When the Jacksonville Jaguars take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday one question will be on everyone’s mind: can the Jaguars shut down LeSean McCoy? McCoy was last year’s rushing leader and he is the most versatile and explosive weapon on the Eagles’ offense. If the Jags can’t shut him down then it will be incredibly difficult for the team to hang with the opposing offense.
McCoy has been known to dominate opposing defenses. Last year he put up a ridiculous 2,146 yards from scrimmage. McCoy wasted no time in earning the 2014 rushing title, racking up 184 yards on the ground in a week one win over the Washington Redskins. The highlight of the year came in week 13 against the Detroit Lions when McCoy put together 217 yards with a stunning 7.48 yards per carry average.
The Jaguars have their work cut out for them in week one of the regular season. Can the Jaguars shut down LeSean McCoy?
While we won’t know the answer until the game on Sunday, the Jaguars are boasting an improved defense. With a strong defensive line and a growing secondary, the Jags stand just as much of a chance as any at stopping McCoy. If they can hold him to 2.3 yards per carry like the New York Giants did in week five of last season, then the Jags would make a great leap forward.
It isn’t just McCoy’s running that destroys teams, though. It’s also his receiving. He accumulated 539 yards through the air last season with an impressive 10 yards per reception average. If the Jags hope to shut him down, they will have to have the defense key into everything the back does, on every play.
To that end, the Jaguars are going to need the defensive line to play extremely well, but also have either a third DB or a linebacker keyed to McCoy the whole game. As good as Paul Posluszny is at stopping the run, he won’t be able to be the guy on McCoy all the time. I think the Jags will have a good chance of limiting McCoy’s running lanes and ability to break into the second level of the defense, but it will be the receiving that they will have to worry about.
Nobody on the Jags D has yet shown that they can adequately handle players that dominate space like McCoy does. The Jags will have have a quality coverage player keyed in constantly and it’s not an enviable job for anybody in the secondary. While players like Johnathan Cyprien should be able to contribute a ton on defense, I’m not certain anybody has the experience or tools to counter McCoy’s ability get open, slip through the defense, and move rip off huge yards.
Heading into Sunday’s game, stopping McCoy – especially as a receiving threat – will be a headache for the Jags. This will have to be a team effort unless a player steps up considerably in the first week of the season.The defense will have to play smart and, maybe more importantly, play fast to keep up.