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RB McCoy Among Franchise Elite

Perhaps it is stepping on hallowed toes to suggest that, already, in his third NFL season, McCoy is as good as any back the Eagles have in the modern era. I did not see Steve Van Buren, the Pro Football Hall of Fame member who led the Eagles to NFL Championships in 1948 and 1949, nor did I witness the three seasons of Ollie Matson, who went on to greatness in his career.

Montgomery was a focus in my young years obsessing about the Eagles, and he was a truly great football player. The Eagles, in the years since the mid-1980s, have been blessed with good backs like Watters, the multi-dimensional power back whose off-the-field personality overshadowed his great play; Staley, who did it all for the Eagles went they didn't have much else; and Westbrook, whose ability to line up all over the formation created favorable matchups for the offense and who made the Eagles go.

Westbrook spent a year with McCoy, teaching the rookie the ways of the NFL, and of being an Eagle. It was a valuable experience for McCoy, a talented but immature young man who showed glimpses of greatness as a rookie.

He was so promising; in fact, that the Eagles turned the halfback job over to McCoy while Westbrook suffered through some injuries woes in 2009 and the offense didn't skip a beat.

Since then, McCoy has been brilliant. McCoy led the team in rushing as a rookie with 637 yards, and added 40 receptions. Last year, McCoy gained 1,080 rushing yards and caught 78 passes, leading NFL running backs in receptions and pacing the NFC in total yards from scrimmage.

Ahead is the franchise record for most rushing yards for a back after three seasons here: Montgomery gained 2,915 yards in his first three years here; McCoy currently has 1,839 yards. McCoy is also less than 1,000 yards away from topping Montgomery's 3,622 total yards from scrimmage in the first three seasons as an Eagle.

Beyond the numbers -- and when you look deeper, you see that McCoy's production is remarkable considering his moderate number of touches -- McCoy is exactly what the Eagles need. He is a strong, productive player who is just as dangerous between the tackles as he is on the edge, as a runner as he is a receiver.

McCoy is often chastised for the way he carries the football -- out, away from his body, cradled tightly in his right hand -- but he has just two fumbles lost in his two-plus seasons.

If there is anything to keep an eye on with McCoy, it is how high he can go. Isn't he on the path to the Pro Bowl and beyond? Is there a more valuable player on this team than McCoy, who opened the season with a receiving touchdown and a running touchdown, to go along with 122 rushing yards, in St. Louis?

In many ways, McCoy's greatest strengths become most evident when the game reaches the fourth quarter. He dominated on Sunday with 95 yards and a 49-yard touchdown on 4 carries. Last season, McCoy led the league's running backs with 339 yards in the fourth quarter, averaging 5.9 yards a carry.

Is it too early in his career find a place for McCoy among the best of the best in this franchise's history? In the historical sense, probably. In the real-time sense, no. McCoy is a star running back on a week-to-week basis. There is no question about any facet of his game. He delivers every time he touches the ball for the Eagles.

His value to the team and his versatility and durability and production push McCoy into the elite category here. McCoy is the 2011 version of Westbrook with more power, maybe more consistency, perhaps not as many ankle-breaking moves. McCoy may not be quite at the level Westbrook was as a receiver, but he is very, very close.

One day, if he continues along this path, McCoy will shatter every Eagles record and will be universally recognized for his greatness. As we watch now, day to day, appreciate what you see. McCoy is the Next Great Eagles Running Back, arriving earlier than perhaps anyone expected.

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