Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 1:46pm
According to Redskins beat writers from CSN Washington, HC Jay Gruden seems to be losing his patience with the stagnant running game.
“Where do you want me to start?” he said Monday, asked what’s wrong with the ground attack.
But after saying Alfred Morris has missed some cutback opportunities in addition to numerous other systemic breakdowns, Gruden also gave Morris a vote of confidence, saying, “We still like Alfred. We still feel like he’s going to carry us to where we need to go.”
So it doesn’t sound to me like making a change is even in the discussion.
The normally consistent Morris has been anything but this year. It's a similar situation where LeSean McCoy is struggling but Darren Sproles has fewer carries but a higher yards per carry average. The same can be said for Roy Helu and Morris in Washington. Helu's carries are far and few between, but he's performing better behind a bad offensive line. The schedule does ease for the short term so we'll see if the team can get some momentum in the running game. The possible return of Robert Griffin III at QB could also help.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 12:46pm
There’s been chatter around Baltimore as to who the Ravens’ top running back is in their strong rushing game. On Sunday in Tampa Bay, Forsett took another step in proving he’s the guy.
Forsett and the now healthy Pierce split the carries – Forsett got 14 and Pierce had 15. But Forsett took his for 111 yards (7.9 yard average), and Pierce totaled 32 yards (2.1 average) and a touchdown on his attempts.
Forsett got his fourth straight start, and kick-started the Ravens offense with a 52-yard jaunt on their second play of the game.
Forsett, who still leads the NFL in average yards per carry (6.4), hadn’t logged a 100-yard game since 2009, his second year in the league when he was with the Seattle Seahawks. Forsett is fifth in the NFL with 408 rushing yards, trailing only Dallas' DeMarco Murray, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell, Houston's Arian Foster and Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy. It didn't appear Forsett would step up to the lead role and keep it with the younger Pierce and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro as part of the running attack. For now, Forsett is taking advantage of his opportunities despite splitting carries with Pierce.
Still a team source told NJ.com that Sproles' injury "does not look good.'' Asked how bad it was, the source responded, "it's not good.''
Sproles catches a break with the Eagles on the bye next week. His status for Arizona, Oct. 26 and beyond won't be determined until the team comes back from the bye to practice, Oct. 21.
Other reports said Sproles was joking with teammates in the locker room. Sproles did walk off the field and to the locker room under his own power but it looks like owners will have to wait and see how long he could be out. He was scheduled for an MRI Monday. The Eagles have a bye in Week 7 before coming back to play the Cardinals in Week 8. The Birds will likely bring in another RB with Chris Polk (hamstring) inactive for Week 6. LeSean McCoy will see plenty of touches if Sproles is out any length of time.
Saturday, October 11, 2014, 8:10am
Eagles RB LeSean McCoy was ready.
It was late, the game was on the line, and he wanted the ball. But his number wasn't called, and he seethed.
"Yeah, I was hot. I mean, who wouldn't want the ball?" McCoy said. "I wasn't [angry], but I thought I was getting it."
While the running back's reaction may seem like a reversal from statements he made this past week, the pivotal moment in question wasn't the Eagles' late-game decision to go with Darren Sproles over McCoy against the Rams last Sunday.
It happened a week earlier against the 49ers. The Eagles, trailing by five points, drove down the field. A McCoy 5-yard carry on second down put them 11/2 yards from the goal line. During the two-minute warning, McCoy said he was told he would get the ball.
That's been back-to-back games the Eagles haven't gone with their stud RB in key situations. Last week a lot was made over the Eagles taking out McCoy for Sproles later in the game to kill the clock. Sproles busted off a long run for a first down and never came out of the game after that. The issue with McCoy has been dancing around and looking for room that often isn't there behind a banged up line. He seems to refuse to take what little is there and will try to make more. While Sproles, on the other hand, is taking what's there. McCoy is going to get his carries and still finished with 24 and four catches, but the team isn't afraid to use Sproles at just about any time in the game.
Eagles beat writer Phil Sheridan says that instability of the team's offensive line is to blame for LeSean McCoy's struggles: The unit that started the same five guys in all 17 games in 2013 will start the same five guys twice in a row for the first time this season Sunday night. And that five will not include starting center Jason Kelce and left guard Evan Mathis, who will be out for another month or so. With the line in flux, LeSean McCoy has looked totally ordinary and Foles has not resembled his 2013 self.
