LeSean McCoy should want to run for 2,000 yards this season. He should want to do it every season, because that’s his job: to run very far, and very often.
Yesterday McCoy told the Internet that 2,000 yards is indeed in his crosshairs.
This is THE YEAR!!!! My potential is #2000yards. Will I reach it? Stepping up my training and signs point to yes.
— Lesean McCoy (@CutonDime25) August 7, 2014
That’s a worshiped number for running backs, and a mountain only seven in league history have conquered. Eric Dickerson is the single-season rushing leader with 2,105 yards, a record nearly broken two years ago by Adrian Peterson (2,097 yards).
For most, tossing out that goal would be little more than early-August dreaming, the kind of glory vision soon squashed violently. But it seems feasible and downright possible for McCoy after a 2013 season when he led the league in rushing with a career high 1,607 yards. Really, what’s 393 yards between friends, right?
It may be feasible, but that doesn’t make it likely. McCoy was given 314 carries in 2013, a league high and far more than his previous career watermark of 273. Now Darren Sproles is aboard to potentially vacuum up some carries.
Those closely watching Eagles training camp think Sproles — whose single-season carry high is only 83 — isn’t a significant threat. Sheil Kapadia noted that in fourth quarters last year McCoy averaged 6.0 yards per carry, showing no ill effects from the heavy burden.
But even if McCoy’s carries were to remain at 300-ish, that’s likely still not nearly enough. When Peterson nearly broke Dickerson’s record in 2012 he needed 348 carries to get there. And when Dickerson set his record a football was placed in his gut 379 times. Looking at the seven running backs who have topped 2,000 yards on the ground, their average carry total during that season was 361.5.
Beyond sheer volume there’s also the problem of pace. There’s a reason why you don’t need all your fingers to count how many running backs have topped 2,000 yards. Not only does the back in question have to be incredible, he has to be incredible consistently.
Consider: in 2012 Peterson averaged 131.1 rushing yards per game. Yes, that’s simply stupid, and it still doesn’t seem real. But even more absurd was his stretch of 10 games starting in Week 7. During that time he logged seven games with over 150 yards (including two with over 200), and his per game average was 159.8 yards. Yet although he joined the esteemed 2,000 yard club, even at that blistering pace Peterson still couldn’t match Dickerson.
The flawless pace required to become a chartered 2,000 yard club member is even more evident when we look at the “lower” end. O.J. Simpson rushed for 2,003 yards in 1973, doing it in only 14 games. Like Peterson, Simpson exploded during a handful of games (three with over 200 rushing yards), but his baseline was established by 10 weeks with over 120 yards.
No one is doubting McCoy’s talent, and ability to separate tacklers from their underpants. But maintaining the pace for his goal is a mountainous task, one made more difficult if his workload is lightened even slightly.