Welcome to CoachSpeak, our new feature here. Each week we will sit down with an assistant coach for a question-and-answer session. Today: running backs coach Duce Staley ...
Q. LeSean McCoy's numbers haven't been to the level of 2013. How has he reacted to some of the struggles?
Staley: "He's been fine, still being a leader. He's doing everything that he did last year when the numbers were up. He understands that, coming into this year, he has a target on his back. Each defensive coordinator is going out and saying, 'OK, listen, I'm not going to let LeSean McCoy beat me.' If you go back and watch the film of the first half of the season, you see a lot of different looks, from eight or nine in the box, you see that when he runs an option route (in the passing game), they're double-teaming him and (Darren) Sproles. These defensive coordinators are doing their homework and did their homework all offseason and now they come out to stop him and they're saying, 'Whoever else you have, beat us.'"
Q. What kind of production and performance have you seen from LeSean this year?
Staley: "I think it's been good. When you watch the film, and not trying to be redundant here, but you have to understand what the defense is trying to do to you. He's starting to adjust with that. In Arizona, a defense that came with multiple blitzes and that was No. 1 in the league against the run, I thought he went out and ran well. Was he perfect? No. Did he go out and be as successful as he wants to be? Not to his standards. He wants to be great and he loves to watch film and work on his game and improve in every area that he can. The season is not over. It's never how you start; it's how you finish, and look for LeSean to finish strong."
Q. You had watched Darren Sproles for years and you watched film on him and then the Eagles traded for him and you had a chance to work with him. Now that you've had a chance to be hands-on with him, what do you think?
Staley: "First off, I was a huge fan of Sproles. When you look at him as small as he is and he walks through a door and you say, 'He can NOT be a football player.' Well, he may be small, but he has the heart of a giant and he shows it every day. He comes to work every day. For him taking care of his body, to working on the field to working in the weight room, he gives it 110 percent. You see the production. Going through what he went through in San Diego, going to New Orleans and going through that situation, normally you see people of that caliber tend to shut it down. Not Sproles. He's continued to work hard."
Q. How do defenses react when Sproles is on the field?
Staley: "They cross their fingers first. They cross their fingers and they say, 'I hope we can cover him.' But I don't think there's a linebacker in the league that can really cover him. Of course, what they've been doing is they've been trying to double (cover) him whether it's a linebacker or as safety or a defensive end. They've been trying to chip him and not let him get out as fast."
Q. He hasn't had many carries in his career and all of a sudden he comes here and he's being used as a running back. Is he a running back?
Staley: "Why is that so surprising to people? That's what he is. What he is is a running back that can go and run great routes on a linebacker, great routes on a safety, great routes on a corner. Then you can hand the ball off to him and I challenge a linebacker, 'Let me know when you see him? Much less tackle the guy. When can you see him behind those big linemen?' And he's able to run just as hard as any running back in this league."
Q. The offensive line has had a lot of change this season. How does that impact a running back?
Staley: "You can go to the corporate world. What about when there is a lot of change in those offices. You have a new manager that comes in and wants to do something totally different from someone who has done it for 20 years. You have to remember that this offensive line was together for 17 games last season. It was a well-oiled machine. You saw linemen (Jason Peters and Evan Mathis) going to the Pro Bowl. A running back (McCoy) went to the Pro Bowl. A quarterback (Nick Foles) went to the Pro Bowl. It was simply because the offensive line jelled early in the season and they were able to continue throughout."