Weekend Reading: Murray’s Influence
Here are some Eagles links to check out this weekend.
The MMQB is counting down the 100 most influential people going into the2015 season. DeMarco Murray comes in at No. 58. From Emily Kaplan:
The five-year, $42-million contract DeMarco Murray signed with the Eagles included at least one unfortunate stipulation: an inextricable link to LeSean McCoy’s nasty Philadelphia divorce. Shady’s parting shots at coach Chip Kelly left his successor in an unenviable position. The 27-year-old Murray must justify Kelly’s decision to trade the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher while validating his own expensive payday. Murray’s all-world performance last year was impressive, but he could be considered a flash in the plan. In Dallas he was supported by an outstanding offensive line. And after logging 497 touches between the regular season and playoffs, wear and tear is a major concern for the 27-year-old back at a time when few teams are willing to invest in veteran runners. Murray won’t be quite the workhorse he was for the Cowboys—he’ll share reps with another free-agent signee, Ryan Mathews—but his productivity will help indicate if Kelly’s roster overhaul was genius, and Murray will have at least two chances this season to exact some revenge on the team that let him go.
Doug Farrar of SI.com says he would rather have LeSean McCoy than Murray:
I’ll take McCoy in this equation for a few reasons. Pro Football Focus has a metric called “Breakaway Percentage,” which takes into account the number and frequency of runs of 15 yards or more. In 2014, Murray— again, with a far better offensive line—gained 33.6% of his total yardage on those plays. McCoy gained 32.1%. Murray caused 67 missed tackles as a runner in ’14, far more than McCoy’s 40, but it could be argued quite convincingly that Murray was eluding opponents in far more favorable situations because of his blocking. With a better line in ’13, McCoy caused 57 missed tackles on just 314 carries. When you’re deciding between two similar backs and career workload is not yet an issue, better to go with the back you know will make things happen with a line on the decline. McCoy has proven he can do it; Murray will have to do so in ’15.
Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post is bullish on the Eagles wide receivers:
The Eagles have four receivers capable of starting just about anywhere in the league. Last year’s second round pick Jordan Matthews had an outstanding rookie year and will keep getting better. Veteran Riley Cooper has played well in this offense, and between those two, the Eagles have both size and speed at the position
This year’s first round pick Nelson Agholor is an excellent route runner with deep speed. He also is outstanding after the catch. Second-year man Josh Huff showed flashes as a rookie, and coming from Oregon, he knows the offense. I expect Huff to really come on this year. For added depth, the Eagles signed veteran Miles Austin, who they hope still has a solid year or two left.
Chris Burke of SI.com grades the Eagles offseason, giving them a B. He says Kiko Alonso is their best acquisition:
He’ll have to remind some people of this after a pre-season ACL tear cost him all of the 2014 season, but Kiko Alonso has the talent to be a defensive superstar. He absolutely looked the part as a rookie in 2013, en route to 159 tackles and a near-miss in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. (Alonson grabbed 19 votes; Sheldon Richardson won with 23.)
The Eagles already had a solid group of linebackers. Adding the dynamic Alonso to the mix might turn the set into one of the league’s best.
Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com reflects on the Eagles’ offseason moves:
If Kelly had gotten [Frank] Gore, he wouldn’t have signed Murray. That might mean the Cowboys would have been able to keep Murray and the Eagles would have had to face him twice a season.
If Kelly had signed [Jeremy] Maclin, he might have been able to draft Byron Jones, who went a few picks later to the Cowboys. So he would have removed Jones from the Cowboys’ roster instead of Murray.
And if [Devin] McCourty had come to Philadelphia, Kelly would have gotten the best cornerback and the best safety possible to improve the Eagles’ secondary. Instead, Kelly came out of the draft without a surefire replacement for Nate Allen at safety. After talking up Earl Wolff as a possibility, Kelly wound up having Walter Thurmond move over from his nickelback spot.
Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice writes on a potential OT prospect that could help the Eagles in the supplemental draft:
The Eagles failed to add to their OL despite having what was previously (before Evan Mathis’ release) the oldest projected starting OL in the NFL. They have little in the way of depth both in terms of guys who can step in and play well if someone gets hurt, and young developmental players who can be groomed to eventually become long-term starters.
According to a release from Clemson OT Isaiah Battle (via CBS Sports), he will be entering the NFL’s supplemental draft.
“I have some family matters to address, with a child due this summer, and I feel it is in my best interest to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft,” Battle said in a release. “I want to thank everyone at Clemson, especially Coach [Dabo] Swinney and the assistant coaches, for what they have done for me the last three years. I also want to thank my teammates. They have all had a big impact on my career.”
Dave Mangels of Bleeding Green Nation reflects on a former Eagles great, Norm Willey:
So did Willey have 17 sacks? Probably not. Willey backs his claim with the bonus he received for it. “To me the real highlight was when I got home. We had an incentive clause, $10 for each hit on the quarterback. It was illegal, but coaches did it anyway. They would look at the films and decide who got what. That week I got an envelope with $170 in it.” But hits on the QB and sacks aren’t the same, and we know that even recently teams put a price on simply hitting the QB. If Willey had “only” eight sacks out of the team’s 14, it is reasonable that he hit [Charlie] Conerly, who was so battered he had to leave the game, and his backup Fred Benners, an additional nine times. Willey claims the Giants’ chaplain complained to him after the game that they were abusing Conerly, hitting him late.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure. If footage of that game exists somewhere, it isn’t public. Just finding photographs of Willey is difficult. Even if he didn’t get 17 sacks that day, eight is more than anyone has been credited with in a game, Derrick Thomas holds the single game record with seven. Willey had a great performance no matter what the total was.