JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When it comes to stopping --or at least slowing down -- Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes said it’s important for tacklers to never think they have McCoy tackled.
Until McCoy is on the ground with an official reaching for the football, he is still a threat to break free.
"He has one that one quick-step burst and then it’s like -- ahhh -- then he freezes you up and he’s up the field and he’s getting another 5, 6 7, 8 yards," Hayes said. "That’s one of things that makes him great."
Making sure McCoy doesn’t have those kinds of plays is the biggest key for the Jaguars to upset the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
That is not exactly a secret, but teams weren’t able to do it last season in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. McCoy led the NFL in rushing (1,607 yards) and total yards from scrimmage (2,146). He averaged 5.1 yards per carry, fourth among running backs with at least 100 carries.
He was a big-play machine, too. He had 17 rushes or receptions of at least 20 yards and nine for at least 30 yards last season, including four for touchdowns.
"He does things that if it’s coached, I’d like to know how it’s coached because he goes from this gap to this gap to this gap, give ground and come back around," coach Gus Bradley said. "You really have to pay attention to the edges. He’s got really good vision. He is unique in his style. We haven’t faced a guy like this in the preseason. It’s a great challenge for us."
To prepare for McCoy, the Jaguars have used running back Denard Robinson as a stand-in. They have actually told him to cut certain ways on certain runs and to try and reverse field and give ground to get to the edge to give the defense an idea of what to expect.
"Some guys can hit a gap and jump and change directions immediately. That’s LeSean McCoy," Bradley said. "Fred Taylor was a guy that could do that -- boom, hit and get to the edge really fast. You see those guys on film [and] it really jumps out at you. You have to have good leverage on a back like that. It’s important that you get everyone to the ball."
Gang-tackling is a priority, too -- as long as everyone understands treating McCoy like a regular running back is a mistake.
"A bruiser is going to be [a] downhill [runner]. It makes it a lot easier [to stop them]," Hayes said. "Lower your head, tackle, hit him, get him on the ground. With [McCoy] it’s moreso you have to be on your keys and understand the fundamentals of outside-in tackling, inside-out and trusting your teammates. That’s what makes it so challenging and makes him great."