Wake-Up Call: How Will Eagles Split Up Carries?
Today’s question comes via Twitter:
— Fake Chow (@21Ev42) June 6, 2015
For the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume that you mean carries, not touches.
Chip Kelly has said he felt the run game relied too heavily on LeSean McCoy the past two seasons. Last year, Eagles running backs totaled 415 carries, and 312 of those (75.2 percent) were McCoy. Only DeMarco Murray (392) had more carries than McCoy in 2014.
In 2013, McCoy had 314 of the 400 carries by Eagles running backs, or 78.5 percent.
Obviously, when you sign two guys like Murray and Ryan Mathews, you expect to spread the carries around a little more, but I don’t see this as anything close to an equal time share.
Eagles running backs had about 26 carries per game last season. Overall, the team had 474 rushing attempts, which ranked seventh in the NFL. I think there’s a good chance those numbers could increase this season. Running backs coach Duce Staley has already said the offense wants to regain its identity, and that identity is a run-based spread.
But let’s assume for a moment that the number of attempts stays the same. My guess (and I reserve the right to change this in August!) is that Murray would get around 17 carries per game; Mathews would get seven; and Darren Sproles would get two.
Assuming Murray stays healthy the whole season, that would translate to 272 carries. Only four running backs in the NFL had more than that last season.
Each week when the Eagles are preparing for their opponent, the coaches work out a plan for how they want to divvy up the workload. But once the game starts, Staley is the one deciding who comes on and off the field. If Murray is playing well, it’s going to be tough to relegate him to the sideline. But if it seems like last year’s workload took a toll on him, perhaps Mathews gets more of a look.
Remember, the Eagles signed Murray after they already had Mathews in the fold. They clearly think Murray’s the superior back. And while he won’t come close to last year’s workload, I still believe he’s going to be the primary guy – particularly if he’s healthy and effective.
Seven carries per game for Matthews would put him at about 112 for the season.
As for Sproles, he had 49 carries and 40 catches a year ago. Given that the Eagles added Murray and Mathews, I think Sproles will run the ball less and catch it more. There are drills at practice where he actually goes off and joins the wide receivers.
So to answer the question, if we’re talking carries per game for Mathews and Sproles, I’m going under 11. If we’re talking touches, I think it’s over.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“At the end of the day, I have a lot of faith in Kelly.” What the national media are saying about the Eagles.
Good stuff from T-Mac questioning the Evan Mathis release.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“I think Eric Rowe has stood out, JaCorey Shepherd has stood out,” Kelly said last week, when asked which rookies look good. “Denzel Rice and Randall Evans, those guys are fitting in really well . . . I think our depth has increased there, and I think it’s going to be an interesting position to watch going forward.”
In fact, it seems like Jaylen Watkins, drafted in the fourth round last year, when Howie Roseman still had final say, is pretty much an afterthought these days. Earlier in the offseason, Kelly talked of moving Watkins to safety opposite Malcolm Jenkins, but former Seahawks and Giants nickel corner Walter Thurmond made that jump instead.
Bob Brookover of the Inquirer caught up with Jason Peters and talked about the Cowboys:
“I felt like if we had made the playoffs we could have contended for the ring,” Peters said last week after a long and hot Eagles workout. “We let the Cowboys beat us, man, and they almost went and [expletive deleted] won the Super Bowl. That play with Dez Bryant, they win that game and it’s up in the air what they do next.”
Asked for his opinion about the controversial incompletion involving Bryant late in Dallas’ loss to the Packers, Peters said he thought it should have been ruled a catch. He was pleased it was not.
“I say it was a catch, but I was rooting against them, so I was glad they said it was no catch,” said Peters, who was born in Queen City, Texas. “All my family is Cowboys fans. They’re always rooting for them and I’m the only one rooting against them.”
We’ll talk to Kelly at 11 and then have all the latest from minicamp.