Young Runners

Posted: February 18th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 32 Comments »

Ryan Mathews will become an ex-Eagle sometime in the near future. He was the Eagles leading rusher in 2016, but age, price, durability and fumbles are among the reasons the team is ready to move on. There is no clear replacement for Mathews on the roster.

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare.

Darren Sproles remains a terrific role player. He ran for 438 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry last year. I don’t think people understand what a good runner he is because there is so much focus on him as a receiver and returner. Sproles is at his best in space, but he’s better than people think at running between the tackles. He’s just not a guy you want to feed the ball to 20 times a game.

What about the young guys?

Wendell Smallwood played in 13 games and showed good potential. I loved his vision and patience. Those are key traits for a good RB. You must allow your blockers to do their job and you also need to be able to see where the hole is.

Smallwood did have a costly fumble in the Dallas game. He also got hurt late in the year and missed the final 3 games. I don’t know if he has what it takes to be a starting RB in the league, but at the least I think he can be a good backup.

Byron Marshall was very impressive in the preseason, but that was mostly against 3rd stringers. I wasn’t sure if he was ready to play as a rookie. When Smallwood got hurt, Marshall was added to the roster and he took advantage of the situation.

Marshall showed vision and burst. He can make sharp cuts. He has outstanding lateral agility. He reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles. I don’t know that he’ll be that good (not many are), but Marshall can be a terrific role player in his own right.

Terrell Watson is a big, physical runner. He showed potential late in the year.

I still see him as more of a project / long shot. This spring and summer are going to be crucial for his NFL future.

Kenjon Barner is the mystery man. There are times when he shows really good ability. At the same time, he only has 61 carries in his 4-year career and is about to turn 28 in April. The coaches like him enough to keep him around, but never seem to want to play him on a regular basis. Barner is a restricted free agent this year. It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do. They will tender him low, if they want him back at all. It is possible they’ll just let him walk.


32 Comments on “Young Runners”

  1. 1 Young Runners - said at 10:59 PM on February 18th, 2017:

    […] Tommy Lawlor Ryan Mathews will become an ex-Eagle sometime in the near future. He was the Eagles leading rusher […]

  2. 2 LAEaglesFan said at 11:00 PM on February 18th, 2017:

    Eagles need to find a way to get Fournette in midnight green. I would love to see Wents/Fournette vs Prescott/Elliott for years to come. That would make for an epic time in the Eagles/Cowboys rivalry.

  3. 3 Media Mike said at 4:17 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Fist of all it would 100% obvious and worth punching people in the head until they agreed that Wentz / Fournette would be FAR superior to Prescott / Elliot.

    And no matter what team Fournette joins (unless he’s a Giant), we all know he’s already much better than Elliot.

  4. 4 Sb2bowl said at 6:20 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    I don’t want us to draft him, but he seems like the prospect that people will be wondering why they didn’t draft him when they had the chance.

    First and only guy I legitimately thought looked similar to Bo Jackson is size, speed and fluidity.

    But very little nift. Bo had nift. Leonard don’t know nift.

  5. 5 GordonGekko said at 4:43 PM on February 21st, 2017:

    Of the top 10 rushers last season only one was a first rd pick, that was Elliot, the others were drafted in the mid later rounds. Draft a CB or a WR in the first.

  6. 6 Mitchell said at 12:27 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    Watching the two Ohio CB’s several things stand out to me: 1. Gareon Conley is better than Lattimore at this point in their careers. Lattimore turns and bails on routes literally every play. He’s gonna get beat on hitches over and over in the NFL. I’m not sure if this is something that is taught but there is essentially no mirroring from him. When he tries to mirror the WR he gets beat anyway. Of the two int’s he had that I saw, one was him bailing on the play and running the route for the WR and the QB threw a STUPID pass and the second was on a throw that the qb threw across his body. The WR was open on the play but not from where the QB was throwing it from. 3. Conley mirrors much better but still bails early too often, however, he looks very good in the slot believe it or not. 4. It looks like Lattimore has the potential to be a very fluid corner but it just doesn’t look like he trusts himself yet. I don’t think Gym Schwartz would find this very appealing. 5 While both having trouble turning their head when the ball is in the air, Lattimore is worse. Overall, I’m sticking with Sydney Jones as my CB to take at 15. Not sure I would pick either Ohio CB in round 1.

