Eagles Wake-Up Call: Josh Huff Shows Up


Josh Huff. Courtesy of USA Today

Josh Huff. Courtesy of USA Today

An animated Chip Kelly spent the moments right before kickoff coaching up Josh Huff, the back of his right hand lightly rat-a-tat-tatting against the receiver’s pads for emphasis as he delivered a final message.

“He was just telling me to play my game,” Huff recalled afterwards. “I had prepared all week for that moment, and he just wanted for me to unleash the beast I guess.”

Huff fielded the opening kick at the three-yard line, found a crease along the right side and darted 40 yards to set his team up near midfield. He somersaulted forward as he was tackled, bounced up and continued to run an additional 15 yards or so out of excitement. It had been a while since he had broken loose.

That was a the start of a career day for the second-year wideout out of Oregon. He got free again early in the second quarter when a pair of Saints defenders collided while in coverage, allowing Huff to zip 41 yards down the left sideline for his first receiving touchdown as a pro, which he celebrated with a throwback move.

huff flip 2

“The flip? I just haven’t done that since high school. I thought it would be fun,” he said.

Huff finished with a personal-best four catches for 78 yards and a score.

Prior to the Saints game it had been slow-going for Huff, who posted just four catches for 39 yards through the first quarter of the season. A hamstring injury kept him out against the Jets and was part of the reason why he played just four snaps against Washington, Chip Kelly said. As a result, a lot of the responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of rookie Nelson Agholor to produce on the outside, which has been an issue at times.

The script flipped a bit on Sunday, as Huff took on more snaps when Agholor was lost to a leg injury late in the first half and was able to make some plays.

“Josh…is an extremely dynamic player,” said Kelly. “He’s got an ability to change direction, stop and start. He is really good with the football in his hands — that’s why he’s doing a great job returning for us. We’ve used him as a running back when he was back in college. He can make people miss. But the other thing with Josh is he’s extremely tough. He’s one of the better blockers in this league. He’s a tough, physical person at the point of attack. That’s what makes him such a good special teams player, such a good gunner because sometimes there are good receivers but they’re not good on teams because of the physical nature of teams.

“I think Josh can do it all.”

Both in college and the pros, Kelly has put his trust in Huff. It worked out well at Oregon, with Huff collecting nearly 2,400 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air for the Ducks. The early returns here have not been as fruitful, but Kelly seems to believe he’ll round into form.

“He knows what I can do,” said Huff. “It’s just a matter of having the opportunity to do it. That’s the bulk of it. I just have to have the opportunity to do it and continue to work and continue to show the coaches that I am consistent and that I’m ready to make these plays.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

“We’re going to roll with Caleb.” Chip Kelly speaks on the Birds’ kicker situation and more.

Eli Manning is looking like his Super Bowl-winning self, and more from around the NFC East.

“Go straight ahead and knock them the f–k out.” Day-after notes from the Birds’ big Week 5 win.

The Eagles’ offensive line finally showed up against New Orleans, and it showed, as the offense took off accordingly.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

DeMarco Murray got his touches against the Saints, but his play still leaves plenty to be desired, writes Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

If you want to label this a coincidence – Murray getting the ball so much one week after complaining – go right ahead, but very little Kelly does is by happenstance. It would also be wrong to read this as the coach placating the player. That’s not what Kelly does, either. This looks more like a case of “Oh, you want the ball? OK, I’ll give you the ball. Let’s see what you do with it.”

The answer that emerged from Sunday was that Murray didn’t do very much with it at all. He gained 83 yards on his 20 carries and, studying the lather factor, didn’t do as well in the second half (11 for 39) as he did in the first (9 for 44). So much for lather.

Jimmy Kempski weighs in on the backfield as well.

Personally, I’ve been reluctant to say Ryan Mathews is better in this offense than DeMarco Murray. Anytime Murray got chances to run the football the first four weeks of the season, he had defenders draped all over him almost immediately. So in that sense, I kind of thought that we hadn’t yet seen what he can do. After Sunday, I’m sold that Mathews isn’t just “better in this offense.” He’s just better.

The one run that Murray had that was really bothersome was when he simply stepped out of bounds short of the first down when he had more room to run. Murray is a big back and is supposed to be a hammer. I don’t get that. The officiating crew (which was terrible, by the way) ended up giving Murray an extremely generous spot and the Eagles were given a first down, but that was really a disappointing play by Murray.

Murray had 20 carries Sunday. Mathews had nine. There needs to be a better balance.

COMING UP

A day off for the Eagles, but not for us. We’ll get you your fix.