Controversy and confusion surround Eagles running back unit despite close Week 1 win versus Patriots

The excitement Eagles fans felt over D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny's additions has been replaced by controversy and confusion following Philly's Week 1 win.
D'Andre Swift
D'Andre Swift / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Eagles squeaked out a victory versus the New England Patriots, ruining Tom Brady's celebration with a final score of 25-20. A win is a win in the NFL and every team will take each win regardless of how they come. There are reasons for optimism following Philly's Week 1 performance in Gillette Stadium, but there are also a few decisions that just don't seem to make sense.

D'Andre Swift was one of the big free-agent offensive acquisitions for the Iggles. His signing brought excitement because of his explosiveness and versatility, but when game one came, he was only trusted with one carry. That decision was puzzling.

If no one else remembers Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season, it should be Eagles fans. As a then-member of the Detroit Lions, Swift ran for 144 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He added another 31 yards on three receptions which was good for a 10.3 yards-per-reception average. With that being said, relegating such a talent to one carry in the season opener is a mystery to most, especially seeing as how Philly struggled on offense for most of the afternoon.

The Philadelphia Eagles' questionable roster decisions at running back began before Week 1's kickoff.

Rashaad Penny was another potential piece of the offensive puzzle acquired in the off-season. It was a low-risk, high-reward signing that helped electrify the fan base. His addition added to the belief that the Eagles were all in on another title push.

Penny posted 6.1 and 6.3 yards-per-carry averages over the past two seasons. He also, at the time of this story being published, is the owner of the highest yards-per-carry average in league history.

Placing that type of talent behind such a dominant offensive line should breed exceptional results. That means nothing if said talent is a healthy scratch. Boston Scott took up residency as the Eagles' third running back on their depth chart.

One could say Kenneth Gainwell has been a victim of circumstance. Playing behind Miles Sanders could very well have limited his ability to reach his potential, but he has gotten many touches as the second tailback on Philadelphia's depth chart over the years.

Gainwell averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season. While that is a very good number, it still falls short of what we have seen from Penny in past seasons and the 5.5 yards per carry from Swift last season. If the Eagles want more explosion and variety from their running game, they must consider theories that include leaning on the players who have shown more consistent explosive ability over the course of their NFL careers.

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