Question: It seems to me that there is a growing perception that Joseph Randle is the lead for most carries among the committee of running backs. This seems to be a reasonable assumption based on his one-cut skill set aligning better to the Cowboys running scheme as opposed to the other backs. Would you agree with that assessment?
Cowboys beat writer Rainer Sabin: Yes. I agree with that. Plus, he has played more regularly in this particular system and behind this line before. And he has experience as a starter. Don't forget that as a rookie he replaced DeMarco Murray as the primary running back in 2013 when Murray was injured.
Darren McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but Randle may be the better bet. He was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job. Don't forget about McFadden's struggles when the Raiders' moved to a zone-blocking scheme in 2012.
Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia on the team's receiving roles:
One thing I know about Chip Kelly: He believes in making rookies earn playing time. So don't be surprised/alarmed if Nelson Agholor starts out with the second or third team. But given how advanced Agholor seems to be from a mental standpoint, he could be the exception.
Riley Cooper's role is one we probably haven't discussed enough here. There's a scenario where the Eagles settle on Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Agholor as the top three receivers, leaving Cooper on the sideline. ... But Huff will have to prove he's a more reliable option in his second year to earn those snaps.
As for Matthews' role, my guess is he plays a lot more outside in 2015. I didn't think his size was a huge advantage in the slot last year, even though he was highly productive in that role, and Agholor may be better suited to play inside as a rookie.
Matthews will have to play more than the 65% of the snaps that he played as a rookie. He was the #24 WR in standard formats, so increased playing time should lead to a better finish. We're more interested in just how much Agholor, Huff and Cooper will play.
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.
Via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, the Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is already making an impression a day after signing his contract, even though teams aren’t able to do much resembling football at the moment.
“He did a nice job,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “We weren’t really going full speed out there, just really an introduction to make sure everyone’s got a hat on hat and guys are running to the right spot.
“But he makes a few of those moves and cuts, you understand why we took him where we did.”
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. In fact, GM Tom Telesco used the phrase "impact player" 11 times in Gordon's introductory press conference. Ryan Mathews is gone, so it’s Gordon’s job to lose. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield. Given Todd Gurley’s ACL recovery, we'd also expect that Gordon will be the first rookie running back off the board.
At last check late last month, Giants WR Victor Cruz was doing straight-line running. He hadn't yet reached the point of cutting, even though he claimed to be close. There were "zero doubts" about whether he would be ready for the season opener in September.
Now into early May, Cruz has begun cutting. He's running routes against air (no defenders) and trying to rebuild strength and confidence in the right knee where his patellar tendon tore in an October game against the Eagles.
"We got [to cutting]," Cruz said Tuesday night prior to the 22nd annual United Way of New York City Gridiron Gala at the Hilton in Manhattan. "We started running some intermediate routes on air and stuff like that. It's feeling good. It's feeling tood so far. I think I'm 75-80 percent right now. It's just a matter of building it."
GM Jerry Reese, coach Tom Coughlin and Cruz's teammates all are confident he'll be back for the start of the season. There has been nothing to this point that has indicated otherwise.
Cruz tore his patellar tendon in mid-October, so it's no sure thing that he'll be back for the start of the season, though recent reports are positive. He's not going to get the same number of targets given Odell Beckham's emergence as a top-flight wideout. Cruz will likely play the Randall Cobb role in OC Ben McAdoo's offense, so there is some upside if he's fully healthy by Week 1.
Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer on the team's running back situation:
"I wouldn't write anything down yet with the running back spot. It's too fluid. I made a bold prediction - well, I thought it was bold - that Joseph Randle will run for 1,200 yards in 2015. So that should tell you who I think gets the "bulk" of the carries this season. The Cowboys will go with a committee approach at running back. I don't think you will see a guy come close to 300 carries. It could work out better for Darren McFadden to be a committee guy. He's not been able to stay healthy for most of his career. To me Randle is a better fit for the scheme and showed in small doses he has a feel for the Cowboys' scheme. There is a lot more to playing the position than just running the ball, but to me Randle should be the guy."
McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but Randle may be the better bet. He was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job.
Friday, May 8, 2015, 10:17am
“We’ve been throwing for the past three weeks and I can honestly say I’ve thrown with [Andrew Luck], [Nick Foles] and other guys, and I don’t think I’ve thrown with a guy who has a stronger arm than Sam Bradford,” Ertz said.