The good news is that the unit should get healthier as the season wears on, which makes McCoy an attractive "buy low" candidate if the price is right. He does have two matchups with a leaky Cowboys defense in Week 13 and Week 15. On the flip side, he also faces the Seahawks in Week 14.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 9:12pm
"They called me out. Duce pulled me out," McCoy said. "For the most part, if I'm tired, I come out. Then Sproles has his different packages, he has his plays to come in, but the majority of the time, it's just how I'm feeling.
"That was kind of the first time - well, every once in a while, Duce might pull me out and let Sproles get in. One thing about Duce, I trust his judgment. If he feels like I'm tired . . . He pulled me out for a reason. I didn't argue it, because I trust him. He's been with me here since Day 1. It worked out."
McCoy originally said he took himself out of the game but then changed his story. As McCoy noted, Sproles popped a 25-yarder his first play after replacing McCoy, the Eagles' longest offensive gain of the day, helping boost his total to 51 yards on just seven carries, 7.3 yards per carry. McCoy gained 81 yards on 24 carries, 3.4 yards per carry, which wasn't great but certainly was better than the 39 yards on 29 carries he'd managed over the 2 previous weeks.
Last season's starting right tackle for the Eagles, Lane Johnson, finally returns this weekend after serving a four game suspension. That is big news for RB LeSean McCoy, as Johnson was one of the best running blocking lineman on the team last season when the running back lead the league in rushing. It also allows the Eagles to be more balanced in their approach, as they can run behind both Johnson and left tackle Jason Peters now, instead of running just to the left, which they have done more of this season.
Johnson being back not only helps the Eagles at tackle, but also at guard, as it allows veteran Todd Herremans to move back to his natural position at right guard. Herremans had been playing some tackle with Johnson suspended and other players injured, but now he gets the chance to move back inside. That gives McCoy his entire right side of the line back.
"I am so used to those guys," McCoy said, "and I know how well they block."
Johnson was a good run blocker in 2013, though he struggled in pass protection. Still, his return is a good boost for an offensive line that has been decimated by injury. The Rams are #10 in RB aFPA, though they have yielded 5.1 YPC and four rushing touchdowns in three games. We're not expecting a monster game from McCoy, but he should fare better than he did in the last two weeks.
Playing behind a patch-work offensive line, Eagles QB Nick Foles has taken plenty of hits these past two weeks, and it is now a common occurrence for him to be seen stretching out his left shoulder between plays and on the sideline.
When asked on Tuesday if the shoulder was bothering him, or affecting his accuracy, Foles wouldn't go into detail on how much his shoulder was actually bothering him.
"You get hit a couple times, there is definitely some soreness," Foles said. "You are going to get hit, you are going to have soreness, but I feel good.
"It's a shield. It takes a beating. You gotta be able to put it up when someone is coming in, and you are delivering a ball. I can't throw a football very well with my left arm, but you have to have it to defend defenders and deliver the ball."
It hasn't helped Foles that RB LeSean McCoy has been non-existent the past two weeks. He's had to throw more and is taking a beating as a result. The good news is Lane Johnson, the team's RT, returned this week from suspension and will start, but could be rusty. Foles was clear that the soreness he is experiencing is "not at all" responsible for his decline in play, a decline that has been a steep one from last season.
"I think it's different how they're playing us this year," Kelly told reporters. "We've seen different looks in terms of the three games we've played this year compared to last year. I think LeSean's doing everything possible. Again, if that's how you're going to do it, and we're going to end up with 30-whatever points a game and continue to be productive on the offensive side of the ball, it's ultimately that. But also you're down four linemen that you had that were running in front of him last year, too. So I think sometimes when we're running the play, there is a lot better push at the point of attack, and that doesn't have anything to do with the running back from that standpoint. It's kind of what it is right now."
The offensive line will be without Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce for the next month and a half, but Lane Johnson will soon return from suspension. He faces the 49ers this week and the Cardinals in Week 8, but otherwise his upcoming schedule looks pretty soft. He also faces the Cowboys twice (Week 13 and Week 15) down the stretch.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 1:57pm
Current offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was the quarterback coach for the Eagles back when Andy Reid was head coach.
That was a time when, as former running back Dorsey Levens once put it, the Eagles ran the ball "just give the wide receivers a rest.''
After stops in St. Louis, as offensive coordinator, and Cleveland, as head coach, Shurmur is back with the Eagles as Chip Kelly's offensive coordinator where the running game has become a staple of the offense.
Even when it's not working.
"We believe in the running game,'' Shurmur said before Tuesday's practice. "We're going to run the football.''
