Eagles' McCoy buying into Chip's offense

Posted: April 19, 2013

THE PENN RELAYS officially start April 25, the same day as the NFL draft, but LeSean McCoy believes they might already be under way, on the practice fields of NovaCare.

"We're running so much - it's like a freakin' track meet, like a relay. We need some extra guys," McCoy said Thursday, after the Eagles wrapped up their first 3-day minicamp under new coach Chip Kelly. McCoy was explaining how he thinks there will be plenty of work for himself, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk.

"This is an offense where it's not a debate - 'Ah, I could do it myself' - because for one, you're going to do more plays than any other offense. Even in practices, the amount of plays we're doing [is extraordinary]," McCoy said. "So that's for one. Two is, the amount of hits from running so much. If you're faking it, or running it, passing or not, you're constantly going. I think any back, no matter how great a shape he's in, is going to need so much help. I know that. And Bryce is a good player . . . and don't be surprised if Chris Polk gets some carries."

When the Eagles hired Kelly 3 months ago, McCoy had questions. McCoy, a 4-year veteran at 24, was an Andy Reid loyalist. Whatever you think of how McCoy has handled his personal life on Twitter, in the locker room, McCoy's voice has never been one of discord or dissent. He blamed himself and his teammates for the 4-12 disaster that ended Reid's 14-year tenure. McCoy didn't greet Kelly's arrival with effusive praise, because he felt that would imply shifting blame to the previous coaching staff, and maybe because he was a little skeptical of a coach with an unconventional system, who had never worked in the NFL.

"I didn't know," McCoy said Wednesday in his first extensive remarks to reporters since Kelly was hired. "I'd seen games. Oregon put tons of points up each game. That's all I really knew.

"But as a coach, he's a great guy. I didn't know him. I'm feeling like I'm getting to know him a little better each day. He's a good guy, he's a hard worker. He's a straight shooter, man. What you see is kind of what you get. I like him."

Like Michael Vick, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin the day before, McCoy was fired up about the new offense.

"I've never played in an offense where the tempo was so high," McCoy said. "There's so many plays, so fast . . . as soon as you're done, you've got to be ready for the next play."

McCoy estimated there might be 10 seconds between practice reps, with the play calls relayed by "sign language."

"It's like a no-huddle type of offense, but way faster," he said.

"It lets me, or the backs, kind of pick and choose our holes, and [sets] such a fast pace for the defensive linemen, there'll be wide-open gaps and seams. I'm looking forward to having a big year . . . I feel like the offense we have here fits the players very well; the offensive line can move very well laterally, and it's the playmakers around it."

McCoy, who averaged a subpar 4.2 yards per carry last season and scored a career-low two rushing touchdowns, likes to weave and dance, and he thinks Kelly's setup will play to that.

"That's the first thing I noticed from going over the plays and watching tape [of Oregon] - there's so much room the backs have. That fits me," he said. "Just the stop, go, pick out the spot you want. I'm blessed to be in an offense like this. I wasn't sure when he came in, but actually seeing it, physically being there and learning it, I feel very, very confident . . . Everything's reads. I can go backside, frontside, wherever. I think that fits me best."

McCoy said he looks forward to "catching the ball and running the ball" in Kelly's offense; he said he can't tell yet whether it will be weighted one way or another.

"The offense looks amazing," he said.

He said he thinks the Eagles "will be in the best shape in the league" because of the tempo Kelly requires.

"This offense, we're shifting, moving. As soon as you get tackled, there's no celebrations after the play, it's strictly, 'Let's get the next play and let's go,' " McCoy said. "I want to say by the second or third quarter, teams will be tired, as you've seen [with] Oregon. That's how they really won a lot of their games . . . as a defense, you don't get a chance to really adjust, because you're moving so much."

McCoy said the Eagles are more than doubling the normal number of practice reps.

"It's kind of like beating it into your head - over and over and over again," he said. "It's one of those things where you kind of learn on the run. Just in 3 days, I feel like I've got the majority of the offense down."

McCoy said he can envision the Eagles making the playoffs in Kelly's first season.

(It's a rare player who will answer that question with, "Nah, are you nuts? We're really gonna stink.") But McCoy acknowledges that he is eager to see how these offensive innovations look when there's a real, live defense trying to get in the way.

"I have confidence, for sure, just from seeing it," he said. "But you kind of get that confirmation when you really go out and play against a defense, or even your defense, in camp," he said. "If it's successful then, it makes you more [assured] that it's going to work . . . you get that feel where you're still curious because you haven't [done] it yet in the NFL. But every day you see it, and it looks promising."

On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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