McCoy had 10 carries for 31 yards against New England, 17 attempts for 84 yards at Seattle and then 27 carries and 38 yards in Miami. Add it up and McCoy has 44 carries for 153 yards, an average of 3.5 yards per attempt.
It is clear that teams would like to eliminate the danger of McCoy and limit his cut-back lanes. Miami ran many run blitzes and aggressively attacked the line of scrimmage, with all due respect to McCoy's ability to reverse field and make big yards that way.
So how do the Eagles adjust their offensive scheme? They're going to have to do something against the Jets, who will be just as aggressive and physical as any defense the Eagles have faced this season. Rex Ryan isn't a shrinking personality of a head coach, if you know what I mean. He is not going to allow McCoy to run through lanes to get to the second level of his defense. He is going to try to hem in McCoy, smother him, and get to McCoy behind the line of scrimmage.
Thirteen of McCoy's 27 carries on Sunday in Miami resulted in no gain or a loss of yardage. After some success in the first half, the offense bogged down dramatically in the final two quarters.
So, the chore ahead is substantial. What happens when defenses take McCoy away? Can the Eagles force the ball to him in the passing game, as they did here and there on Sunday? Or do they spread the football around and attack weak spots in the Jets defense?
One thing is for sure: Michael Vick and the passing game have to be much better than it was in Miami. There was too much pressure from the blitzing Dolphins. Vick was off in his timing as well. He had a few passes tipped, and must get better depth on his deep drops, as well as his movement in the pocket to create passing lanes.
If the Jets show a single high safety look, the Eagles have to hit the openings in the middle of the field. The offense needs to get Jeremy Maclin back into the passing game. DeSean Jackson has to be a threat, as he was in Miami. Tight end Brent Celek looms large in this game.
To score points, the Eagles must throw the football effectively. You can point all you want to the run/pass ratio, but the key to putting points on the board is the passing game and the explosive plays. The Eagles need improvement there, and then the running game will go.
In other news and notes ...
- OK, so the Steve Smith Experiment wasn't very productive. He caught 11 passes and never found his niche in the offense. He didn't move the chains as a third-down receiver. He didn't give the Eagles that extra weapon. The knee injury he suffered in 2010 as a member of the Giants didn't come all the way back, and on Monday Smith was placed on Injured Reserve with a bone bruise in his knee. Smith signed a one-year deal prior to the regular season and, well, we'll see what happens next year. He was a Pro Bowl receiver in 2009 and it was worth a shot for the Eagles, because at the time the Eagles weren't sure about Maclin's health and they wanted more depth at wide receiver.
- What can we expect from Cedric Thornton, the rookie defensive tackle promoted from the practice squad to the active roster? Not sure if he will play this year, but the Eagles really like him as a prospect. Thornton needs to get his body stronger, for sure, and his offseason is exceptionally important. But Thornton showed in training camp that he has quickness and a bit of nasty. He has a chance to play in this league. I see him as a pass-rushing tackle and he can put on a few pounds and get stronger, he can be more than that.
- I watched Tom Nelson, signed last week when Colt Anderson went to IR, and Nelson has a lot of speed and put himself in position on special teams. He made a tackle and was very close to downing Chas Henry's punt at the 2-yard line. Nelson has to make that play, obviously, but he hadn't played all year and clearly has a lot of ability to help the Eagles on special teams.
- Juan Castillo speaks a lot about the "improvement" of the defense, and I think we saw that on Sunday in Miami in the form of some well-executed blitzes that got home. Castillo appears to be mixing in more and more blitzes, which helps the back end of the defense. Castillo, of course, also credits the back end for helping the pass rush. The coverage was excellent against Miami. I liked the aggressive approach.
- Celek has a lot of Mark Bavaro in him. There are few tougher players who have suited up for the Eagles. Celek has had a very nice season and could be used even more in the passing game. He gets open and has worked very hard on his consistency catching the football and, obviously, the man is a load to tackle.
- No, I didn't like the throwback from DeSean Jackson to Curtis Marsh on the punt return with the Eagles holding a 17-7 lead, but I respect the call. Jackson has to sell the play better and Marsh has to be more secure with the football and there is no doubt that calling that play at that stage of the game was risky and probably unwise, but I am always a fan of trick plays.
- Underrated blocking by fullback Owen Schmitt on both McCoy touchdown runs in Miami. Schmitt does a very good job as the Eagles have improved in short yardage and in goal-line situations.