LeSean McCoy has struggled this year, but especially last week where he averaged 1.1 yard a carry against the Redskins. Even the Eagles passing attack isn't opening up holes. The line is really banged up, too, with Lane Johnson suspended and Evan Mathis and now Jason Kelce expected to miss several weeks.
Pretty much everyone who watched Eagles TE Zach Ertz this summer was predicting a breakout year. And through two games, those outlooks seem on-point. He has seven catches on 10 targets for 163 yards. All seven grabs have netted first downs. Six of the seven have been for 20 yards or more. No one in the NFL has more 20+ grabs than Ertz so far.
His 23.3 yards per reception is also a league-high.
The article does a good job of using pictures from All-22 film to break down how Ertz is making plays downfield. He is in the top 9 in both standard and PPR formats and has played 67 percent of his team's snaps. He is tied with LeSean McCoy for the 3rd-most targets (11) on the team, ahead of both Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews. At this point, he looks like an every-week starter.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 12:28pm
Through two games, the Eagles are ranked No. 1 in the league in both points (64) and yards (878). That is impressive, especially considering that not everything on the offense is clicking just yet.
QB Nick Foles hasn’t been quite himself through two games. (Or, at least, the 2013 version of himself.) The choppiness that we saw during the preseason has carried over. Like last week against the Jaguars, a bulk of the misfires came in the first half. His third down pass intended for Jeremy Maclin near the goal line on the opening possession was off the mark, as were a pair of swing passes and a longer toss to Maclin in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter. He ended the half 13-of-21 for 187 yards with an interception.
"I missed some throws. I missed some throws that could have really helped us out and if I hit those throws, it will shorten the chains," said Foles. "I need to be a little more accurate, give my guys the opportunity to catch the ball and run with it."
His receivers weren't helping. There were six drops, including one by Riley Cooper on a perfectly-placed ball by Foles in the left corner of the end zone in the first quarter. Cooper had one catch for eight yards. He has five catches for 37 yards on 11 targets through two games. Rookie Jordan Matthews had a couple drops. And on the interception, Maclin could have arguably made a better effort fighting for a ball that Greg Toler came away with.
Foles missed Ertz on a throw in the red zone that was behind him and also never saw a wide open Cooper streaking across the field on a key third down play, both in the second half as the Eagles were trying to come back. The Eagles play calling in the red zone was rather odd as Chip Kelly opted for plays many would define as "cute." Foles could be a little on edge behind an offensive line that's banged up right now. The good news is RBs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles have been helping pad his fantasy stats. The team has another favorable matchup on Sunday against Washington.
Monday, September 15, 2014, 7:33pm
Saturday, September 13, 2014, 4:31pm
LB Jerrell Freeman (hamstring), G Joe Reitz (ankle)
DT Josh Chapman (ankle), C Khaled Holmes (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (shoulder)
For the Colts, Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Wayne appear as probable ( both not injury related) and practiced fully on Friday and Saturday. Bradshaw is expected to split carries with Trent Richardson and Wayne has a great matchup against the Eagles secondary.
Monday, September 8, 2014, 6:24pm
Eagles RB LeSean McCoy led the NFL with 314 carries last season, which began with him carrying the ball 31 times in the opener at Washington. Against Jacksonville this year, McCoy ran the ball 21 times for 74 yards. He also had six catches for 41 yards.
Overall, McCoy played 58 of the Eagles’ 87 offensive plays, or 67 percent. Darren Sproles was on the field for 33 offensive plays plus eight special teams plays. Sproles carried the ball 11 times for 71 yards and caught four passes for 14 yards.
Last year with the Saints, Sproles never carried the ball more than eight times in a game. When the Eagles acquired Sproles in a trade in March, coach Chip Kelly stressed that he viewed Sproles as a running back rather than a pass catcher.
“I think he’s an outstanding running back,” Kelly said. “He proved it [Sunday] and it’s nothing he hadn’t proved from the first two or three days we saw him out here in the offseason program. He’s really, really talented. You’ve got to find ways to get the football in his hands.”
The story points out that Kelly used Sproles and McCoy on the field together sparingly, but that was because of the Jaguars’ defensive response. If the Jaguars played more man-to-man defense, the Eagles might have used the two backs together more often. Sproles was more effective as a runner especially during their second half comeback. A big part of Sproles' yards came on the TD run, but keep in it was a fourth down play where the Eagles rushed to the line with little response from the Jags tired defense. Still, Sproles looks like he's going to get some rushes among his catches and punt returns, which could give him some value in typical PPR leagues rather than just deep ones.
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