With Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles returning soon, should they limit him to a special teams only role?
This week, the Philadelphia Eagles are in a tight spot. With the Dallas Cowboys defeating the New Orleans Saints, they have officially taken over first place in the NFC East. If the Eagles can beat the Washington Redskins, they stay relevant in the playoff hunt. If they don’t, well, we can pretty much call that a season then. With the Eagles getting back some injured players, defeating Washington should absolutely be possible.
However, there is one returning player that could shake things up for better or for worse. On Monday, the Eagles could potentially get running back Darren Sproles back into the mix. After spending pretty much all of the 2018 season injured, Sproles is finally back on the practice field once again and hasn’t had any setbacks yet.
Although the Eagles backfield has been struggling throughout the year, they finally found a strategy that worked last weekend – Give Josh Adams the ball. But with Sproles back into the mix, a lot can change. Sproles could either be limited to being just a return man. Or he could eat up some of the carries that Josh Adams has earned over the last couple of weeks.
What kind of role does Darren Sproles deserve?
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Before I shoot off an opinion, I am going to just assume what I think the Eagles are going to do. Let’s be honest; there’s some sort of undying loyalty for Darren Sproles within the Eagles coaching staff. With Duce Staley running the rotation, Sproles is going to get a significant amount of snaps. That’s just the way it is, and always will be as long as Sproles is on the field ready to go.
Is that the right move? Probably not. It’s clear that bringing Sproles back was a sentimental move for the Eagles, which is fine at this point. But cutting into Adams workload will not only hurt his development, but it could damage the offense as well. There have been too many changes in personnel throughout the season, and Doug Pederson and Mike Groh have struggled to figure out a strategy that can make it all work.
The offensive line had a few shake-ups, and they have been struggling all year long. The Eagles traded for Golden Tate, and now nothing is natural in the passing game, but instead forced to try and cater to the wideout since he cost them a third-round pick.
And as far as the backfield goes, there’s been an injury to Jay Ajayi, a few weeks of nothing but Wendell Smallwood, and now it’s Josh Adams time to shine. But if the Eagles try to squeeze too much of Sproles into the mix, that just causes yet, another dilemma for the offense.
Don’t make the same mistakes twice
Remember the first time Darren Sproles was going to return to the field? The Eagles waived their return man, DeAndre Carter who was a top ten returner for the Eagles. The very next day, Sproles went down with an injury, and the Eagles were stuck without a return man until they traded for Tate. That’s not to say that the Eagles will cut Adams when Sproles returns, but again, moving away from the initial plan that is starting to work all for Sproles is a mistake.
The rest of the season cannot be used as a time to let someone get their final set of carries in. The Eagles still have a chance to make a run, and they can’t rely on a veteran running back who hasn’t seen the field since week one. The Eagles need to stick to the original plans on offense and keep Adams as the featured back with a splash of Corey Clement in the change-of-pace role.