Let’s Talk About RBs

Posted: July 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 35 Comments »

The Eagles have a great RB in LeSean McCoy. He’s the kind of special talent you can build an offense around. Luckily Chip Kelly got here while McCoy was still in his prime and is feeding him the ball quite a bit. Last year McCoy won the NFL rushing title. You can think of him as the best RB in the league, which McCoy himself does. I still think Adrian Peterson is a better player, but McCoy would be #2. Even his harshest critics aren’t going to have him much below that.

After McCoy is where things open up quite a bit.

Last year Bryce Brown was the clear backup, but the Eagles dealt him during the NFL draft. We can’t really talk about the RB situation without talking about Brown and that deal. Why would the Eagles trade a player with Brown’s talent?

We don’t have a definitive answer, but there are a few guesses. First up, you wonder how Brown fit Kelly’s football culture. This isn’t to say Brown was a bad guy at all. He never got in trouble and I didn’t hear a word about him, but his background suggests there may have been some issues with fitting in a football program. Kelly wants players that buy in to his Total Football concept. Maybe Brown didn’t do that.

Then there is his on-field performance. Brown showed great potential in 2012, but struggled last year. His fumbling issue went away, but he never looked all that comfortable in the offense. Brown tried to run outside a lot, with poor results. In his defense, it seemed like the Eagles ran him outside a lot as well. Either way, we only saw glimpses of the player from 2012.

One of the things that drives Kelly the craziest is inconsistent players. He would rather have a good player that is consistent than a special talent who only plays great once a month. You can’t count on that guy. Maybe Kelly saw Brown as someone in that category.

We also have to talk about the other players. You don’t move your backup RB (and not replace him) unless you are comfortable with some players already on the roster. Maybe this move was as much about Chris Polk as it was Brown. Polk only ran 11 times in 2013, but did show good potential. Kelly played him more and more as the season went along. Polk is a N-S runner with good strength and is an excellent fit for Kelly’s system.

Beyond that, he is a great complement to McCoy. Shady loves to make dynamic cuts and that keeps the defense on their heels. Polk is an attacking RB. He runs behind his pads and gets upfield. Think of Shady as the pitcher with the devastating breaking ball and Polk as the guy who throws fastballs. That presents the defense with contrasting styles to deal with in the same game.

We also have to think about Darren Sproles. I wrote about him the other day. Sproles will technically be the backup RB, but I do wonder if he or Polk will have more carries. Sproles career high is 93 carries, which would be just under 6 a game. Polk is more of a workhorse based on what he did in college. He is a guy you can feed the ball to. If the Eagles get a lead, Polk might be the RB who gets used to spell McCoy late in the game. His running style also fits that situation.

The Eagles have a terrific set of RBs if McCoy stays healthy. If he gets hurt, things get interesting.

My guess is that Kelly would make Polk the starter and would keep Sproles as the role player. Kelly saw Polk in college and knows he can be a workhorse if needed. My first memory of Chris Polk came in a game vs Notre Dame. He was dragging multiple tacklers up the field on every play. I love tough runners who don’t go down easily. Polk took a beating in college, but is now completely healthy and I’m sure he’s dying to get touches.

Beyond the Big 3, you have Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey and David Fluellen. Tucker showed some potential last summer and has an advantage because he knows the scheme and at least has some idea what the NFL is like. The other 2 RBs are both UDFAs. I think Josey is the player to watch. He has the kind of running style that Kelly loves and has enough speed to create big plays if he gets free at the second level. Josey had serious injuries in college so he’s got to show he can stay healthy and take an NFL pounding. I’m just not sure Fluellen has quite enough quickness or speed for the NFL.

I really do hope we get to see Polk used more this year. I loved him in college and it would be good to see him emerge as a key role player for this team. I am curious to see if McCoy’s touches go down. Kelly talked about wanting to use him less, but McCoy always pleads for every touch possible. With Sproles in the mix and Polk on the rise, Kelly might use more of a group approach. Still expect McCoy to get his 250 ro 275 carries. He had 314 last year. And who knows…McCoy might get another 300 this year. Kelly is going to run the ball.

