Acquiring the rushing leader from 2014 seemed like a good idea at the time, regardless of the cost, right? LeSean McCoy was proving to be too ineffective and inconsistent for Chip Kelly’s needs, so he got a “north-south” runner like DeMarco Murray.
OK, so you know all of this. This is all old news for Philadelphia Eagles fans. How about some facts that fans might have forgotten?
Last year, the Eagles run game was brutally bad on many occasions. Its ineffectiveness was maddening beyond belief, especially with offensive lineman after offensive lineman going down with injuries. The makeshift line that changed every week couldn’t block a two-year old child from getting to the running back, causing fans to criticize McCoy. But was the problem really McCoy?
It’s starting to seem like they had way bigger problems on their hands. The injuries to their offensive line exposed their lack of depth at the position, preventing McCoy from gaining more than a yard or so on each play. In no way am I suggesting they shouldn’t have traded McCoy, because I still fully support that move. But the run game last year (at this point) was good compared to this year.
Let’s take a look at some comparisons. In 2014, here are McCoy’s rushing totals for each of the first four weeks: 74, 79, 22 and 17. While the Eagles would probably kill to have this production thus far from Murray, McCoy still only averaged 2.8 yards per carry, a very poor number. It was one of the lowest totals among starting running backs in the league. In Week 3 against the Redskins, he rushed for 22 yards on 19 carries. The week after against the 49ers, he had 17 yards, but was only given the ball 10 times. And it’s not like the team was just using other people…the team finished that game with 22 rushing yards.
In two of the first four games in 2014, the Eagles still surpassed 100 rushing yards, a solid total, even if it wasn’t all from McCoy. In 2015, the Eagles have surpassed the century mark on the ground just once (Week 3), mostly thanks to Mathews, even against the stout Jets defense.
In the first four weeks of 2015, Murray has rushed for 47 total yards. He missed Week 3 due to injury, but his game high is still just 36 yards (which came Sunday against the Redskins). In 2014, his lowest single-game output was 58 rushing yards, higher than his entire 2015 season total. So, I think it’s fair to say he’s not off to a great start.
You probably thought Murray would bounce back from his 9-yard output in Week 1 to dominate against his former team, right? Nope, he mustered just two yards on 13 carries, including a long of nine yards. You do the math there because it’s hurting my head to even think about.
And then of course you have Murray asking for more touches after Week 4. More touches? So you can gain one yard each time? There’s no doubt the Eagles need to run the ball more, but Murray is averaging just 1.6 yards per carry this year, and if that doesn’t change soon, he may fall out of favor for the starting job.
However, I don’t think his job is really in jeopardy right now. Even though Mathews dominated in his one game as a starter, the Eagles invested too much money in Murray to bench him after three games. He should eventually get his footing and break off some big games. He really only needs one big game to get him going. When will that come though? Hopefully sooner rather than later, because the Eagles really need his production.
So the Eagles have arrived at a bit of a dilemma. They need to establish the run game in order to move the ball on offense, but they can’t seem to do that because the offensive line has been poor. So then they end up passing. But then people say “they need to run the ball more.” But if they’re gaining so few yards each run play, does it really make sense to run the ball? All of these questions are staring Kelly right in the face, and he needs to address them immediately.
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