Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Projecting The Backfield


A new day brings a new position group to project.  Up today: the backfield.

Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Dion Lewis (28) runs with the ball during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost I think this position remains largely unchanged in terms of personnel.  Other than the addition of Damaris Johnson and Desean Jackson for a few touches a game (which I wrote about yesterday) I don’t see the faces at this spot changing all that much.

However, the potential I do see for change here is going to surprise a lot of people, and honestly is a bit of a projection on my part.

Anyways, LeSean “Baby Mama Drama” McCoy is still one of the top 5 backs in the league.  His lateral movement ability and shifty quickness make him darn near impossible for the first guy to bring down about 85-90% of the time.

But he was and is a back that fit really well into what the Eagles wanted to do under Andy Reid and may be one of those fan favorite players to not fit so seamlessly into a Chip Kelly offense.

The Eagles wanted to spread the field and run the ball from passing formations, attacking the defense by stretching them out and getting the ball to McCoy in space, whereas Chip enjoys the line up and beat the guy across from you even though he probably knows what you’re about to do, kind of mentality.

That being said, I don’t think McCoy is going anywhere anytime soon, so put the pitchforks down and douse the torches.  He’ll find a home, and a potentially pretty happy one at that, in Chip Kelly’s offense this year.  What might happen however is that you see Bryce Brown or Dion Lewis (And the DJ’s.  They surely have taken lessons.) getting increased touches.

Now, right off the bat I have to say, obvious though it may be, that Brown’s role in all of this hinges on his learning how to hold onto the football, because if there’s one thing that Chip Kelly or really any coach at any level of any sport hates, its turnovers.

So, provided Bryce “Baby Bo” Brown can improve his handle on the ball, and/or Dion Lewis can hold up to more of a workload, (Plus, ya know, Damaris and Desean, did I mention them?) I think what you’ll start to see is the ball and the touches being spread out a lot more.

Which some may see as Lesean McCoy being phased out of the offense a bit.  Which may not sit so well with him.  Which could upset him and his entourage which could cause some friction in the locker room, which might make him…see where I’m going with this?

Now even though I don’t think that will be the correct read on the situation, McCoy, being young and prideful, may very well take it as such, starting a long chain of events, culminating in his possibly leaving the team in some way a couple seasons from now.

Ok, I know, I know.  Quite the projection, right?  But if you think about it for a second, it makes a lot of sense.  And the return the Birds could get in trade on a situation like this stands to be mighty enticing, especially for a team in transition that has a lot of holes on the defensive side of the ball.  Just sayin.

Which is all really just a very long drawn out way of positing basically that McCoy is going to lose some touches to some other people with the end result of that possibly being misinterpreted by McCoy and/or the media with potentially negative results.

But the real bottom-line for me is I don’t see the Eagles addressing this position in any way really this offseason.  Even fullback seems pretty set with a competition of Emil Igwenagu and Stanley Havili battling it out for a lone roster spot.

Both are decent to good blockers with plus athleticism so I think Chip will be happy going into the season with the winner of that fight as his starter.

Most of the changes we’ll see are simply going to be in terms of who gets how many touches.

Which brings me to Dion Lewis.  I think Dion especially gets a lot more touches.

I really never understood why Lewis seemed to jump to the back of the pack in Training Camp this year.  I guess something either happened (Yes, there was this.  But come on.  Who hasn’t been drunk outside of a hotel before?) to get him into the doghouse or Reid and Marty simply thought that Bryce Brown and Chris Polk were better and/or needed the reps more than Lewis.

Whatever it was, I don’t think it continues with the new regime.  I think Chris Polk learns how to play fullback or he get’s gone.  I think Bryce, immense talent though he may be, is going to continue having problems holding onto the football.  And I think Lewis has looked pretty darn good in the few instances where he’s gotten the ball in a game situation.

He’s small so he’s hard to track behind the line, and he’s got really good lower body strength, so he can break some open field tackles.  He also seems like a pretty good receiver out of the backfield so I think Chip finds plenty of ways to get him on the field and get him the ball.

But like I said, those touches don’t come without a correlating loss of touches and I think McCoy get’s less while some combination of Dion Lewis, Damaris Johnson and Desean get more, with Brown’s contribution hinging on his ball security.

All right, that’s it for now.  Offensive line is next!