* * * * *

Mark Saltveit wrote a good piece on the Eagles STs for FishDuck. He covers all the units and their issues.

As he says, STs were a major disappointment in 2013. Kelly spent time and resources to improve them, but didn’t get the results last year. Kelly is again trying to fix the problem. We need to see better results.

Kelly and Dave Fipp know who did and didn’t play well last year. This involves more than just tackles. Did the players take good angles to the ball? Did they run around blocks instead of fighting through them? Did the players block well on returns? There is a lot of subtlety to STs that is lost on the casual viewer.

I think the STs will be upgraded this year.

Chris Maragos vs Colt Anderson
Bryan Braman vs Casey Matthews
Nolan Carroll vs Roc Carmichael

Marcus Smith replaces…Brandon Graham maybe?

Fipp will also have a full offseason with Najee Goode, who could be a key STer this year. Zach Ertz will be in Year 2. Some of the backup DL can help. I also think Brad Smith has good value, as a STer and as a leader for the STs.

There are plenty of reasons to be encouraged, but the proof will be in the pudding (and you know I love pudding). The players must perform better.


35 Comments on “Let’s Talk About RBs”

  1. 1 RogerPodacter said at 3:52 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    my concern with STs is that Donnie Jones & Brandon Boykin were GREAT last year. can they repeat the performance? maybe this year, boykin gets a punt down at the 1, but was touching the endzone at the same time. or gets a funny bounce and it goes into the endzone anyway. just hoping we weren’t *lucky* last year and then get *unlucky* this year

  2. 2 GEAGLE said at 4:46 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Maybe….. But Donnie and Boykin didn’t just combine for one or two Great punts…Boykin was downing them inside the 5yard line pretty darn consistently. Now I’m too lazy to look up the numbers, but I don’t know that I can recall seeing a punter and a gunner combining for so many downed punts inside the 10 in one year…for me personally, it was the most impressive punting year I can ever recall seeing….

    WILL Boykin or Donnie screw up one or two of those punts this year? Maybe…possibly….. But are they going to screw up all over the ones they nailed last year? I don’t see that happening….don’t believe that was dumb luck…..and coffin punts aren’t a skill that can diminish with age… Maybe you are punting 70 yards, you wake up one morning and age has caught up to you and you lost a ton of your strength and can no longer punt 70 yards….but Donnie’s strength last year wasn’t the power in which he was punting with,,.his strength was the positional punting, and that’s jiust technique…it’s not something that diminishes as you get older…… Will they have as spectacular of a punting performance as last year? Beats me…. But I feel confident saying that I still expect to see them combine for one of the best duos at getting punts downed inside the 10..,I see no reason why it would diminish THAT much

  3. 3 RobNE said at 5:46 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    is there just one gunner or one on each side? B.c if Nolan was the Dolphins gunner, does that mean he lines up opposite of Boykin and they compete to see who downs more punts inside the 5? Or is there only one?

  4. 4 GEAGLE said at 7:11 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Two gunners, the only two players who are allowed to start running as soon as the ball is snapped…the others have to wait til the ball is kicked

  5. 5 Anders said at 7:31 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    On a punt you still have 5 eligible receivers

  6. 6 GEAGLE said at 10:40 PM on July 25th, 2014:

    But FG only two eligible?

  7. 7 GEAGLE said at 4:39 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Think a big part bout the Bryce equation is the juicy compensation we got in return… RBs are one of the most undervalued positions in football today, and they are at their most undervalued during draft time…I would have NEVER expected us to get that type of compensation for Bryce…
    High caliber NFL players like Anquan BOldin fetch 6th and 7th round picks in a trade…we got INSANE value for a backup. The value we got for Bryce is so good, that it could be a simple case of the Bills Pulled a Don Corleon on us, “making an offer we can’t refuse”.. When you start talking about a potential 4th round pick for a backup we struggle to find snaps for. I could see us not even caring about any of the dynamics listed about, and just looked at it as too much value to pass up….. If he were traded for the 7th or 6th round pick we would have expected, then you have to start looking at all the reasons listed about..

