Eagles Wake-Up Call: Opportunities Await Bryce Brown

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownBryce Brown and LeSean McCoy were active for 12 games together last season.

And in those games, Brown averaged 12 snaps (per Pro Football Focus) and 3.7 carries.

But that was with Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg running the show. Chances are, Brown is going to see a lot more playing time under Chip Kelly – if he can hold on to the football, that is.

As a rookie, Brown carried 115 times for 564 yards (4.9 YPC) and four touchdowns. He put together an electrifying two-game stretch against the Panthers and Cowboys, running for 347 yards on 43 carries (8.1 YPC). Overall, six rookie running backs had at least 100 carries, and none had a higher yards-per carry average than Brown (Bernard Pierce was also at 4.9).

The issue, of course, was fumbles. Brown put the ball on the ground four times, or once every 28.8 carries, an unacceptable rate.

“Sky’s the limit for Bryce,” said running backs coach Duce Staley last week. “Confidence is an area where we’re going to have to address. And what I mean by confidence is just being on this level. A kid that didn’t have a lot of playing experience in college. The last time he started was high school.”

Staley emphasized that Brown, a seventh-round pick in 2012, has embraced watching film and is extremely coachable.

As for the fumbles…

“I look at running backs that run with that style, look at the Adrian Petersons, early in their career, how many times he fumbled,” Staley said. “Not comparing the two, but I look at guys that once they’re in a hole, or once they’re around a crowd, you’ve got to have that awareness. Guys are around, guys poking at the ball, it’s their job.

“Bryce understands that. And I was able to show him some things on film that is going to help him. And [we’ll] definitely do drills. We’re going to do that all day, every day.”

The Eagles’ quarterback situation will continue to take shape in the coming months, but the running backs are in place. And if Kelly’s Oregon teams provide any indication, Brown and McCoy are going to be asked to lead the attack on offense.

In 2012, Oregon was one of seven teams to average more than 50 rushing attempts per game. And the Ducks’ 315.2 rushing yards per game ranked third, behind only Army and Air Force.

In other words, Brown is going to get a chance to be a big-time contributor. It’ll be up to him to show the coaches that he’s deserving and can hold on to the football.

WHAT YOU MISSED

There are strong indications that Kelly’s up-tempo practices are coming to the NFL, and Eagles assistants can’t wait for them.

From mock drafts to offseason priorities, here’s a roundup of what they’re saying about the Eagles.

Could Star Lotulelei fit the Eagles’ needs with the No. 4 pick? Here’s a draft profile on Utah’s defensive lineman.

Can Dave Fipp fix the Eagles’ special teams?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Brian Solomon of McNabbOrKolb.com has some interesting numbers on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie:

Rodgers-Cromartie is capable of playing at a high level in spurts, but to do so consistently he needs special attention from coaches. That’s not something we expect Kelly and his team of 50 assistant coaches (give or take) to have time to do, right? If DRC’s performance goes downhill after his favorite coach is fired and the rest of the defense is falling apart, surely we don’t want him around any more.

Ray Didinger of CSNPhilly.com expects Nick Foles to be traded:

That’s why Mike Vick is coming back and Nick Foles probably won’t. The Eagles denied reports that they were shopping Foles but that’s to be expected. If they say, “Yes, we want to trade Foles, he doesn’t fit here anymore,” then his value goes down.

The Eagles’ decision to work out what amounts to a one-year deal with Vick tells you what Kelly wants to do. He wants to run his offense and thinks he has a better chance with Vick. For all the nice things Kelly has said about Foles, he knows Foles can’t run the option. I expect Foles to be on another team when next season starts.

COMING UP

Look for some posts throughout the day, and then it’s time to hop a flight to Indianapolis for the Combine.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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