Sunday, July 26, 2015, 4:54pm
Bills WR Percy Harvin was widely seen as a valuable offseason addition. Though it has been a couple of years since he produced at an elite level, his talent to produce that way again is unquestioned. How he exactly fits in Greg Roman’s offense will be refined by Buffalo’s offensive staff through training camp and the preseason. What is a bit clearer is how he will provide a shot in the arm to a Bills offense looking to take a big step forward.
Big play threat
He has three kick returns for touchdowns in his career that have gone for over 100 yards. There’s no debating Percy Harvin’s game breaking ability as a return man. His longest play as a receiver in his career however, is just barely more than half the distance of those return touchdowns (53 yards).
Percy Harvin’s mere presence on the field is enough to draw attention. Provided Harvin’s receiving game continues to develop, it will give opponents a troubling dilemma. Where do they focus their attention when it comes to play calling?
Do they respect Harvin’s deep speed and roll coverage over the top so their cornerback doesn’t get burned? Do they simultaneously roll a safety to Sammy Watkins’ side of the field and play cover two and leave just seven men in the box for LeSean McCoy and the run game? Or do they roll the dice, try to blitz and only play single safety high and hope that deep safety correctly guesses where to provide help?
As determined as the offensive staff is to get Harvin’s game singularly focused on being a receiver, it doesn’t mean that Greg Roman’s creativity won’t enter the picture in a given week from time to time. It might only be a play here or there in a game. We may only see him line up somewhere new once or twice a month this season, but the threat is there and Harvin’s versatility can lead to unwanted surprises for Buffalo’s opponents.
This story comes from the Bills web site, so you may find it a bit ambitious for Harvin, who we rank 56th among our WRs. He's going in a lot of drafts as a mid-to-late round pick so owners are hoping to hit on him as depth guy who can at least turn into a consideration as a starter. The problem with Harvin will at least partly be the QB situation as well as a run-first offensive attack, but it sounds like the Bills want to try and be creative in terms of finding ways to get him the ball. He did have 51 receptions and 33 rushes in 13 games, missing two contests and getting two bye weeks after being traded from Seattle to the Jets.
Eagles writer Dave Spadaro: If I had to say one player who stood out, it would be running back DeMarco Murray. He is much more fluid as a pass catcher than I thought, and he's in tremendous shape and just looks like he "fits" into this offensive structure perfectly. The backfield is a must-see group with all of that talent.
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles make it very unlikely that he’ll approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make even that a stretch. Chip Kelly did not utilize McCoy much as a receiver last season.
Eagles beat writer was asked to predict how the team will divvy up the carries:
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.
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.
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray is drawing rave reviews during his first spring as an Eagle, including from running backs coach Duce Staley during his media availability with the rest of the Eagles' assistant coaches last week.
"He's a perfect fit for us," Staley said. "He's exactly what we want to do: full steam, downhill and full steam ahead. That's what we're preaching every day; one, two, three, four yards and a cloud of dust. And all the backs that we have are able to do that."
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles indicate that he won’t approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value on draft day.
Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur revealed the plan Wednesday although he declined to put a percentage on the way touches would be divvied up.
“They’re two really fine players,” Shurmur said at a coaches availability. “They’re two guys that have been starters in places that they’ve been and they’re going to come here and kind of share the role. I think that’s terrific that that’s their mindset. It shows us that you’ve got really, really fine players that understand it’s important to be a good teammate. Any time you can add good players to a unit you make yourself better because you need more than one to play the year.”
There are a variety of ways that the two players can 'share the role,' though this isn't the kind of talk that DeMarco Murray owners want to hear at this point in the offseason. We have Murray projected for 285 carries to Mathews' 132, which is approximately a 2-to-1 split.
McCoy is still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. OC Greg Roman didn't use Frank Gore much in the passing game while in San Francisco, but Gore recently said that was more about Colin Kaepernick and what he was seeing than it was about Roman's offense. It remains to be seen how much McCoy will be used as a receiver, but given Roman's history, we're betting that he's an afterthought in the passing game.
While Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn would like to see LeSean McCoy’s workload stay the same, he’d prefer if Fred Jackson’s was scaled back. Jackson played 548 snaps last season, a number Lynn said he’d like to see cut in half.
“I think he wore down a little bit at the end of the season,” Lynn said. “If we could take half of that off his plate, I think you’re going to see a fresher Fred Jackson and a more explosive Fred Jackson.”
We currently have Jackson projected to touch the ball 114 times after he racked up 207 touches in 14 games last season, so Lynn's expectations mostly jibe with our projections. As for McCoy, he's going to have a tough time matching the 340 touches he had in 2014 due to the potency and pace of the Philadelphia offense compared to the Buffalo offense. We do have McCoy projected to see 329 touches since OC Greg Roman and HC Rex Ryan both love to run the ball. Just don't expect McCoy's receptions to increase; Roman barely used the very capable Frank Gore in a pass-catching role while calling plays in San Francisco the last few seasons.
Philly.com's Zach Berman on the Eagles' new running backs:
Don’t expect Murray to near that carry total this season. He will no doubt be the featured running back, but coach Chip Kelly wants carries to be shared. That’s where Ryan Mathews comes in.
Mathews appeared at first to be the consolation prize to missing out on Gore, but the Eagles still signed him. The former first-round pick is a talented rusher who has twice topped 1,000 yards, but injuries have also been an ongoing issue. He had a career-low 330 yards last season while playing on six games. I wouldn't count on him carrying the ball more than 220 times like he did in his 1,000-yard season (unless Murray gets injured), but he can find a sweet spot in the mid-100s.
