This week's Hot Button debate topic on ESPN.com is "Who is the most underrated running back in the NFL?" Ashley Fox takes the side of Chicago's Matt Forte while John Clayton says it's the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy:
His nickname might be the most fitting for his situation as any in the NFL. At Pitt, he was called "Shady." In Philadelphia, he plays in the shadows of Eagles stars Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Forte might be the main force in Chicago. McCoy isn't drawing the headlines meriting his production. He's under the radar.
For one thing, no one talks about McCoy's contract. He's in the third year of his rookie deal. Nothing is in the works. He's makes $525,000 this year and is scheduled to make around $610,000 next year.
As for his performance, McCoy is one of the most exciting backs in the league and has been since he entered. The big thing is that he keeps getting better.
Tough to evaluate this from here. McCoy is surely not under the radar on an NFC East blog, so our perspective on this is a bit skewed. If the national perception is that McCoy is not one of the very best backs in the NFL, then I would say I agree with John that he's underrated. That could be because the Eagles have been such a pass-first offense in recent years, because Vick contributes so much to their rushing totals or because he hasn't been in the league long enough to establish himself in that conversation.
Whatever the reason, Eagles fans had better hope McCoy isn't underrated among members of the Eagles' coaching staff. Because the 28 carries he got two weeks ago against the Redskins should have been an eye-opener. Not only is McCoy one of the most electric players in the league, but he has now also shown the ability to be a workhorse back -- the kind of guy who can help you run out the clock and preserve a lead.
Going forward this season, the Eagles need to lean much more on McCoy than they have in the past. If they can lead the league in rush yards, they have a chance to recover and save their playoff and Super Bowl dreams. Relying more on McCoy is safer than chucking the ball downfield, will help protect Vick better and will give teams even more headaches than they already have when dealing with the array of offensive weapons the Eagles possess. McCoy may be underrated in some places, but if the Eagles are smart, they're going to put him front and center for the rest of this season.