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.

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  • knighn

    True story: I have a toddler, 21 months old. Last night he was running around the house with two toddler-sized footballs yelling “football”! He held both of the footballs “high and tight”. I sure didn’t teach him how to do that. After all, he’s a little too young to teach him the proper way to hold onto a football. I’m not sure if he picked it up from actually watching football, or if he just did it instinctively. Either way, I was a proud Dad. Then I thought: “my 21-month old already holds the ball better than Bryce Brown.”

    • Andy

      Shady used to carry the ball off his hip when he ran when he was a rookie and a lot of people were worried about fumbles. Brown really hasn’t played that much football at least until last year, so maybe he can clean up his technique and reduce his fumbles.

      • JofreyRice

        I still hate the way Shady carries the ball. Honestly, I’m surprised he doesn’t fumble a lot more.

        • MAC

          Agreed! Same with Jackson and Maclin. Last year we saw those habits hurt them more than they had in the years before that. AR really didn’t do a good job of making sure those guys learned to hold ball properly. It should have been a point of emphasis. Also even after first two games that Brown started and was fumbling he continued to hold the ball away from his body. Hopefully Kelly and his staff make these guys learn to be fundamentally sound period.

      • chris

        shady still holds it away from his body, especially when he cuts but manages to hold on fairly well with contact. Between him, Brown and Vick, coaches could work all year on holding onto the ball and it will probably still be an issue. At least it’s being addressed and talked about early. I’m excited to (hopefully) have a good running team after so many years of airing out the ball on 3rd and 1.

      • xlGmanlx

        Stats show that Shady hardly if ever puts the ball on the ground, Brown, not so much. He either cleans it up or he doesn’t play.

    • Dave H

      HAHA your son just showed that it’s a natural thing to do because he didn’t want to drop it! we need to get that tape to Brown ASAP

  • GGeagle

    im not worried about Bryce the least bit. Plenty of young RB’s had fumbling problems early in their careers, et I cant think of any that didnt eventually fix their fumblitus..Duce should just be assigned as Bryce personal coach. I expect the fumbling problem to be gone soon, and Bryce and Shady running wild this season behind what will be our 2 new road graders that we get in FA…Andy Levitre OG, and LT Loadholt…with those to on the right side, our RBs can tap dance and crip walk thru those gaping holes….for this to happen we have to ship herremans to KC…but seriously, loadholt and Levitre on the right, would be a chip kelly wet dream. they are two of the best run blocking lineman in the nfl

    • CJ

      While this is true, I’d imagine part of the reason we can’t think of any that couldn’t fix their fumbilitis is because they’re out of the league and forgotten in a hurry.

    • D3Keith

      Even if your OL free agents end up being just wishful thinking, we have potential to have a really nice line, we have a run-obsessed coach, one outstanding running back and one with potential to be outstanding. Just that would be enough, but there’s also a QB who can threaten the edge, two good WRs and a good TE who maybe become more effective when the rest of the NFL doesn’t have the book on them.

      The Eagles might not be very good this year, but I’ll be disappointed if they don’t at least have some games where they score in bunches and show flashes of dominance.

  • JofreyRice

    I’d deal Foles for as low as a 5th. The draft’s strength is the depth of talent. There will be talented players to help rebuild this wreck of a roster throughout the mid-rounds. I know some people would say you have to recoup the 3rd you just spent on him last year, but that was a different regime. For as much as it’s been ballyhooed that Kelly can “adapt his system”, it looks like he’s going to run the show pretty much as he did at Oregon; run-heavy ZBS with elements of spread read-option, and uptempo game speed that translates from practice. Foles has no place in this system, so: something > nothing.

    I think Bryce could really thrive in this system. He’s got great vision, in terms of setting up blocks, is a smooth one-cut runner, and has the kind of leg-drive and breakaway speed someone like Alfred Morris wishes he had. So cool to have Duce on the staff!

    • GGeagle

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahaha typical fanboy

      • JofreyRice

        hey, stop that!

        • GGeagle

          That was seriously one of the dumbest things I ever read. Shame on the Philly media for Engraving their misguided oppinions as reality in the minds of fans across the Delaware valley. The media has tried to interpret the future under chip, they tried to read the tea leaves, and this will go down as the worst media coverage in Philly history. Dopes are actually convinced that Foles is being traded. The only reason I frequent this site is because Sheil and Tim are two of the very few who aren’t guilty of this horrible interpretation of the future under chip, that fans actually think its reality. Lol There is a better chance that Vick won’t be here in September than Nick Foles. Silly misanelli fans lol

          • JofreyRice

            I don’t even listen to mussalini, i only listen to rush limbraugh, so you can go take a powder, you knuckelheas! I’m sorry, Ive acted rashly.

