Pats have hands full with McCoy

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Pats have hands full with McCoy

FOXBORO The New England Patriots have seen their share of talented running backs this season.

There's talented running backs, and then there's Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy.

The third-year running back may be the most complete ball-carrier the Pats see all season. His NFL-leading 1,019 yards rushing stands out, obviously. Even more impressive is the variety of ways he goes about getting them.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has seen plenty of video of McCoy leading up to Sunday's game in Philadelphia.

When asked what jumps off the screen about McCoy's game, Belichick responded, "he's unbelievably quick; he's got tremendous quickness."

But if McCoy's game were primarily about speed, containing him would be a lot easier to do.

"He's you don't see anyone tackle him one-on-one," Belichick said. "You need a group of guys around him."

The Patriots faced a similar dilemma earlier in the season when they played at Oakland and their standout running back, Darren McFadden. McFadden came into their Week 4 matchup averaging 131 yards rushing. In New England's 31-19 win, the Patriots held him to just 75 yards on 14 carries. And keep in mind, McFadden broke off one long run of 26 yards in that game.

Limiting McCoy's ability to make the big play, will be much easier said than done.

One of the reasons he has been such an dynamic running back this season has been his ability to break off long runs. The third-year running back has 38 runs of 10 or more yards, tops in the NFL.

Belichick also believes McCoy's strength factors into his success on the ground as well.

"He gets through the line. Guys get a shot at him, and he's able to run through them," Belichick said. 'I'm not saying he's a big-time power runner like (New York Giants running back Brandon) Jacobs. He's got good playing strength."

And unlike most speedy tailbacks, McCoy has also shown the ability to steadily improve as the game goes on. Of his 10 rushing touchdowns, six have come in the second half (tops in the NFL). When he carries the ball 21 or more times, he's averaging 6.6 yards per carry which is also tops in the NFL.

McCoy's versatility reminds some of a former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who was one of the franchise's all-time rushing leaders.

"I think he's better than Westbrook," Belichick said. "Westbrook's pretty good. This guy's pretty good now. I'd say he's quicker than Westbrook. Westbrook may be a little stronger, I don't know. This guy's a handful."

Just Belichick being Belichick at Friday presser

Just Belichick being Belichick at Friday presser

On Wednesday, the Patriots media room was festooned with AFC Championship Game adornments. A big red backdrop behind the podium, Patriots and Steelers helmets arranged on a table facing each other with the Lamar Hunt AFC Champion Trophy in the middle. 

Bill Belichick, who's not big on festoons, noted the helmets during his press conference and deadpanned, "So exciting...". That clip got some run. 

On Friday, when asked to recall his first Conference Championship as a coach, he mentioned the 2001 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh and the fact that Belichick, Lawyer Milloy and Tom Brady were all required to fly to Pittsburgh on the Friday before the game to do media duties. 

"That was awesome," Belichick snarked. Then, looking to the area where the display was on Wednesday, Belichick smiled and said, "Where's all the stuff from Wednesday? Did it get thrown out?"

He is the turd in the NFL's punch bowl and it's endlessly amusing. 

Belichick not focused on Trump shout-out before inauguration: 'We've got a big game'

Belichick not focused on Trump shout-out before inauguration: 'We've got a big game'

FOXBORO -- During a dinner for donors at Union Station in Washington, D.C. on Thursday night, Donald Trump name-dropped Bill Belichick on two separate occasions. It marked what might've been the first time a president-elect publicly shouted out an NFL coach on the eve of his inauguration in the office's history.

Trump and Belichick have a long-standing friendship, Belichick explained back in November. Still, on Friday morning, the Patriots commander-in-chief had little reaction to his name being mentioned by Trump the night before. 

"We've got a big game," Belichick said matter-of-factly. 

There was little chance Belichick would utter anything else. He's still in preparation mode, still trying to out-work the Steelers in order to have his team at its best Sunday night. 

It's that approach that urged Trump to mention Belichick in the first place.

"I out-worked everybody" during the election, Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Trump also mentioned the four-time Super Bowl-winning head coach while in the process of pointing out Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft during the dinner. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob."