• January 17, 2022

LeSean McCoy Must Adjust To Zone Blocking Scheme More Than His Backups

LeSeanMcCoy9Eagles Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy is the starter and the best running back on the football team, but the running styles of Bryce Brown and Chris Polk fit the zone blocking running scheme better than McCoy’s style of carrying the football.  The inside zone and outside zone running attack which Chip Kelly espouses require the running back to make one cut and hit the hole at full speed.  He’s not supposed to spending any time dancing in the backfield.

They take a lateral step while taking the handoff, then head downfield once they spot the hole.  They’re not supposed to waste time, dancing behind the line of scrimmage.  It’s supposed to be a lateral step, get the football, and head downhill, no dancing.

The offensive line fires out at whichever defensive player is in front of them.  They block whomever is in that area and that’s why it’s called a zone blocking scheme. They try to knock the defender off the ball and to their left or to their right.  They want to get him moving to one side or the other figuring that a natural hole will open up if they get the defenders moving.  They let the running back find the hole regardless of wherever it opens up.  The opening could occur in one direction or the other.

Both Brown and Polk are one cut running backs, who look for the hole, make one cut and they’re going down hill.  McCoy likes to dance and use his instincts to make yardage when he gets his hands on the football.   He’s an improvisational running back.  Like Barry Sanders, he could go anywhere with the football.  He wants to breaks the rules sometimes, but this running attack isn’t really built for that.

This blocking scheme and running attack is supposed to eliminate the improvisation of the running back.  Like a robot the running back is supposed take a lateral step, get the football then head toward the line of scrimmage while looking for the hole.

This running attack is not for a dancing running back.  This is a one cut and downhill attack.

McCoy is going to need to make an adjustment or he will become frustrated with this offense.  I’ll be very interested in seeing how things turn out.  I predict that early on in the preseason, Brown and Polk may have more success than McCoy, until he makes the adjustment.  He’ll get it and flourish in it, but right now, his backups fit the running attack better than he does.

The Denver Broncos under Mike Shanahan were the first team to incorporate this rushing attack with Terrell Davis back in the mid-1990’s.  They won two Super Bowls with it.  Kelly has taken it to another level by adding the read option to it.  Davis was a one-cut back, who was not a dancer.   Shanahan is using the zone blocking running attack in Washington and it allowed rookie Alfred Morris, who is just an average back to run for 1613 yards in his first year.

Shanahan was able to talk all types of mediocre backs and make them successful with the zone blocking scheme.  There haven’t been too many top level improvisational backs like McCoy who have flourished in it, but if this offensive line gets the defensive linemen moving, you can be sure McCoy will find the hole.

“I’m studying, taking what I learn on to the field”, McCoy said. “It’s different, but I will get it. It’s just a matter of time, but it’s tough.”

“The offense as a whole allows players to be players, just to do their best,” Brown said. “If you see (the hole), wherever it’s at, if you see it, if you feel it, just (be) instinctive, and you just have to make a play.”

“I feel a lot better,” Polk said. “I lost 15 pounds, but I still got my strength. My style is one cut, get up field.”

Polk has shocked the coaches with his ability to run routes and catch the football out of the backfield.  At his lighter weight, he’s like a different player.

McCoy suffered a minor knee injury on Monday and missed the last part of the practice.


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  • one thing i noticed when i saw mccoy yesterday was that it looks to me like he put on some lbs and got more muscular. anyone else notice the same?

    i said the same thing about mccoy the second chip was hired that he could struggle but dude looks like a bruiser and looks like he can adapt but the question remains can he?

  • So are we saying that the Eagles are installing a read-option passing attack that doesn’t fit 2 of the 3 QBs (and arguably the best QB) and a running attack that doesn’t fit the best rb?

    • sounds like it. i have no reason to believe mccoy cant tweak his game and running style. but vick is vick, cant be helped but hey at least he will have a new/fresh excuse when all is said and done this year

      • Or it could be installing an offense for the future since none of the QBs on this team are the long term solution.

  • Eagles News

    Riley Cooper Back at practice today

  • I believe Joe Gibbs and OL Coach Jim Hanifan with the Washington Redskins in the 80’s employed the “Zone-Scheme” before Shanahan in the 90’s when they had the Hogs and RB John Riggins ….

