Eagles coach Chip Kelly has finally begun to realize that DeMarco Murray, his prized free-agent signing, is not a good fit in his offense. But Kelly is still giving Murray more touches than his production warrants.
In Sunday’s win over the Bills, Murray actually got plenty of touches: Murray had 11 carries for 34 yards, plus two catches for three yards.
That continues a trend that has been going on all season: Murray is getting the ball a lot and not doing much of anything with it. Murray has 174 carries for 603 yards this season, an average of 3.5 yards a carry. Murray’s average is by far the worst on the team: Ryan Mathews averages 5.3 yards per carry with 465 yards on 87 carries, Kenjon Barner averages 4.6 yards a carry with 106 yards on 23 carries and Darren Sproles averages 4.0 yards a carry with 275 yards on 69 carries.
There were reports that Murray was going to be inactive or reduced to the team's RB4 in Week 14, but that wasn't the case. Instead, it was worse for fantasy owners as Mathews, Murray and Sproles seemed to split up the workload. This is going to be a tricky situation going forward. Mathews is probably the best fit for a full workload and has often produced with more with less touches than he got this week. But without a full workload, he'll still have some risks going forward.
His previous low came in Week 4, when he had just 25 snaps against the Washington Redskins, but the game flow dictated that one. With the Eagles falling behind, they turned to their passing down backs. In Week 13, Murray's low snap count was part of the plan.
Head coach Chip Kelly explained that based on the matchup, it made more sense to use his smaller running backs -- Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner. However, he also added that Sproles' ability to create positive plays consistently helped him stay on the field throughout the game.
This will be interesting to watch the rest of the season. The Eagles made some changes coming into this game after three-straight losses, and it was clear the speed of Sproles and Barner worked better on the sweep plays the team loves to run. The Birds also scored three special team and defensive TDs which limited the offensive snaps, but it's been pretty clear this season Murray isn't a great fit in this offense. Also keep in mind Ryan Mathews missed this game with a concussion and has had more success than Murray this season. The return of Mathews could also keep Murray's snap total low going forward.
Friday, December 4, 2015, 6:28pm
Thursday, December 3, 2015, 5:56pm
Wednesday, December 2, 2015, 6:12pm
Friday, November 20, 2015, 6:29pm
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 5:53pm
Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 6:07pm
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 6:20pm
Eagles RB Ryan Mathews (groin) missed practice Thursday after taking limited reps Wednesday. This is a downgrade from Wednesday, so not a good sign. If he’s out, it’s a bump for DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles.
Now it's time to figure out if he will remain in the lead role, or go back to being a part of DeMarco Murray's supporting cast.
"I have no idea," Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said Monday. "That's not a concern for any of us."
Mathews rushed for 108 yards on 25 carries in the team's win Sunday over the New York Jets, taking over Murray's job while the starting running back was on the sideline due to a hamstring injury.
"We ran the ball a little bit more," Kelly said. "That was what we were trying to do against (the Jets)."
The story went on to say Mathews looks far more decisive with his reads and cuts than Murray has this season. The backup-turned-starter also looked quicker getting to the edge. Which is why based on the stat sheet, and to anyone watching the game, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that Mathews might be a better fit for the Eagles' offense than Murray, the running back they paid $40 million to this offseason. Kelly denied that Murray isn't a good fit but his hamstring issue will be a question heading into Week 4.
Friday, September 25, 2015, 7:02pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring, questionable) returned to take full practice reps Friday after missing practice Thursday and is questionable for Week 3. Ashley Fox of ESPN reported that Murray is expected to play in Week 3. Murray injured the hamstring in Wednesday's practice. Remember, this was one of the concerns with Murray coming into the season. Running backs don't usually hold up the season following a massive workload, but there was some optimism since he's playing for Chip Kelly, who is known to have a great training staff. If Murray can't play in Week 3, Ryan Mathews is a good bet for 12-15 touches as the Eagles' RB1, but the role of Darren Sproles would expand as well. The Eagles play early on Sunday.
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 6:16pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring) missed practice Thursday after taking limited reps Wednesday. Murray injured the hamstring in Wednesday's practice. Remember, this was one of the concerns with Murray coming into the season. Running backs don't usually hold up the season following a massive workload, but there was some optimism since he's playing for Chip Kelly, who is known to have a great training staff. If Murray can't play in Week 3, Ryan Mathews is a good bet for 12-15 touches as the Eagles' RB1, but the role of Darren Sproles would expand as well.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 6:12pm
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Murray injured the hamstring in Wednesday's practice. Remember, this was one of the concerns with Murray coming into the season. Running backs don't usually hold up the season following a massive workload, but there was some optimism since he's playing for Chip Kelly, who is known to have a great training staff. If Murray can't play in Week 3, Ryan Mathews is a good bet for 12-15 touches as the Eagles' RB1, but the role of Darren Sproles would expand as well.
The man responsible for handling the rotation is Duce Staley. In a clear sign of trust, Chip Kelly defers to his running backs coach to decide who is in and for how long during the course of a game. Staley explained his approach to that responsibility.
"I just go in with an open head and make sure I don't get caught up in the last game," he explained. "I try to get a good feeling of what's going on out there and then I go from there. I think there's too much put into it when you start sitting down and writing out a plan. You get in trouble that way."
So it's all by feel?
"I don’t think it’s very difficult," said Kelly. "I think Duce always does a really good job, depending on who is available to him, in terms of rotating those guys in. The biggest thing for us is we just want to keep someone fresh in the game. So if it takes getting you out for a couple of plays, just to get you wind and get you back, it takes a toll on the defense. So you can take Ryan Mathews out and DeMarco Murray comes in; or if DeMarco Murray comes out and Darren Sproles comes in. That’s kind of what we have been trying to build towards here and those three guys obviously give us the opportunity to do that."
One beat writer predicted a 50-30-15 split among Murray, Mathews and Sproles, with the rest of the carries divvied up among the quarterbacks and receivers. The Eagles averaged 487 carries over the last two years, so if Murray sees 50 percent of the carries, he's looking at around 244 carries. We project him to carry the ball 259 times this year, so we feel the backfield will tilt slightly more in his direction. Still, workload is a concern with Murray after he was the bell cow of all bell cows in 2014.
This was supposed to be the summer Ertz wrestled the starting job away from the 30-year-old Celek. He worked hard in the offseason to improve his blocking, talking to offensive line coaches and future Hall of Fame tight ends and training with MMA fighters.
But then he suffered a core-muscle injury early in training camp and has missed the entire preseason. Ertz hopes to be back for the Atlanta game. But even if he is, his snaps likely will be limited to passing downs and two-tight-end sets.
And if the preseason and their 11-on-11 team work in training camp is any indication, the Eagles will be cutting down on their use of two-tight-end sets this season as they make greater use of running back Darren Sproles in the passing game.
Last year, they used two-tight-end formations on 344 of their 1,128 offensive snaps, or 30.1 percent of the time. Celek played 815 snaps; Ertz played 587.
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Most (73%) of his snaps came on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. The groin injury isn't helping, so owners who draft Ertz should be prepared for an unproductive September.
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