  7. 7 kajomo said at 12:59 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    I think Jones is my top guy for the eagles right now.

    I could not disagree more with your assessment of Lattimore vs Conley. While both are good prospects Lattimore is a legit top 10 guy. He has superior athleticism and his ability to mirror WRs is one of his strengths. He needs some coaching (he is RS who missed time with injuries), but he has true lockdown CB potential. While I think Jones’s playmaking ability will appeal to the eagles, I think Lattimore will be the 1st CB off the board.

  8. 8 Mitchell said at 1:17 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    While there is no doubt his athleticism is top notch, I just don’t see the mirroring, he just bails out every time. I’m gonna post this link to the Clemson game for arguments sake: 1st play doesn’t mirror, bails right away. 2nd Mirrors for a couple steps, good coverage. 3rd bails before the ball is snapped. 4th mirrors a step and bails giving the WR easy inside leverage for an easy possible completion. 5th bails before the ball is snapped. 6th bails again has to work back to the RB and completely whiffs on tackle. 7th bails and easy screen catch for WR this is what I think he will get burned on in the NFL, comebacks screen etc. 8th good coverage. 9th WR switches to the other side of play. 10th run play, good tackle. IDK I’m no expert and like I said I’m not sure if this is technique taught but I see a guy who looks better because of a dominant front 7 and who will struggle in the NFL early due to major technique work. He’s gonna get beat time and time again by hitches. Just imagine what Aaron Rodgers would do to this poor boy. I think he is drafted on athletic ability and his ceiling.

  9. 9 Insomniac said at 1:43 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    I think you’re confusing “bailing” for the shuffle technique. This guy explains it very well but Lattimore is more than athletic enough to do both techniques.

  10. 10 Mitchell said at 2:24 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    Yeh that’s what I was wondering but he still just turns and runs on so many other plays. Its like hes playing the 9 route every time. I can see the flexibility, the speed, the loose hips but I also see a 1 year starter behind a great front 7 who needs refined technique, IMO. Great video btw, thanks.

  11. 11 Insomniac said at 1:50 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Better pro than college player. In a way, he’s polished but incredibly unrefined as a player. He has a lot of room for improvement and he’s already pretty good.

  12. 12 GordonGekko said at 4:45 PM on February 21st, 2017:

    Take some Serene Theanine for sleep, that will help you. Get it at AMZN.

  13. 13 kajomo said at 8:37 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    Correct. Things like this are what make projecting players to the NFL so difficult. Colleges have different schemes, teach different techniques, and aren’t always playing against/with other NFL talent.

    That is why I focus on traits and athletic profile. NFL coaches get paid to coach them up. If a player is coachable and highly athletic I feel they have a greater chance of success.

  14. 14 Insomniac said at 1:57 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Yup, it helps if they’re already pretty good too. I think Lattimore can fit any scheme since he can do it all. Teach him, refine him, and you’ll possibly get a CB that can play on an island.

  15. 15 GENETiC-FREAK said at 4:22 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Just watched the clip. Is he playing some sort of man zone? Get what you saying if him bailing. Its like he lines up makes the QB think its man but runs back to a zone then if its not deep he plays man..?

  16. 16 Mitchell said at 5:30 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Idk man. Nfl draft profile says he can run the 9 route for the receiver and im like, yeh, that’s all he covers.

  17. 17 Media Mike said at 4:15 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Thank you for the endorsement of Jones. I hope he’s here shutting down O-dumb Bitchum and shutting up Giants fans.

  18. 18 Corry said at 8:47 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    This is a bit off topic, but Fran Duffy is a treasure for Eagles fans. I love his film breakdowns and clips he posts on Twitter. Great, great stuff.

