Chip: We Won’t ‘Run It For the Sake Of Running It’

DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. (Jeff Fusco)

As DeMarco Murray’s snap counts and rushing attempts have dwindled in the last few weeks, he hit a now low by carrying the ball just twice in the Eagles’ loss last night. That number ties the fewest rushes he’s recorded in a game, and is the first time he’s done so since his rookie season in 2011.

“When we can run the football and get those guys carries, then we’re doing a good job, but we also have to be successful doing it,” Chip Kelly said today. “You’re just not going to run it for the sake of running it and average two yards a carry and then say, ‘At least we ran it enough and everybody got touches.’ It’s not about getting touches, it’s about winning and productivity.”

In Philadelphia’s 40-17 loss to Arizona, Murray totaled just three yards and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. Ryan Mathews carried the ball 11 times for 58 yards, while Darren Sproles had six rushes for nine yards. Mathews, who had the Eagles’ longest run of 20 yards, was the only running back who had a rush of more than three yards.

“This is just how the season expressed itself,” Kelly said. “We would’ve hoped we had carries to go around with everybody. We would’ve loved to have 35 carries that we can distribute between our backs. Again, we’re not running the ball consistently enough in anybody — whether it be Ryan, whether it be DeMarco, whether it be Darren — for us to be successful on offense and that’s why we’ve been like this.

“I’m disappointed in everything we’re doing on the offensive side of the ball from a consistency standpoint. I’m not singling out any single player, I just don’t think we’ve been as consistent enough as we need to be on the offensive side of the ball to be successful.”

Sproles lead the Eagles’ running backs in playing time yesterday, recording 30 snaps (47 percent). Mathews, meanwhile, tallied 26 snaps (41 percent) while Murray played only eight snaps (12 percent). Kenjon Barner, who was also active, didn’t play on offense at all. Kelly attributed Sproles’ snap count to the Eagles throwing the ball a lot, in addition to the Cardinals’ defensive front seven.

He also explained that Mathews was on the field for Philadelphia’s failed fourth down attempt in the second quarter because of the running back’s size. According to the Eagles’ official roster, Mathews is 6-0, 220 pounds while Murray is 6-0, 217 pounds.

“Ryan is our biggest back,” Kelly said. “He’s 230 pounds so that package that we were going to run on that play, he’s our back on that play. We kind of got the look we thought we were going to get. We thought it was going to be crammed inside; we had to get the ball to the perimeter.”

Here are a few other highlights’ from the press conference:

 Missed tackles was a significant problem for the Eagles yesterday, which Kelly partially attributed to players trying to force a fumble instead of making the tackle.

“I think at times, when you look at the film from yesterday, we were probably trying to knock the ball out a little bit. Obviously what we’re teaching and what we got to get accomplished and we’re not doing a good enough job teaching it, we got to secure the tackle first before we ever go for the strip. That’s kind of how we practice it, but we got to do a better job. We talked about it this morning as a staff, if that’s what they’re doing, we’re not doing a good enough job coaching that and we’ve got to coach it better.”

 Kiko Alonso, who was the PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year two seasons ago, continued his unimpressive play yesterday. Kelly was asked why Alonso hasn’t been as good as he was in his first NFL season.

“He missed an extended period of time, so that was the biggest thing with him that I look at right now. We felt like he was getting better; I thought the game he played against Buffalo was really good. He did a really nice job in terms of what we were asking him to do. That’s the one thing with him: I know he can do it, he knows he can do it. We just need to do it on a more consistent basis.”

 Nelson Agholor lead the Eagles’ receivers with 57 snaps (89 percent), but he didn’t catch a pass. Kelly attributed that to Sam Bradford targeting other receivers, in addition to Arizona’s coverage.

“It’s a combination of both, but Patrick Peterson did a really good job on Nelson.”