Weekend Reading: A Role For Sproles

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Here are some Eagles-related links worth checking out this weekend.

Jeff McLane of the Inquirer wonders if Chip Kelly can find a bigger role for Darren Sproles in his offense:

Sproles was second on the team in carries (57) to McCoy (312) during the season, but after [LeSean] McCoy was traded to the Bills and [DeMarco] Murray and [Ryan] Mathews were brought in, Kelly spoke of more evenly distributing the workload.

Performance would seem to be the ultimate decider in how Kelly doles out playing time. But Sproles averaged 2.1 yards per snap to McCoy’s 1.9, 5.8 yards per rush to McCoy’s 4.2, and 9.7 yards per catch to McCoy’s 5.5 last season.

The suggestion isn’t that Sproles should have been the primary running back. He never filled that role during his best seasons with the Chargers and Saints. But those teams did manage to give him more chances. Sproles was on the field 42 percent of the time during his five seasons before joining the Eagles. Last year that number dropped to 31 percent.

Doug Farrar of SI.com included Brandon Boykin on his list of top slot corners:

Many Eagles fans wondered why, with their outside cornerback duo of Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher getting toasted on an alarmingly regular basis, Chip Kelly didn’t direct defensive coordinator Billy Davis to put Brandon Boykin out there as a “starter” more often. After all, when he was an outside corner in 2014, Boykin was more effective than either Williams or Fletcher—not that he had to clear a very high bar. But to ask the question is, perhaps, to misunderstand the definition of a starting cornerback in today’s NFL. Boykin was a starter: He played 150 snaps outside and 374 snaps in the slot, allowing no touchdowns on all his targets. Williams and Fletcher allowed a combined 14 touchdowns. It could easily be argued that Boykin was the team’s most valuable defensive back, which the Eagles seem to have confirmed by the fact that he’s the only one of the three still on the team’s roster.

“It really is how we practice [that determines where you play], and he practices as our nickel corner,” Kelly said last September of Boykin. “It’s a very vital position for us. Billy said that that’s a starting position for us, I say that’s a starting position for us, that’s kind of where it is.”

Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice looks at the possibility of an offensive line without Evan Mathis:

That’s a downgrade at three spots. Mathis to [Allen] Barbre is a downgrade, Barbre to [Matt] Tobin would in theory be a downgrade if Barbre is thought of by the team as a better player, and Barbre/Tobin to Andrew Gardner as the first guy of the bench is a downgrade.

Where #CommitmentToCulture goes wrong.

It’s only May, but this is something to watch going forward.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com ranked the Eagles as the ninth-best roster in the NFL, without considering the quarterback position:

Chip Kelly has ruffled some feathers with his bold personnel moves, but skeptics can’t question the depth of talent on the Eagles’ roster. The offense will place the NFL’s reigning rushing king (Murray) behind one of the most talented O-lines in football. The melding of a one-cut runner and a group of blue-chip blockers ([Jason] Peters, Mathis, [Jason] Kelce and [Lane] Johnson — who’s still a bit raw, but I’m willing to bet on his athleticism and potential) should produce fireworks in the Eagles’ zone-read system. On defense, [Fletcher] Cox and [Connor] Barwin are disruptive playmakers capable of wreaking havoc at the point of attack. Their ability to create pressure could allow [Byron] Maxwell to flourish as a CB1 in a new defense. And if [Kiko] Alonso can get back to his rookie form after a season lost to injury, Philly fans will quickly learn to love the athletic linebacker. [Cody] Parkey led the NFC in scoring as a rookie.

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly reports on Mark Sanchez’s improved shoulder strength:

“I could see the early OSP (offseason strength program) period where all that stuff was filmed, without even a defense and I’m throwing the flat and I’m looking at the plays,” he said, “and now I know the play so I’m expecting that ball to be there now and I’m watching this ball float across the screen and I’m like, ‘Man, I’ve come along way since that.’

“That’s encouraging. Hopefully it can only get better.”

Now it’s understandable why Sanchez, a former top-five pick, looked noodle-armed last season. Now he knows why his fastball lacked zip. Now he can sense the toll that missing all of 2013 after undergoing shoulder surgery took on his right arm last year.