Can LeSean McCoy Unseat Adrian Peterson as NFL's Best Running Back?

Sean ODonnellContributor IIISeptember 20, 2013

Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) carries for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We are only nine months removed from the finale of Adrian Peterson's dazzling 2012 performance in which he rushed for 2,097 yards—just eight shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season record. Peterson has been renowned as the best running back in the NFL for quite some time now, and his spectacular 2012 season all but solidified the notion.

This year, however, a new running back is already emerging as a very realistic candidate to unseat Peterson as the NFL's best running back. That player would be the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy.

Despite the Eagles' 26-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football, McCoy was the lone bright spot in Philadelphia's high-octane offense. The shifty back rushed for 158 yards on 20 attempts—an average of 7.9 yards per carry—and one score.

This is an impressive feat in its own right. However, this type of performance has not been a one-shot deal in 2013 for the running back they call "Shady."

McCoy torched the Washington Redskins in Week 1 to the tune of 184 yards on 31 carries for a 5.9 yard-per-carry average and one touchdown. He backed that performance up with yet another astounding one-man show against the San Diego Chargers in Week 2. This time, McCoy only carried 11 times for 53 yards—good for an average of 4.8 yards. But he also added five receptions for 114 yards to those totals.

Now, after three games in 2013, McCoy has rushed for 395 yards—while averaging 6.4 yards per carry—and totaled 119 yards receiving. His total yards from scrimmage currently sit at 514. That puts him on pace for 2,741 yards for the season.

Peterson finished his 2012 campaign with 2,314 yards from scrimmage—427 less than McCoy's current projection.

McCoy did not just burst onto the scene this year. He is a five-year veteran and has enjoyed past success—his best season coming in 2011, when he rushed for 1,309 yards, added 315 receiving yards and totaled 20 touchdowns for the year.

Unfortunately, injuries set McCoy back in 2012—he played in only 12 games.

Now, a revitalized McCoy has emerged as a perfect fit in new head coach Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense this season. This offensive scheme is the reason for the running back's newfound success.

Using a no-huddle offense, the Eagles make defensive substitutions between plays impossible. This causes defenders to get winded and, more importantly, personnel mismatches.

With Michael Vick at the helm, the opportunity for a quarterback run is always present. While defenders constantly have to focus on Vick's dual-threat capability, McCoy becomes the beneficiary when linebackers balk at any sign of the read option.

Adding deep-threat wide receiver DeSean Jackson into the mix makes McCoy all the more dangerous.

The fear of getting beaten deep is always there for any defense facing Jackson.

One of the fastest receivers in the league, Jackson is no stranger to being a constant home-run threat. In Week 2, the Chargers learned that the hard way after pulling safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to guard against the run—only to give up a 61-yard touchdown strike to the speedster.

The balance that the Eagles offense presents makes McCoy so very dangerous. This is something that Peterson does not have in Minnesota, where a stacked box is a typical sight for the reigning NFL MVP.

It was Peterson who said over the offseason that he is setting the bar for 2013 at 2,500 rushing yards. However, if anyone is getting remotely close to that total, it is McCoy.

What Peterson did last season was absolutely incredible.

To come away with the second-most single-season rushing yards in league history just months removed from a brutal knee injury is purely unfathomable. However, due to the supporting cast and offensive scheme that McCoy is currently working with in Philadelphia, we could be crowning a new rushing record-holder by season's end.