    As far as McCoy, he has to reduce his negative carries and his 1-2 Yard gains and stop going for th ehome run all the time.. If the play is called off Tackle and there is a seem for a 4-5-6 yard gain, then take it and keep the chains moving,, At times he gives up on the play too quickly looking for the cutback and the big play
    Bryce Brown really struggled with this after his 2 Big Games versus the banged up Cowboys and poor Panther Run Defense.. In his final 3-4 Games he was looking for the homne-run and trying to bounce every run to the outside..
    One thing I do know, both McCoy and Brown better learn how and commit to block a lot better than they did last Season for Chip Kelly is not going to put up with their half-assed blocking attempts.. McCoy can do it, just got lazy last Season, Brown has not shown his ability to stick his nose in their and keep his head up and take on blitzing Defenders..

    • Pman…. and that is the thing here…. Kelly will sit whomever isnt giving him what he asks/needs. Thats what Andy lost. We heard over and over how Andy was a system guy…. but the last 5 years or so…. im not sure I had seen that. Other then the system of Bombs away…. he basically had no system.

      Kelly has a plan…. and it may not work but….. cant be worse than what we have had lately.

      • I agree with you Stevo,
        This will be the most exciting Pre-Season and Regular Season to watch unfold just for seeing a Coaching Staff utilize their entire Roster, trying different tings and enough of the same old,same old of Coach AR which became stale, and very predictable.. This is a whole new deal we as Fans will see… I think a real advantage that Kelly can start the Season with is the fact that they are playing 3 Games in 11 Days to Open the Season (short trip to Washginton, Home vs Chargers & Chiefs on a short Week) who don’t know what to expect from Kelly and his new Staff, so basically the Eagles will be home the first 3 weeks of the Season and should have lots of time to maximize Practice and Game Planning time .. and If I were he and his Staff, I would run dual QB’s the first Couple of Games just to throw these Teams and Defensive Coordinators into a nightmare to prepare for …
        Defensively, the Eagles will be a work in progress with as many as 18-20 Players rotating in and out of the line-up based on down and distance, opponents, score of the game and time left.. Keep as many Players fresh these first few games and keep rotating them in and out to again, keep the opposing Teams guessing on what the Eagles base Defense really is … Switch up from 3-4 to a 4-3 .. Move LB Graham,Barwin & Kendricks all over the place, Play 3 Safeties and play a Cover 3 on occasions, Play 4 CB’s 2 LB’s and 1 Safety and play a Diamond Formation in the Secondary.. get Creative and mix it up out of the Gate and keep some of these early opponents on their Toes and especially with 2 of them (Chargers/Chiefs on short weeks having to come east to Philly)

        Basically the Eagles

        • Paulman, if the Eagles are a bad team I don’t really want to win coming out of the gate by surprising teams, unless it gets the Birds into the playoffs. If it means 6-10 vs 4-12 I’ll take 4-12.

          • Why go 4-12 if you can win 6-7 Games…
            You play to Win and Compete in as many Games as Possible to build for Success for now and in the Future..
            Does Drafting at #15 versus #10 really make that much of a Difference in building a COnsistent Winner… Look at the Steelers,Ravens,PAtriots,Packers, Giants, etc,etc.. They are always selecting in the 20’s or higher in their Drafts every year and still produce WInners more times than not.. It’s the System and the Coaching you have in place that breeds success, not picking 5th, 9th, 18th or 28th…
            Look at all these Teams that year after year have had Top #10 PIcks and still stink .. (Raiders,BIlls,Browns,Jaguars, etc,etc)

            • Paulman, on your game today! Good posts!

              • Thnx RT, I have some new Medication and so far, so good.. Ha ha

  • I heard the Eagles D got lit up against Brady today. Sal Pal was on with Mike Miss on 97.5. He said it was so easy for Brady passing against the Eagles DB’s, it was like pitch and catch. This D is going to suck ass.

    • Diddy– That was only in the 1 on 1s, not when it was 11 on 11. Believe me I know, the birds liked good as a whole but not in 1 on 1 DBs verse pats WRs. Heard Cox, Kendrick, Ryans, Boykin all looked sharp on defense

  • Cool JH thanks

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