We currently project Mathews for 132 carries for 561 yards, which jibes with the numbers that Berman had in mind. We project Murray for 285 carries (for 1,279 yards), which is a far cry from the 392 totes he saw last season. Berman went on to say that the team "needs to get" Darren Sproles more involved, but that may be tough since the team replaced LeSean McCoy with two new running backs.
In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Bills QB E.J. Manuel said his commitment to the quarterback position has reached a point of singular fixation, and attributes it to the adversity he faced last season when he was benched after just four starts.
“I think what I went through that’s just what made me grow up. That was true adversity in my playing career,” Manuel said. “As far as the competitive edge I have now, it’s crazy. It’s almost an obsession now as far as mastering this position and mastering this offense and mainly the fundamentals and mechanics of the game. Why not spend all my time doing that? There’s really nothing else to do right now. The main thing is just being all in and investing in yourself.”
Manuel insists his throwing accuracy is much improved after working for four months this offseason with former NFL QB Steve DeBerg. He credits DeBerg with eliminating the wind up in his throwing motion that compromised his accuracy. His throwing motion is much more compact now and he feels his accuracy is much improved.
The team acquired Matt Cassel in the offseason and he's likely to start unless Manuel is able to make big strides. There are a lot of weapons in Buffalo, but under new OC Greg Roman the team is likely to utilize a run-heavy approach (with LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson) and rely on its defense to win games.
Harvin will have a chance to rehab his image if he can behave and produce in Buffalo. He'll play third fiddle to LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins in the Bills' offense, so he'll have WR3/WR4 value provided new OC Greg Roman figures out how to use him. Roman's track record of underutilizing talent (like Vernon Davis) isn't very encouraging.
Murray will get $42 million over five years, including $21 million in guaranteed money, per reports.
Although the Cowboys said they wanted Murray to return, they never came close to meeting his contract demands, citing the diminished value of the running back and the decline in production as they get older.
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles indicate that he won’t approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s best-case scenario if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make that a stretch.
Update: It's five-year, $40 million deal that includes $26.5 million guaranteed.
It's said to be a five-year, $40 million contract that includes $26.5 million guaranteed. This looks like a system downgrade for McCoy, who ran much better later in the season once his offensive line started to get healthy. In Buffalo, new HC Rex Ryan and new OC Greg Roman (formerly of San Francisco) both have a history of running ball control, run-first teams, but the Bills have serious quarterback issues. Free agent C.J. Spiller isn't likely to re-sign and the acquisition of McCoy has to be a downgrade for Fred Jackson. As for McCoy, he's still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. Given the way the Eagles like to run the ball, whoever emerges as the starter in Philadelphia will carry early round value.
Nothing can be finalized until next week, but if the trade does indeed go through, it's a blockbuster. This looks like a system downgrade for McCoy, who ran much better later in the season once his offensive line started to get healthy. In Buffalo, new HC Rex Ryan and new OC Greg Roman (formerly of San Francisco) both have a history of running ball control, run-first teams, but the Bills have serious quarterback issues. Free agent C.J. Spiller isn't likely to re-sign and the acquisition of McCoy has to be a downgrade for Fred Jackson. As for McCoy, he's still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. Given the way the Eagles like to run the ball, whoever emerges as the starter in Philadelphia will carry early round value.
Especially catching the football. He worked hard in that department, getting maximum use out of the Jugs machine, but now it’s a mental game.
“I feel like I have a different set of hands,’’ Williams said of his 18 receptions, good for 130 yards after not catching a pass his senior year at Boston College. “I feel like I have a better grasp on how the catching mechanism is supposed to work.’’
Now comes Step 2.
“It’s not really anything physical, it’s mental,’’ Williams said. “You come into the league and it’s like, ‘I was catching passes from college quarterbacks, but now this is Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, who is throwing balls to Odell Beckham who has something crazy going on with his hands. He can catch them with one hand and I couldn’t even begin to think of how to accomplish that. It’s definitely a mental game, just having confidence that you are capable of it. Once you have that then you can really start working on actually catching the ball.’’
The story added that Williams is an intelligent player and is going to pick the brains of veteran running backs like Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy this offseason, along with his continuing dialogue with Giants’ veteran back Rashad Jennings. Any improvement in the pass-catching game could give Williams the edge to a more significant role next year. Jennings is approaching old age in terms of RBs (will be 30 in March) and was banged up in 2014.
Monday, December 29, 2014, 12:47pm
Traded to the Eagles last offseason by the New Orleans Saints, Darren Sproles was supposed to create a dynamic backfield with Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy. Together, the two were supposed to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
A vision that never came to fruition.
"I feel we could have done more," Sproles said of playing with McCoy, "but I don't know."
"Have us on the field the same time more," Sproles said of what he would like to see next season. "Have me do more routes out of the backfield."
Sproles was on the field for 344 total snaps in his first season with the Eagles. Of those 344 snaps, Sproles shared a backfield with McCoy only 38 times. The two were successful during their limited time together, as the offense averaged 6.5 yards per play this season with both McCoy and Sproles on the field, the story said. Sproles had double-digit touches the team's first two games but then the touches got less and less as the weeks went on. He did miss a game because of a knee injury. Sproles didn't catch a ball in three games this year and in two of those he wasn't even targeted.
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