Standing up in front of the Kansas City media for the first time on Monday, running back LeSean McCoy summed up his decision to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs in one word: home.
And not in the sense of a particular location; McCoy’s “home,” as he would explain, was back with Andy Reid.
”My last two years at Buffalo, I’ve had so many trade requests,” he said. “My agent would be on the phone, ‘Hey, we’ve got a trade request.’ Back and forth. Rumors every year. I thought it would be with coach Reid, this was when (Kareem) Hunt was gone and just left, and then it was the Eagles. I said, ‘OK, I’m going home somewhere. If it is back home in Philadelphia or back home with Big Red, it is going to happen.’
“We have always stayed in touch. We always have been friends, from his wife to his kids, and then everybody back in Philadelphia. I knew it would be one of those two. My agent, Drew Rosenhaus, he kind of figured that himself. It worked out.”
Reid originally drafted McCoy back in 2009 when he was still head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I love Coach Reid,” McCoy said. “The biggest thing for me is that he has just always been honest, since day one. He shoots you straight. His family is the same way. As a coach, I’ve learned so much from him. Now coming here, I am sure he can teach me different things. I am an older player and I want to stretch my career out as long as possible. I want to be productive, as well. I think just playing with him, the type of roles and set ups – and when you watch the tape of the offense and how they go up and down the field with small plays to big shots, and to utilizing all of the open space for his players. When you see that, you fall in love with that. He does a great job of getting the talent. A lot of these guys were drafted here, and they get better with time. He gets a lot of that credit.”
McCoy’s best season under Reid in Philadelphia was 2011, when he tallied more than 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns. With that production, McCoy was named an All-Pro for the first of two times during his career.
Back then, McCoy was 23. Now he is 31. And that is likely part of the reason the Buffalo Bills decided to move on at the 53-man roster deadline Saturday afternoon. Their third-round pick 21-year-old Devin Singletary — and veteran Frank Gore — should be in line to split what would have been McCoy’s touches.
“He couldn’t believe it,” Gore said. “But once he went to Kansas City, I said, ‘Hey that’s a good fit. I told him to go out there and do what he do. Go ball. And I know he will. I’m happy for him that he landed on his feet already.”
The Chiefs are happy, too. Because when they turned on the film, they saw a running back who could still play.
“He still has the great feet and the vision,” Reid said. “The way we’ll work that situation is that we are lucky to have Damien (Williams) here who we consider a starter, as we do Shady. I think it is a great situation to be in, really for both of them and for the football team. They don’t know each other, but they’ll get to know each other here. I know they’ll work well together.”
Reid already referring to McCoy as a “starter” is news that will rock many fantasy leagues to the core. But in reality, what that translates to for the Chiefs is an immediate running back by committee between McCoy, Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson.
“I have done this before where I have done it by committee,” Reid added. “Most of my time in Philadelphia, that’s what I did and they all had success and worked out pretty well for them. We have the ability to play everybody if we go that route.”
This will be a change to what McCoy is used to, but it’s a challenge he sounds ready to take on.
“I would say that for the majority of my career, I’ve been the key guy,” he said. “I come here and I’m kind of down a little in the grouping. You have the quarterback and all of the wide receivers, even in the backfield they have some good players. If you look at it that way, I can come in here and do some things. I won’t be just the red dot that every game the defense is circling. That helps out when you have a lot of help around. They are already set, the group of guys are already there, I am just coming in here to do my part.”
Reid said he was forthcoming about the situation at hand.
“I’ve been very honest with [McCoy] about Damien and how good of a football player he is,” Reid said. “I think it’s a great situation for both of them and for the team. From where he’s at in his career, you’re talking about a potential future Hall of Famer with the numbers and stats he’s put together here. Here he has an opportunity to come to what potentially is a good football team as we go forward here and be a part of that.”
With the Chiefs in 2019, McCoy is coming off the worst statistical season of his career (2018), when he set career lows with 514 rushing yards and 3.2 yards per carry.
McCoy was grateful when a media member suggested that his 2018 woes might have been rooted by problems along the offensive line.
“Just before the season started, we had Eric Wood, a Pro Bowl lineman, go down with a neck injury,” he said. “Then, we had a Pro Bowl lineman in Richie Incognito, he had a contract situation and he left the team. Then we had Cordy Glenn, our left tackle, he got traded before the season started. Those are three Pro Bowlers on the line. We had guys kind of filling in at the last minute. Give them credit, they did good to the best of their abilities, but then we had a young quarterback and a lot of quarterbacks coming in and out of the games with injuries and different things like that.
“We had probably three to four quarterback starters. That was a tough year. Mentally and physically, it was definitely tough. But, I’m past that. I’m here now. I’m looking for a big year and looking to help this team out in any way possible. I’m just excited. I really am excited to be here. Going through all of the choices I had when everything happened on Saturday, I felt like this was the best fit for a lot of different reasons and I am excited to be here.”
Choosing Kansas City
McCoy signing with Kansas City had a direct impact on the AFC West, as the Los Angeles Chargers were also in pursuit, per ESPN. McCoy said he went back and forth on where to go before ultimately choosing the Chiefs.
”That was a tough one,” he said. “I have played with (Chargers head coach) Anthony Lynn, and his running game is really good. They have a good team, also. Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor are guys that I know and are very successful. It was tough but I just felt better with coach Reid. I know him. I know him very well. I like the offense. I think this is probably my best fit. Over there, it would have been good too, but L.A. is far. I have a 7-year-old son, so he wouldn’t have liked that very much.
“And also, the taxes. Everything matters.”
In addition to being able to hold on to more of the $4 million he will make with the Chiefs, McCoy is also thrilled about the prospect of winning a championship in Kansas City.
“The team they had here, where they were going, the type of goals, a realistic approach to getting to the dance,” he said. “You look at a team like this, it’s so explosive on defense and especially on offense. There are playmakers around. Then, the quarterback. I mean this guy is for real. He’s the real deal. Getting in here with him and all of the other weapons, and as a unit, it just made sense. That is kind of how the conversation went and what we talked about. Knowing Andy for years, he is always sitting in his office drawing up plays, looking at old tape, trying to fit the players in there. That was the biggest conversation.”
McCoy also liked the dynamic of the locker room
“There’s also something about just being here, the players are all good friends,” he said. “Sometimes when you have a lot of superstars, this guy has his own routine and it is different on the other side, but they’re all on the same page. That right there is special. Just to be a part of that, I think there is a realistic shot. I really do.”
Week 1 potential
When asked if McCoy would play Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Reid told reporters, “We’ll see.” That will be decided by how soon McCoy can learn Reid’s playbook, which is much different now than when the two last worked together in 2012.
”I’ve been in the playbook all day today, I will tomorrow and then we’ll keep going,” McCoy said. “The thing is, some of the terminology is a little different, but a lot of the concepts are kind of the same. Coach has a lot more wrinkles than before, but there are some similarities. The hard part with different offensive schemes is that the code words are kind of the same, so it confuses you a little bit. I should be fine. I’m a smart dude. I have nothing else to do. It’ll be like homework, here and at home.”
Right now, the only expectation Reid has for McCoy is to learn the offense.
“He is going to have to get in and learn it,” he said. “Then, we’ll just have to see how that goes. They both have an opportunity to play. I’m not going to put him out there in a bad situation without knowing the plays. I would never do that. We have other guys that can play, too, so I’m not saying that. That’s where we are at.”