METAIRIE, La. — Junior Galette sat at his locker this week and his eyes grew wider and wider as he discussed Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy.
“This guy is explosive,” Galette said. “It’s scary what it reminds you of.”
What exactly does it remind Galette of?
“It reminds me of, like, Barry Sanders as much as I hate to say it,” Galette said.
There’s only one problem with Galette’s excitement – his Saints (11-5) face McCoy’s Eagles on Saturday in an NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.
And stopping McCoy might just be the biggest task the Saints’ run defense has faced this season.
McCoy led the NFL in rushing with 1,607 yards. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns.
But he doesn’t just run the ball. He caught 52 passes for 539 yards and another two scores.
He’s one of the most dynamic players in football, married perfectly to Chip Kelly’s high-paced, up-tempo offense that finished the season as the second-best in the league.
“He’s definitely one of the top backs of the year,” defensive end Cameron Jordan said. “You can tell by the way he’s moving, he’s cutting back, he’s doing everything in his power to keep the ball going forward. We’ve got to be on our best defense this game.”
The Saints have some experience stopping some of the NFL’s best rushers, holding Frank Gore to just 48 yards on 13 carries and Marshawn Lynch to just 45 on 16 totes.
But Chris Ivory ran for 139 yards and a score, Steven Ridley gained 96 and two touchdowns and Zac Stacy gained 133.
And McCoy is more elusive than all of them.
“He gets out there one-on-ones and he makes everybody miss,” safety Roman Harper said. “That just plays right into what he wants to do. He’s going to be a tough tackle. You’re not going to get this guy down one-on-one, from my experience or anybody else’s in the league right now.”
Seven times this season McCoy has rushed for more than 100 yards. He has had four games with better than 150 yards. And against Detroit, in piles of snow, he put up 217 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
The Saints won’t rely on just one player trying to corral him.
“For us, we’ve got to be great tacklers,” linebacker Curtis Lofton said. “We can’t just depend on one person to make the tackle. We’ve got to swarm tackle and overpopulate the ball.”