Eagles Wake-Up Call: State Of the Running Game
The Eagles’ running back situation behind LeSean McCoy is a bit unsettled as preparations begin for Arizona.
Darren Sproles suffered an MCL sprain against the Giants before the bye. Chip Kelly suggested he could be out a week or two. Some feel that is an optimistic timeline. Either way, there needs to be a contingency plan if Sproles can’t suit up against the Cardinals, as expected.
Chris Polk plans on practicing in some capacity this week with the hope of playing Sunday. The third-year back hurt his hamstring against the Rams and was forced to sit the Giants game out. With Sproles and Polk sidelined, tight end Trey Burton got some carries late against the Giants when McCoy needed a breather.
The question facing the Eagles is this: Do they stand pat and hope Polk’s hamstring holds up, or do they make a move for insurance purposes?
The Eagles have the option of calling up Matthew Tucker from the practice squad. Or they can look outside the building. Kenjon Barner was brought in for a visit earlier in the month. Barner, a former Duck, was acquired by the Eagles from Carolina in the preseason for a conditional seventh-round pick. They eventually released him with an injury settlement.
The Cardinals have the top-rated rush defense in the league, allowing an average of just 72.5 yards on the ground.
While there are some obstacles to maneuver around over the next week or two, things are looking up for the Eagles’ ground attack overall.
Evan Mathis has been cleared to practice and is eligible to return to game action on Monday, November 10 against Carolina. Jason Kelce could be back for next Sunday’s game at Houston. If all goes according to plan, the Eagles will play just two more games before getting the original five back together.
Even without two of their top offensive linemen, the running game got on track against New York. With Lane Johnson rounding into form (he called it his best performance as a pro), McCoy rushed for a season-high 149 yards against the Giants.
The run game could have its full complement of weapons very soon. In the meantime, they’ll continue with the patchwork approach.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“[Jason Kelce] could possibly play against the Texans.” Positive news for Eagles offensive line.
Meanwhile, it sounds like good news on the Mychal Kendricks front as well.
Eagles pass-rusher rankings courtesy of Sheil.
Kapadia looks at the Week 7 games through an Eagles lens.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz discusses the kind of culture that Kelly has brought to the Eagles:
It feels like Kelly is trying to build a program that can thrive with or without great talent. One of the keys is finding selfless players that will do whatever it takes to win. I’m sure James Casey is frustrated with his lack of touches on offense. He didn’t come here to be Antonio Gates, but probably expected to be more than just a role player. Casey still blocks his butt off when he gets on the field. He plays hard on STs. Casey does what is asked of him and he does it well.
Casey is a perfect fit for Kelly’s culture. DeSean Jackson wasn’t.
You got a big glimpse into Jackson’s personality and mindset back in 2011. He wasn’t getting paid like he wanted and that affected his play and behavior in the locker room. Jackson was better under Kelly, but obviously showed enough of himself that Kelly didn’t want to keep him around. Some people saw the move as insanity. You can’t get rid of your best WR. Kelly likely saw just the opposite. You can’t keep that guy around. You’d be sending a terrible message to the other players. If you’re talented enough, you can do what you want.
Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com with some facts and figures:
• The Eagles’ remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of 0.576.
• The Eagles have already played four of their home games, and have taken advantage, going 4-0. Three of their next four games are on the road, but at least the next two back-to-back road games are coming after the bye.
• Including the Eagles, there are only five teams in the NFL with unblemished home records. The Cardinals and Packers are two of the other four. The Eagles will play both of those teams on the road.
Eagles get back to work. Kelly addresses the media at 12:10 prior to practice.