LeSean McCoy has had an incredible career. The veteran of nine NFL seasons has been among the best at his position for the entirety of his career, running with elite grace and ankle-breaking agility. As Shady nears 30 years old, some have begun to think about his career winding down, leading to debate about his place among the greats of the game.
If he were to retire today, McCoy would have a legitimate shot at making the Hall of Fame. If he plays for a few more years and continues to perform at a rate similar to what he’s accomplished in the last few years, that case will become much more concrete. LeSean McCoy is a Hall of Fame-worthy running back, but there are a few ways he could erase any debate about the subject.
As of the end of the 2017 season, McCoy has totaled 10,092 career rushing yards. He has compiled those yards on 2,185 carries, good for 4.6 yards per attempt. Overall, his yardage total is 29th in NFL history, just behind workhorse Ottis Anderson. If McCoy runs for 1,000 yards again in 2018, he will catapult all the way up to 17th, passing Fred Taylor and settling in right behind former Buffalo Bill (and Hall of Fame runner) Thurman Thomas. A second 1,000-yard season in 2019 would allow McCoy to surpass Thomas. A third 1,000-yard season would put McCoy in the top ten all-time, right behind Tony Dorsett.
McCoy has rushed for 1,000 yards in every season of his career where he has made at least 13 starts. Assuming good health and continued burst, he seems to be a lock to hit that number in 2018, and he is a good bet to do it again in 2019. While McCoy may be heading towards the age-30 “cliff” that befalls even the best running backs, he showed no signs of slowing down in 2017. He did gain a career-worst 4 yards per carry, but much of that can be chalked up to poor blocking early in the season. As the Bills’ offensive line became more comfortable in a new scheme (and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison employed more power-run looks that played to the line’s strength), McCoy’s numbers skyrocketed.
Also helping McCoy’s Hall case is his prowess as a receiver. His 441 catches put him 21st all-time among running backs, and leave him tied with Keith Jackson for 189th overall. Another season of 40 receptions would put McCoy 16th in running back receptions; a second 40-catch year would move him all the way up to 9th.
McCoy’s per-16-game averages are elite, as well. For his career, the average 16-game stretch gives Shady a stat line of 263 carries, 1,214 yards rushing, 8 rushing touchdowns, 53 receptions, 406 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns. Even with some regression due to age and a rollback in usage, McCoy should be able to maintain solid production for at least another two years, potentially more.
What does LeSean McCoy have to do in order to be a Hall of Fame inductee? For starters, he’ll need to retire, then wait until five years have passed so he will be eligible. His case is pretty clear-cut, and he should definitely be elected. In order to eliminate any debate at all about his credentials, playing three more years while staying healthy and productive should cement his legacy.
*All statistics courtesy of profootballreference.com