    I’m not trying to say that all the things Tom listed didn’t matter or weren’t taken into account when deciding to trade him…but we got such quality value that I can’t rule out a case of just too good value to not pull the trigger

  8. 8 RobNE said at 5:45 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    can you refresh me on what we got? are we rooting for some other player on a different team to play well, and do you think that will happen?

    any chance the Bills win the AFC East this year? It must be nice being the Pats with just total dysfunction around them year after year. I really hope the Eagles can have that for awhile.

  9. 9 anon said at 6:26 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    we got a 5th that could jump to a 4th if stevie johnson plays well on the 49ers. it’s a 5th most likely which means we traded bb for sproles.

  10. 10 Sean said at 8:08 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    It’s actually a fourth that could become a third.

  11. 11 GEAGLE said at 9:49 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    No, I’m pretty sure it’s a 5th that could become a 4th

  12. 12 Sean said at 9:57 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Not so. http://mweb.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24557207/eagles-trade-rb-bryce-brown-to-bills-for-conditional-draft-pick?v=1&vc=4

  13. 13 GEAGLE said at 10:54 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    wtf, I swear I would have bet money it was a 5th or a 4th,,. Oh well, I’d LOVE to BE WRONG and I’m definitely rooting for you to be right…

    The only crappy part is we getting the Niners pick, the Bills pick would have been awesome because it would probably be,early in each round…

    If we end up getting a 3rd for Bryce, no one should ever be allowed to talk crap about Howie again lol
    Hopefully a 4-3 team in the AFC suffers some bad injury luck at DE, and Howie is able to take advantage of a contenders desperation for an edge rush, getting an extra 5th or 6th for BG, while creating room on the roster for Travis long…
    The way Howie/Chip/gamble have been drafting makes me skip around on cloud 9 after the last two drafts… If we can go into next years draft with some crazy like an extra 3rd and an extra 5th, it would be huge for one of the last drafts were Chip knows so many of the prospects since they were in highschool,

  14. 14 D3FB said at 11:42 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    I would actually prefer the fourth rounder next year. You can probably flip it for a 2016 3rd that would be higher than the 2016 we would get as part of the deal plus a 5 or 6th round pick. Here the the trade conditions:


  15. 15 Media Mike said at 6:25 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    The Bills have no chance because their QB is horrific.

  16. 16 GEAGLE said at 5:06 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    trotter made some really interesting comments today.
    Trotter thinks the world of Nick FOles and said Luck was the only young QB he puts aged of FOles…as one of the original founding members of “Team FOles” reason I even care what Trotter says about saint Nicky is because he was literally one of the first media members with a voice to believe in FOles..he always sites the play from FOles rookie year, as the moment he realize nIck was legit(and it’s the same play for me)…”mess of a Oline in front of him, under crazy pressure, FOles throws the ball before Avant starts to break and the ball blasts him in his ear hole”…. Who remembers that play? I have seen so many more exciting and important plays made in my life by Philadelphia eagles, but I think I will clearly remember that incomplete pass for the rest of my life” as the birth of the RAINMAKER, the walking Demi God who will delver us our first parade…

    Trotter made some interesting comments about Desean.. He wouldn’t reveal anything, but he knew of a lot of Deseans behind the scenes crap..I was curious because he was one of the eagles who backed Terrell Owens during that Divas messy divorce from the Bird gang, but he was asked point blank, without revealing anything knowing what he knows, does he think the eagles should have cut Desean? And he said absolutely… Tho he did say he thinks the change will be good for both Desean and the eagles. He said it wasn’t something Crazy, but it was the accumulation of a lot of infractions, and he did say that he is surprised that none of it has come out yet, so it isn’t stuff we have already been speculating about…

    But I found it interesting coming from someone that hasn’t always blindly supported the eagles, who actually took the side of a Diva WR TO against the Eagles, that he thought cutting Desean was the right decision

  17. 17 GENETiC-FREAK said at 6:22 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Rainmaker, Walking Demi God lol Lets hope hes the real deal now n for the future

  18. 18 GEAGLE said at 7:03 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Hope isn’t required… Kids the truth…kick your feet up and enjoy the ride

  19. 19 eagleyankfan said at 7:32 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    Hope — as a certain poster would say — is for women n children …

  20. 20 GEAGLE said at 10:36 PM on July 25th, 2014:

    You left out “flooder of the black hole”, “King of the andals and the first man, biggest cock in the city….”the biggest Boss since Bruce Springstien”…

  21. 21 76mustang said at 5:44 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Tommy, I didn’t know there was a Funyuns flavored pudding? Ha!

