Analysis

Is this the end for LeSean McCoy?

LeSean “Shady” McCoy has had a fantastic career. The 11-year veteran has over 11,000 yards rushing and just shy of 4,000 yards receiving. McCoy ranks 22nd all-time in the NFL for rushing yards. But Shady’s productivity dropped significantly in the last two seasons. And this makes one wonder if this is the end of the line for the dynamic running back.

To start the 2019 season, Kansas City split carries fairly evenly between McCoy and Damien Williams. Though Williams was the starter, McCoy was the more productive back. An injury sidelined Williams in weeks 3 and 4. Shady played well in Williams’ absence and looked to have secured RB1 status for himself. He remained the starter until week 9. And that is when circumstances began to change for McCoy.

Damien Williams had a monster game in week 9, rushing for 125 yards on 12 carries. Reid decided to stick with the hot hand and named Williams the starter for week 10. In a surprising move, McCoy was a healthy scratch that week. According to a source, this was a predetermined rest week for McCoy. The source stated that the Chiefs wanted McCoy to be fresh down the stretch. While this sounded like a logical reason, Chiefs fans couldn’t help but wonder if there were not more to the story. McCoy had a costly fumble in week 8 but had been active for week 9. Perhaps the 31-year-old really did need some time to let his body heal. We may never know for sure.

Damien Williams sustained a rib injury the following week that caused him to miss three games. McCoy was once again named the starter in Williams’ absence but was not very effective in the run game. Former Chief Spencer Ware re-signed with the team in week 14 and he was on the field more than McCoy while Williams was out. Although Shady had not fumbled since week 13 something caused the coaching staff to lose trust in the veteran running back.

McCoy did not see the field very much in the latter part of the season. It was week 15 the last time LeSean saw any significant action. That game, against the Denver Broncos at home, McCoy was only on the field for 17 offensive snaps. In 25% of total offensive snaps that game McCoy had 6 rushes for 16 yards. It was not a very productive outing.

LeSean McCoy only took one more snap for the rest of the season. Kansas City played two more regular-season games and three playoff games. One snap in five games! In fact, that one snap came in the only game in which McCoy was active the rest of the season. Shady was not inactive due to injury either, he was healthy, he just wasn’t allowed to play.

Damien Williams made a strong case to be named RB1 next season and Darwin Thompson has progressed enough to supplant McCoy on the depth chart. Darrel Williams played well before getting injured and is under contract through 2020. Being a healthy scratch for four of the last five games of the season is a pretty clear indication of McCoy’s future with the Chiefs. We may never know why he was inactive for so many games to close out the year. No matter what the reason it is extremely unlikely that Kansas City will re-sign LeSean McCoy.

McCoy was asked at the Super Bowl if he would ride off into the sunset if the Chiefs won. He stated that he is not ready to retire and that he can still play. McCoy will be 32 when the 2020 season begins. History has shown that RBs over 30 rarely have much success in this league. It was clear this season that McCoy is not the player he once was. Can he still play? Absolutely. If McCoy wants to play next season, he should be able to find a team that needs a solid back up. But his days as an RB1 are over.

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