End of Season Review and Analysis of Running Backs
- Updated: January 1, 2015
LeSean McCoy (RB)
In his 6th season, McCoy was voted to Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons. McCoy whom had close to the same amount of carries (312) as he had in 2013 (314), may have not reached his goals of 2,000 rushing yards or matched last year’s career season of 1,607 rushing yards but his 1,319 yards was good enough for 3rd highest in the NFL. McCoy struggled much of the season to find consistency, where he only had two consecutive games where he went over the 100 yard mark (weeks 12/13). Considering what McCoy had to deal with this season it is remarkable that he even reached 1,319 yards. The one element of his game that was disappointing, was his fumbles (3).
McCoy never played one down with the group that led him to 1,607 in 2013. From the beginning, McCoy saw all of his offensive lineman go down with injuries. The only offensive lineman to start every game this season was left tackle Jason Peters. In addition to playing with obliterated offensive lineman most of the season, defensive coordinators started the season by putting extra defenders in the box to stop McCoy but as the season went and defenses started to figure out the blocking schemes of the inside/outside zone runs they could play the run out of a base defense. The following link is an example… http://eaglespostgame.com/eagles-problems-running-ball-rb-analysis-vs-packers.
When the blocking was there, McCoy produced. In the below, Brent Celek does a great job of sealing the edge and the receivers hold up on the outside to open the hole for McCoy to pick up the big gain.
If Chip Kelly is thinking about not bring back a guy who overcame all that we just touched to still make the pro bowl and finish 3rd in the NFL in rushing this would be a bigger mistake than letting Desean Jackson go. McCoy has plenty left in the tank and the running back is the most important part of this offense as the passing game works off of the play action to the running back. Chip has to make sure the starters get healthy and add quality depth to the offensive line. Kelly also needs to add more variety to the running game because right now it is very vanilla and teams have figured out the scheme.
Darren Sproles (RB)
The decision to trade for the versatile Darren Sproles this off season paid dividends as the 10 year veteran made a major impact on special teams as well as in the backfield and was voted to his first pro bowl. Sproles, not only led the NFL but set career highs in punt return yards (506), yards per punt return average (13.0) and punt return touchdowns (2). In image 1 below Sproles does a great job of making the first guy miss and follow his blocks and in image 2 he just runs away from the punter who is the last line of defense.
Certain player skill sets are made to play in specific systems and Chip Kelly knew the speedy Sproles would be a great addition to McCoy in the backfield in his spread offense. Sproles finished the season with 329 yards on 57 attempts and a career high 6 touchdowns. Sproles who is always a mismatch out of the backfield against any linebacker added 40 receptions for 387 yards.
Count on Sproles who will be going into his 11th season to play out the last two years on his contract. Chip Kelly needs to find ways to get Sproles more touches in the passing game and get more creative and put him and McCoy in the backfield together so the running game isn’t so predictable.
Chris Polk (RB)
Polk in his 3rd season saw career highs in attempts (46) and touchdowns (4). Being the third string running back behind McCoy and Sproles, Polk saw limited opportunities but delivered when his number was called especially against the Dallas Cowboys were he produced two touchdowns. The powerful downhill running back was used mostly in short yardage and goal line situations.
Expect the Eagles to bring back Chris Polk who is a restricted free agent. Polk has earned more touches but because of his down hill running style, don’t expect him to get many more touches due to his inability to stretch the defense on the outside zone running plays. Polk most likely will get more goal line touches and if he produces early will remain the primary short yardage back.
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