Fresh off breaking the Eagles' single-game rushing record after exploding for 217 yards on 29 carries against the Detroit Lions, LeSean McCoy continues to build his case for being the NFL's best running back.
His main competition is Adrian Peterson, who has dominated the league for years but might not be able to take part in a showdown between the two on Sunday because of a foot injury. McCoy, ever the competitor, would relish the opportunity go head-to-head with the reigning rushing champion and all-time great.
"Yeah, for sure," McCoy responded when asked if he was looking forward to the potential matchup. "(Peterson's) one of the best backs to ever play this game, I think. The last couple years he's been very consistent putting numbers up, and his play speaks for itself. Even when I saw Minnesota on the schedule, my eyes got big. I felt like it was a chance to go one-on-one against one of the best backs.
"You always want to compete and go against one of the elite guys in the NFL, but the big challenge is really just going to Minnesota and getting a win. We have a lot we're playing for, and it's a big game. Hopefully, he's healthy and he does play. I think it's a nice challenge for our team and also for myself. I think a one-on-one battle, it's another tool, something to put on the bulletin board just to go out and play hard."
While everyone on the outside might be showering McCoy with praise and bestowing upon him the crown of best running back in the NFL, he is not one to toot his own horn so definitively.
"I definitely think I'm in the top five – top three, I feel like," McCoy said. "(Adrian Peterson) right now, for sure – the last couple years, that's what I look at, the last three years, four years, you have to put (Peterson) up there. You can go down the list, from Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore's another guy who's been doing it consistently. I like (Marshawn) Lynch, too. There are a lot of different guys I could name. I don't like to go in order, just like to give you a couple guys to think about, some of the elite guys. Arian Foster, even though he's banged up, he's still up there as one of the better backs."
Even though McCoy may go the modest route in his answer, players of his caliber don't accomplish such lofty feats without a supreme level of self-confidence and belief that they are the best player at their position. In addition to that disposition, there must, of course, be a transcendent combination of skills that enables a player to regularly dazzle and succeed so proficiently on the field.
"What makes you special?" McCoy asked. "Guys who have pretty good offensive lines, they'll get yards, but what else do you do that's special? Is he a shifty back? Does he run you over? Can he catch, can he run routes? Is he a mismatch for other defenders? What makes the guy special? All the guys I just named, I could give you two, three, four, five attributes that make them a special back."
Well, then, what makes McCoy special?
"I would say vision, very elusive, a long-distance guy and hard to tackle, running routes and catching the ball," McCoy said.
The popular sentiment going into this season was that Chip Kelly's offense would unleash McCoy's incredible potential – that he'd have a good chance at leading the league in rushing and perhaps break Wilbert Montgomery's franchise record of 1,512 rushing yards in a season, a mark that has stood for 34 years. After an auspicious start, his pace slowed when Nick Foles took over as quarterback and both feats seemed to be in peril going into last week's game. All of a sudden, an Adrian Peterson injury and 217 yards later, McCoy's first NFL season rushing crown and the Eagles' single-season rushing record are very much back in play. He is 84 yards ahead of Peterson, 142 yards ahead of Charles and needs 208 over the final three games to surpass Montgomery.
"I've met him," McCoy said of Montgomery, whom he knows through Paul Kreider, his high school coach. "He's a cool guy, knows tons about football and that would be something big to break his record."