DeMarco Murray‘s long, strange winter of discontent continued in the Eagles’ 40-17 loss to the Cardinals, when the $40 million running back saw just eight offensive snaps, and carried the ball twice for three yards.
After attempting to ride Murray through early season struggles, it seems as if the Eagles’ coaches have taken a different approach over the last three games. After averaging 18 carries per game from Weeks 5 to 12, he has averaged seven carries in the team’s last three outings.
Pat Shurmur was asked about Murray’s diminishing workload before Tuesday’s practice, and the offensive coordinator reiterated that the team likes to have a platoon of running backs rather than a single workhorse, citing health as as main reason.
He also tried to distance Murray’s 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year status from what the running back has cobbled together this season.
Billy Davis counted five from his perch up in the coaches box.
He didn’t point them out one by one, but the replay shows it all. There was Walter Thurmond at the point of attack; Jaylen Watkins and Malcolm Jenkins simultaneously bouncing off the ball-carrier a few yards upfield; Ed Reynolds along the sideline; and the final line of defense, E.J. Biggers, getting hit with a stiff arm before falling off the rookie and out of bounds.
“It was awful,” said Davis of the mishaps along the way during David Johnson‘s 47-yard touchdown scamper. Read more »
Moments after the season ended, Jeffrey Lurie identified x-plays against as the “Achilles heel” of the team along with turnovers and red zone inefficiency.
The Eagles surrendered a league-high 72 pass plays of 20-plus yards in 2014. Determined to clean that area up, they reshaped three-fourths of the secondary, invested $27 million of guaranteed money in the back end through free agency, and brought in a new secondary coach in Cory Undlin.
Those moves didn’t solve the issue altogether, but there have been improvements. The Eagles are currently tied for 13th in passing x-plays allowed with 44. They’re on pace to yield 54 — 18 less than last season — for an average of 3.38 per game. (Last year, they gave up 4.5 on average.)
On Sunday, the revamped unit will face its toughest test yet when the high-octane Arizona attack comes to town. Read more »
In the latest episode of Press Coverage, Tim and Josh dissect what they learned from the Eagles’ big over Tom Brady and the Pats, and discuss whether those lessons can be applied to the final four games of the regular season.
They also offer up their predictions for the highly anticipated return of LeSean McCoy this Sunday.
Tim and I explained in last week’s Press Coverage how the Eagles would need to generate a good pass rush and force turnovers against Tom Brady to pull off the unlikely upset over the Patriots. How unlikely? We treated it more as a joke than as something that could actually happen.
But Billy Davis’ unit, after allowing 90 points in the previous two weeks, helped do just that as their four sacks and two interceptions played a pivotal role in Philadelphia’s 35-28 win.
“It’s a tough place to go in,” Davis said. “First of all, I thought the players did a great job. They showed a lot of character, being in the hole we were in the last two weeks and them fighting through it and having that challenge of going in there to beat Brady and Coach [Bill] Belichick in Foxborough is a big deal.
“A big part of it was the three- and four-man rush winning there and the cover guys just holding. We knew we were going to get our share of their passing game. That’s what they do and that’s what their strength is. In the last couple weeks, we were not having much success in that area and the guys stepped up and made a lot of plays.” Read more »
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported in October that Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, whom the Eagles will face this Sunday, wanted a chance to prove himself in Chip Kelly’s offense this offseason.
Instead, Kelly gave a training camp spot to Tim Tebow, who is now out of the league while Taylor is thriving with Buffalo as the fourth-highest-rated quarterback in the NFL.
Former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was asked if Taylor would have fit in the Eagles’ offense, and McCoy — while slightly biased as he’s talking about the man handing him the ball each Sunday — was clear in his evaluation.
Jeffrey Lurie meets with Chip Kelly after every game.
That’s where he was headed when cameras caught him leaving his box early against Tampa Bay. It’s what he’s done 44 times now — 24 after a win, 20 in defeat, once in a postseason setting. Presumably, that tradition continued on Thanksgiving afternoon in the bowels of Ford Field following a second sound-the-alarm loss in the span of four days.
Hard to think of many questions that could be asked or answers given following such a set of performances that could drill down to the core. Micro issues like specific moments in the game seem like a luxury of the past at this stage. It’s all big-picture stuff now. Lurie is likely more interested to see how the head coach is carrying himself, and how the men he’s charged with leading are responding to him, now that it’s all gone to hell.
The owner’s assignment from this stage forward is to figure out why the operation collapsed on itself so suddenly, and whether Kelly has the capacity and the clout to halt the free fall and resume what at what point looked like a climb toward relevancy. Read more »