Eagles Offseason Outlook: Running Back

Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)

Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)

Throughout the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position look at where the Eagles stand going into the offseason. In the first installment we covered the quarterbacks, and now it’s on to the running backs.

STATE OF THE ROSTER

The Eagles spent nearly $12 million in 2015 on running backs (second-most in the NFL, per Spotrac), but by just about every measure, they fell short of lofty preseason expectations. Philadelphia ranked 21st in yards per carry (3.9), and according to Football Outsiders, they had the 17th-best rushing attack in the league. Read more »

Cox, Peters, Sproles Named To Pro Bowl

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

Fletcher Cox has been named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career, the NFL announced Tuesday night. The defensive end will be joined by Jason Peters and Darren Sproles for the game on January 31 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

This is Sproles’ second consecutive Pro Bowl as a return specialist and the eighth selection for Peters.

“It feels really great,” Cox said, according to the Eagles website. “I told myself before the season started that I needed to be better than last year. I had to make the whole world know and not just the local people. It all paid off.” Read more »

Shurmur: ‘Last Year Is Last Year’ For DeMarco Murray

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

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.

Read more »

Chip: We Won’t ‘Run It For the Sake Of Running It’

DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

As DeMarco Murray’s snap counts and rushing attempts have dwindled in the last few weeks, he hit a now low by carrying the ball just twice in the Eagles’ loss last night. That number ties the fewest rushes he’s recorded in a game, and is the first time he’s done so since his rookie season in 2011.

“When we can run the football and get those guys carries, then we’re doing a good job, but we also have to be successful doing it,” Chip Kelly said today. “You’re just not going to run it for the sake of running it and average two yards a carry and then say, ‘At least we ran it enough and everybody got touches.’ It’s not about getting touches, it’s about winning and productivity.”

In Philadelphia’s 40-17 loss to Arizona, Murray totaled just three yards and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. Ryan Mathews carried the ball 11 times for 58 yards, while Darren Sproles had six rushes for nine yards. Mathews, who had the Eagles’ longest run of 20 yards, was the only running back who had a rush of more than three yards. Read more »

Three-And-Out: Eagles-Cardinals Predictions

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Malcolm Jenkins. (Jeff Fusco)

PLAYER I’LL BE WATCHING

McManus: Malcolm Jenkins.

Billy Davis took Jenkins out of the slot for two games this season — against Tampa and Detroit. The Eagles surrendered 90 points and a staggering 951 yards over that five-day stretch.

“It didn’t work out so well,” said Davis, “so we put him back down in the nickel.”

The defense has stabilized in the two weeks since, yielding an average of 24 points in wins over New England and Buffalo.

Now onto Arizona, where one of the great ones in Larry Fitzgerald awaits. Read more »

Darren Sproles Empowered Youth Fundraiser

sproles-event-940x540

Darren Sproles, running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, and his wife, Michel, co-founders of Sproles Empowered Youth hosted a fundraiser for their foundation at the new Center City eatery Fine Palate at 231 S. 15th Street. The foundation helps teens learn essential life skills: resume building, managing money, applying for jobs and essentials to become responsible and successful adults.

There are also football camps and fitness classes for girls. The Sproles are hands-on in these activities, guiding and educating the teens along with trained professionals. The event was consisted of a cocktail party, with lite bites prepared by executive chef Vince Joseph. In addition to the ticket sales to the sold out event, there was a silent auction with trips to the Grammy’s, The Espy Awards and even the MTV Music Awards, auctioned off to raise more funds for the charity. A short video was shown depicting the activities the foundation funds, and the Sproles thanked their guests for coming and supporting a noble cause. Supporting their teammate at the event were Brandon Graham, Eagles Running Back Kenjon Barner and Seyi Ajirotutu.

Photos after the jump »

Instant Observations: Eagles-Bills

USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 23-20 win over the Bills from the Linc:

DEFENSE

*Ed Reynolds intercepted Tyrod Taylor with 58 seconds left to ice the win. Taylor overthrew his intended target, Robert Woods, and Reynolds was there to make the pick.

*LeSean McCoy was the lone captain for Buffalo and was greeted by the Philadelphia crowd with more boos than cheers. He did not not interact with his former teammates pregame, and no, he did not shake Chip Kelly‘s hand. He did share an embrace with Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman, though.

After the loss, he ran into the tunnel as the rest of the players gathered at midfield.

*McCoy finished with 74 yards on 20 carries (3.7 avg.) and had 35 yards receiving.  Read more »

Press Coverage, Ep. 13: Lessons From New England

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.

DeMarco Murray: ‘I’m Very Happy Here’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)

DeMarco Murray confirmed today that he spoke with Jeffrey Lurie on the plane ride home from the Eagles’ 35-28 win over the Patriots, but Murray chose not to elaborate on the topic of the conversation.

“That’s between Mr. Lurie and myself,” Murray said, standing at his locker Thursday.

Murray said he and Lurie often sit next to each other and talk on the team plane.

Murray’s comments come after a flurry of reports about the discussion between the running back and the team’s owner, initially reported by ESPN’s Ed Werder, with additional information from Birds 24/7’s Tim McManus.

Read more »

Kelly: Despite Decreased Snaps, Murray “Fits In”

Chip Kelly, Ryan Day, Duce Staley and DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)

Chip Kelly, Ryan Day, Duce Staley and DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)

Because of the production the Eagles had in yesterday’s win over the Patriots on defense and special teams, the offense wasn’t on the field much. But when they were, Darren Sproles played more than twice as many snaps as DeMarco Murray (35 vs. 14).

“It just depends on how people are defending you,” Kelly said. “There was no doubles on Darren the other day. We also hadn’t used him a lot before that, so I don’t think that was part of their game plan going in that we’re going to get him the ball in different manners that way. But it was a conscience decision by our staff that we need to get Darren more involved. When Darren has the ball in his hands, good things happen.”

Murray also played just two more snaps than Kenjon Barner (12), although both Barner and Sproles averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry while Murray picked up just three yards per rush. Barner, however, fumbled the ball with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter, giving the Patriots a chance to tie the game. Read more »

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