“He hasn’t been able to really truly get his full legs underneath him. But the ball still comes out effortlessly, and it’s a lot of fun to run routes with him.”
“Really just talking with Coach Kelly and knowing I’m coming with the opportunity to compete for the starting job,” Sanchez said, via CSN Philly. “That was important to me. There were some other opportunities out there, but I didn’t want to switch systems again. On a one-year deal, it’s different for maybe a defensive player then for an offensive player, especially a quarterback. You’ve got to learn a whole new language again. I started to feel real comfortable and I felt like to be honest, personally, there’s some unfinished business we left out there. I know I can play a little bit better than that. I know we can get this team in the playoffs. I think we have the talent to do that.”
We believe that it's Bradford's job to lose. Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia quarterbacks have averaged 16.7 passing game-only fantasy points. Bradford isn’t much of a runner, but he adds about 0.7 FP per game as a rusher. That adds up to 17.4 FP, or about what Eli Manning averaged as the #13 QB in 2014. The Eagles’ offense has lost their top receiver – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – in each of the last two seasons, but Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are emerging and the team added Nelson Agholor in the draft. If Bradford ends up starting for the Eagles, we wouldn’t expect anything more than high-end QB2 numbers, but this is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
“The really, really talented ones are going to get drafted high. A top back is going to touch the ball 15 to 20 times a game, at least, a top receiver maybe eight or nine. You’ve got to have one.
“And I’ve always prescribed to the theory that you’ve got to have more than one of them. Melvin gives us that dynamic -- he can make the big play (which Mathews, whose longest run from scrimmage was 51 yards, his second-longest 39, could not). We’ve been a long-drive offense.”
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. In fact, Telesco used the phrase "impact player" 11 times in Gordon's introductory press conference. Ryan Mathews is gone, so it’s Gordon’s job to lose. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield. Given Todd Gurley’s ACL recovery, we'd also expect that Gordon will be the first rookie running back off the board (in the 3rd round?).
Prosecutors in Wichita, Kansas, cited a lack of evidence in deciding not to charge Randle, according to Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:21pm
Eagles TE Zach Ertz did his homework and was told that retired offensive line coach Hudson Houck still trained players. So he called Houck, who mentored Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews at Southern Cal and coached the great Cowboys lines of the 1990s, out of the blue. Soon after, they spent two weeks together in San Diego working on blocking.
Ertz' time with Houck was just one part of his offseason plan. He spent a month focusing on strength training, another on circuit training and additional time on mixed martial arts training. He also sought out former tight end great Tony Gonzalez, who instructed Ertz on the importance of preparation and tenacity.
The 24-year-old Ertz's goals are high. He said he wants to be mentioned someday alongside Gonzalez and others in the NFL pantheon of tight ends. But he knows he can't get there if he's playing only 50 percent of offensive snaps, as he did last season.
There's ample reason, though, to believe that Ertz will finally become a focal point of Chip Kelly's offense. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes against the Redskins in the penultimate game of last season. And when asked to explain last month how he'll compensate for the loss of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kelly prominently mentioned Ertz.
"I think he's still growing, and I think Zach will be the first one to tell you that," Kelly said at the NFL meeting. "I think he's working extremely hard in the offseason at continuing to get better."
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) 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 -- DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. If Chip Kelly moves Jordan Matthews outside, then Ertz is a candidate to fill Matthews role in the slot, assuming Kelly is willing to play more two-TE sets to get Ertz on the field. Ertz is currently going in the 8th round of early PPR drafts.
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 8:39pm
Tebow is scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia -- and get a deal done -- in time to be in attendance for the start of the Eagles off-season program Monday.
Friday, April 10, 2015, 4:28pm
Robinson will enter his third season with the Saints as third fiddle with Mark Ingram returning and C.J. Spiller signing with the Saints. The landscape looked quite different one month ago with Ingram being a potentially hot free agent and Pierre Thomas being released.
Ingram will be the clear-cut option for snatching up carries after his breakout 2014 season. Spiller is a far more capable runner in the traditional ground game than Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles the last few seasons.
This means more carries for Ingram and Spiller and less touches for Robinson. The logic entering 2014 was that we'd see more Robinson. Barring injuries, Robinson will likely find fewer opportunities.
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 10:25am
According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals are expected to re-sign the veteran running back later today.
The Bengals like Peerman’s ability on special teams, as he has just 64 carries in his five seasons there.
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