          • BrickSquadMonopoly

            Theres a better chance that Foles is here than Vick? Vicks guaranteed 7 mil Foles like not even 1…You need to work on making sense when you communicate then you can worry about expressing your OPINION.

          • GGeagle

            we can trade away Vick While actually KNOWING what we are trading him away. And he has a friendly 1 yr deal to entice teams…Can’t trade what you don’t know…sorry, but Foles will be here

          • theycallmerob

            you wouldn’t happen to be on the TSA no-fly list, would you? you seem way too angry over someone posting an opinion, supported by their logic structure.

          • The Guru

            I guess Ray Didinger is a dope too. What does a hall of famer know….

  • Max Lightfoot

    A few observations from last season – Bryce Brown gets his speed burst from swinging his arms like pendulums. If he can learn to do that with his non-carrying arm (while keeping the ball tight in the other) he might have a chance. Otherwise his style, which I call “pure wildass running” will doom him to fumble every other play. There’s a reason he went in the fifth round, and we saw it last year. Hopefully, Duce can coach that into Brown – but we shall see.

    • D3Keith

      He went in the seventh.

      And that’s an awesome scientific term for his running style. Love it.

  • http://twitter.com/ChurroTom Churro Tom

    “Brown put the ball on the ground four times, or once every 28.8 carries, an unacceptable rate.”

    For comparison from Jimmy Bama, “Vick fumbled a staggering 14 times… on 138 carries. That means that he fumbled every 9.9 times he ran the ball, which is absolutely awful.”

    http://bloggingthebeast.com/2013/02/12/opposing-defenses-are-happy-to-see-michael-vick-take-off-and-run/

    • CJ

      Far be it from me to come across as a Vick apologist, but Vick’s 14 fumbles the last 2 seasons weren’t all on carries, he’s a quarterback after all, and some do occur in the pocket when sacked. Over those 2 seasons cited, Vick was sacked 51 times. 51 sacks + 138 carries = 189 plays he could’ve potentially fumbled vs 14 fumbles is a 13.5% clip. Still worse then Brown, but when making a point (or quoting someone else’s), please use stats that make sense.

      • http://twitter.com/ChurroTom Churro Tom

        They make sense to most, obviously not to you though I see.

        • Guest

          Come on, really? They make sense in context, like in the source article where the author even states its a lazy way to look at the stats since doesn’t consider butchered exchanges (or sacks), but you butchered the thing and run around quoting it as fact when even the source says it’s skewed.

  • xlGmanlx

    RE – DRC – I don’t get the point, Kelly’s 50 coaches are here to EXACTLY give whomever is here special attention, that is all we have heard about.

    • D3Keith

      It might be a joke about how Kelly’s practices are supposed to be fast and efficient and individual coaching is supposed to take place in the film room … but to me honest, I didn’t really get that excerpt either.

  • over the top

    Brown fumbled FOUR times…. take a good look at all 4 of them….three were reallly good knocks on the ball where a lot of backs would have lost it…. have no worries… both Brown and McCoy will have a great season with acceptable number of fumbles.

  • BleedingGreen
    • theycallmerob

      I wonder if Nike would be on board. And also, what they might contrive as a design…

    • limodriver27

      Umm, sorry, *no* to the kelly greens. Just because we had some measure of success in kelly or that it was our original color doesn’t cut it for me personally. Not to mention that another team uses the same color scheme.
      @overthetop – I also recall his fumbles which are mentioned. Brown took some serious blows to have the ball punched out. The effort of Duce to be his almost-personal coach in how to hold the ball should provide benefits down the road.

  • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

    Although Foles doesn’t have a chance to lead an Option Offense, it’s asinine to consider parting ways with Foles this year. I can’t understand Football knowledge in Philly. Brown has relatively come in off the street he’s not been subject to the pounding in the NFL or College, give in a little time to adjust. He’s preforming on instincts at this point allow him time to mature and study the game. Brown has virtually fell into the best possible position he could have in life. He and Shady, combined in an option offense may run for near 3000 yards touching the ball 30 to 35 times a game.