yard run at the end of the Giants game and he gained only 168 yards on 49 carries, a modest 3.4 yards-per-carry average.
McCoy can catch, yes, but he largely acts as a safety valve when the routes by No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin and lethal weapon DeSean Jackson are smothered. When Jackson is on the field, every team double-covers Jackson.
Consider: When Jackson was suspended for Game 9, McCoy managed only 81 rushing yards. The Eagles simply could not get him going, so they abandoned him.
The Eagles considered themselves unable to call on McCoy when, with Vick or Jackson out of the game, teams keyed on McCoy.
Plays to McCoy netted 1 yard or less 24 times in the four games the Eagles played without either Vick or Jackson.
The Eagles lost three of those four games.
McCoy was tackled for loss more than any back last season, as much the result of his indecision as shoddy blocking in front of him early in the season by a reconstructed line.
Then again, Barry Sanders and Marshall Faulk got hit for losses a lot, too — and, like McCoy, more often they made defenders miss and hurt them for long runs.
Then again, Barry Sanders won one playoff game. Only once in six games did he manage more than 69 rushing yards.
As a blocker, especially against blitzers, McCoy has failed to progress along the same learning curve as predecessors Ricky Watters, Duce Staley and his mentor, Brian Westbrook.
This is fixable, but this is important.
Vick holds the ball much too long much too often and often fails to recognize not only from where a blitz is coming but that a blitz is coming. Faulk was never great at this, either, but Faulk played with brilliant quarterbacks with snake-strike releases and uncanny pocket sense.
Remember the concussion Vick suffered in Game 2 in Atlanta?
McCoy missed a block.
So, yes, there is a question of McCoy's authenticity.
A valid question.
It probably will not get answered this season.
Like McCoy, Jackson and Vick are now signed long-term.
Vick, still reckless and elusive and insanely fast, will continue to terrorize defensive coordinators.
Jackson, sandlot shifty with world-class speed, will continue to terrify defensive backs.
Shady will continue to reap the rewards: single coverage from overmatched linebackers; one level of defenders to beat on play-action calls; protection from overuse by a coaching staff that knows it has only him as a backfield weapon.
A backfield weapon without equal in franchise history.
He can score at any time, from anywhere. He had two TD runs of 33 yards last season and another of 49. The 60-yarder against the Giants — which should have been a 10-yarder, given the situation — nevertheless nailed that coffin shut.
He lost one fumble in 321 touches.
His nose for the end zone inside the 5-yard line is a blessed thing.
The real McCoy?
Prove it otherwise. n
Contact Marcus Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/MarcusHayes