  19. 19 daveH said at 10:41 AM on February 19th, 2017:

    Thank u i will look for it

  20. 20 Media Mike said at 4:15 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    He ended my Marlon Mack interest in 3 tweets.

  21. 21 Sb2bowl said at 6:18 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    I’m lazy- mind posting what he said here?

  22. 22 Media Mike said at 6:42 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    I’m having trouble finding it. Long story short; he was ripping him for doing way too many Bryce Brown type sweeps for no reason.

  23. 23 Sb2bowl said at 8:56 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Got it. I’ll have a dig later this week to see if I can locate it.

    On one side, wouldn’t that be part of coaching? In other words, if we got him in round 5/6, we wouldn’t be expecting a complete back to come in and start.

  24. 24 Media Mike said at 4:14 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    “Kenjon Barner is the mystery man.”

    No mystery at all. He never deserved a spot on the roster above Josey in 2014 or Mostert in 2015 and he’s certainly not worth having on this team in 2017 at the number he’d need to be tendered.

    Bye bye Barner.

  25. 25 sonofdman said at 4:58 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Thank you for this. I was getting worried that you hadn’t commented about Barner yet. It’s nice to know there are some things we can rely on.

  26. 26 Media Mike said at 5:55 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    I don’t need to shoehorn him into the conversation, unless we’re talking RBs / roster, but having him come up was a freebie.

  27. 27 CrackSammich said at 6:10 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Sept 4, 2015: cut by Eagles. Signed to practice squad.
    Sept 14, signed to Dolphins and returned a total of two kicks.
    October 13 released.
    October 14. Signed by Ravens. Returned 5 total kicks.
    December 15th released.
    December 16th signed by the Browns. Returned 12 kicks total.
    March 7, 2016. Signed one year tender with Browns.
    September 4, 2016.Waived by Browns when they claimed someone else off of waivers.
    September 12, 2016. Released from Jets’ practice squad.
    September 13. Signed to Bears Practice Squad. Elevated to roaster Sept 21, and demoted back to PS on October 3 and 4.
    November 24. Released by Bears
    November 28. Signed to 49ers practice squad. Promoted to roster December 31.

    May 10, 2014. Signed by Eagles. Released Aug 29.
    August 31. Signed to Jaguars PS.
    December 24. Signed off PS by Vikings.
    May 26, 2015. Signed with Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.
    He’s no longer playing pro football.

    One is a free agent after being cut by 7 different teams, and the other couldn’t make it in the CFL. I’m not going to say Barner is better than either, because any of the three would be the 53rd man on the roster. For my money, Barner is a better punt returner than the others are RBs.

  28. 28 Media Mike said at 6:38 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Both still would have been better here in the same role. Both players outperformed Barner snap for snap in live game action in the same preseason games in aggregate.

    And I’d rather have Sproles returning punts.

  29. 29 FairOaks said at 6:46 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    Not necessarily block for block though. If Barner is a much better blocker than those guys, that probably seals it — RBs almost always need to block, otherwise you know it’s a run whenever they are on the field. If those guys could not block and showed no inclination to learn, it’s pretty fatal to being in the NFL.

    Similar would be return ability. Sproles has been great there, but you need other options, and backup RB is one roster spot where you like to have an option.

    So just because they look good running in preseason, it does not mean they are the best use of a roster spot. And if seven other teams also let him go, it’s a very safe bet they all know way more than we do.

  30. 30 Media Mike said at 6:48 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    “And if seven other teams also let him go, it’s a very safe bet they all know way more than we do.”

    I’d have to know who they kept in place of those guys and how much better they also are than Barner.

  31. 31 CrackSammich said at 7:52 PM on February 19th, 2017:

    All three are mediocre RBs. Barner is a plus punt returner, and would be handling duties if Sproles got hurt. I’d imagine the staff felt that was more important, and you’ve been crying about a completely unrelated topic for 3 years.

  32. 32 GordonGekko said at 4:41 PM on February 21st, 2017:

    Draft 2 RBs and sign a couple undrafted FA RBs. Sproles is in his last year and the other two stink.