LeSean McCoy had a tremendous and, actually, underrated 2016 season. The latter part of that sentence was due to; the Bills missing the playoffs, and outrageous campaigns from Le’Veon Bell, Jay Ajayi, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson.
Bleacher Report’s Marcus Mosher tracked how well running backs ran against different amounts of “defenders in the box” during the 2016 season.
Typically, an eight-man box is referred to as a box being “stacked.” A seven-man box is typical albeit not “light” to run against.
Here’s how some of the biggest names at the running back position performed against seven-man boxes in 2016.
Jay Ajayi vs X Defenders In The Box in 2016: pic.twitter.com/0RUaclXLbY— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) May 9, 2017
McCoy trailed only Jordan Howard in the ever-important yards-per-carry statistic, and his three rushing touchdowns tied with Elliott and LeGarrette Blount. Impressive.
How about against truly stacked, eight-man boxes?
Shady was the leader in yards-per-attempt in this category, .34 yards ahead of Ajayi, the second-place finisher, and more than a full yard ahead of the third-place finisher DeMarco Murray.
Also, he had the most touchdowns against eight-man boxes with six.
As for McCoy’s complete evaluation:
Here's the updated LeSean McCoy vs X Defenders In The Box: pic.twitter.com/uC7NfHTSCP— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 16, 2017
These numbers show McCoy simply didn’t thrive due to a plethora of five- and-six-man boxes during his spectacular 2016 season.
He averaged 5.71 yards per touch last year, a figure higher than Johnson’s (5.67), Elliott’s (5.63), and Bell’s (5.60). However, the Bills runner was the only one of those backs to not receive over 300 touches in 2016.
(Ajayi averaged 4.95 yards on 287 touches.)
There’s an influx of young, talented running backs taking over the ground game in the NFL — and that will continue this year — but last season, McCoy proved he’s still among the game’s elite.