Philadelphia Eagles roundup: Does Jay Ajayi play Sunday?
The addition of Jay Ajayi has Philadelphia Eagles salivating, but the question is whether or not he will make his team debut in week nine.
Perhaps the only thing about the Philadelphia Eagles‘ addition of Jay Ajayi that fans might find frustrating is the prospect that they may have to wait to see him on the field. Could he play Sunday versus the Denver Broncos? It’s not an impossibility. We’ve seen it on more than one occasion.
The most encouraging thing about Ajayi’s chances is the fact that, though he plays the NFL‘s most punishing position, running back is also the one spot on offense where the man filling that role has the biggest license to freelance. As Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro put it, just this week, “There are only so many ways to run the football in this great game”.
Weighing Philly’s options:
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As Spadaro so eloquently put it, there are basic concepts and plays that exist in every NFL team’s running game. There are counters, draws, dives, pitches and etcetera. When you dig a little deeper, what the Miami Dolphins were doing with Ajayi won’t differ that much from what the Eagles are planning to do. That means the majority of Ajayi’s learning curve will center around terminology, audibles and protections.
It now becomes the responsibility of running backs coach Duce Staley to add Ajayi to a room that already includes Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner and LeGarrette Blount. Ajayi will now lean on his teammates, for the experience they’ve already gained in this system, and his coaches to tie it all together.
How much of a shot does he have at playing on November 5th though? After all, he just joined the team on October 31st. Head coach Doug Pederson didn’t necessarily answer the question, nor did he cooperate with anyone’s questions about each back’s role. What he did say, however, is worth noting.
Take a look:
"It all depends on how well he does pick it up, and listen, you can’t just throw everything at him right away. He’s got to sort of push Miami’s offense out one side and embrace ours. It’s harder to do than easier. We’ve just got to spend some extra time with him and do the best we can to get him at least a few plays that he’s comfortable with."
Well that settles it then, right? They can just add a few plays or maybe a package that can showcase Ajayi, and we can get the ball rolling. Well, that may not exactly work either. Pederson continued:
The reason it may not be an option:
"That stuff sometimes takes time. It takes a lot of communication. It might be watching film and showing him some looks and some different things. I think with Duce (Staley) as his running backs coach, Duce does such a great job with all the running backs. I think he’ll get him up to speed really quick. We’ll just have to get through that."
So with that being said, we may have learned nothing. As Pederson said, “All he’s known is Miami and we’ve got to get that out.” As fans, we recognize the Broncos are bringing the second-ranked rush defense to Philly in week nine, and it would be nice to see every weapon at the offense’s disposal available. It may have to wait though. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take too long. With Ajayi, Philly may have their most versatile and complete running back on the roster. The head coach agrees.
Closing statements from the coach:
"This guy’s a tough, powerful runner and he’s got great vision. He’s got a great first step, quick back inside behind tackles and guards. One guy doesn’t necessarily bring him down all the time. You have to go back a little bit to really watch him run routes and see that he’s very capable of being a route runner out of the backfield and brings a really aggressive run demeanor to our offense."
We’re convinced. Is it Sunday yet?