    As for STs, without looking at the numbers, I would rank the units by the following need for improvement:

    1. Kickoff coverage
    2. Kickoff return
    3. Punt return
    4. Punt coverage
    5. FG attempt
    6. FG defend
    7. XP attempt
    8. XP defend

    I hope Chris Polk’s shoulder is completely healed and we can see him 100% for training camp. I seem to remember Chip bringing up his name quite often late in the season as a player sticking out in practices.

    Anxious to see the number of touches Sproles gets on running plays in camp – he could have a huge YPC on limited touches during the season if he gets in sync with our O-Line.

    I realize this is the NFL, but Chip is a run game Yoda, and I would expect him to adjust/adapt well should Shady ever go down (perish the thought!). As for resting Shady, Chip claims that Deuce controls the rotations in the backfield – I’m sure it’s all been broken down and analyzed and benchmarked for the upcoming season, and that the targets will be adjusted through TC and as the season progresses.

    This season will be epic!

  22. 22 Media Mike said at 6:27 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    0. Kicker

    That positing flat out isn’t good enough and need to be ranked ahead of every unit.

  23. 23 eagleyankfan said at 7:56 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    eh….my problem is every year we hear how great these units(especially KO) are going to be and just about every year they s*ck. I don’t care who we signed at this point to be honest. Maybe it’s the coaches fault? People assume he’s a great coach just like April(sp?) was. Who knows.

  24. 24 GEAGLE said at 7:08 PM on July 24th, 2014:

    Lol who’s going to fill me in on Maclin gate?

    I heard he got into a pissing match with the BGN hack who wrote that anti Maclin article that we were all talking about the other day… I didn’t see Maclins comments or the BGN hacks response…but I can only imagine

  25. 25 eagleyankfan said at 7:44 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    Man someone was chatty last night. 4 pack of Red Bull? Monster Energy? So far, my favorite part about the media was a mook saying Chip has to slow down the offense in order to better serve his defense. I’ll be DR. Obvious here and say — if the Eagles D got off the field on more 3 and outs, that would better serve them. So let’s compare — Change an entire offense scheme(that you’ve been building since last year) or improve the D? Hmmm, tough choice. Changing ones entire philosophy is tempting. Ok, I’ll go with improving the D. I still think Nate Allen is the weakest link. Jenkins – big upgrade. After him….uh, hope he doesn’t get hurt. I still think the rook(ok, got hurt last year) will over take Nate. I puked after seeing those picks of Nate playing 10 yards behind a play.

  26. 26 GEAGLE said at 10:35 PM on July 25th, 2014:

    Waiting in airport…thanks for helping me pass time

  27. 27 levdog said at 10:07 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    I turned off Philly sports radio stations many years back, clueless hosts and clueless callers leads to a total waste of time. Misanelli is a great example of that mediocrity.

  28. 28 ICDogg said at 1:45 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    Trash Can apparently has competition this year.


  29. 29 Insomniac said at 4:15 AM on July 25th, 2014:


    I wish our WRs can do this. Watkins is going to be fun to watch..when he’ll sign with us in a few years.

  30. 30 Anders said at 7:29 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    As I said on twitter, it would be more impressive if he didnt slip. Had that been a game, great chance its an int

  31. 31 Media Mike said at 6:22 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    This says it all and says it all well about Brown:

    “Brown tried to run outside a lot, with poor results.”

    Thank you Tommy for pointing out the main problem with Brown and than you Buffalo for sucking.

  32. 32 The Linc – Eagles training camp 2014 begins TODAY! : best deal builder said at 6:22 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    […] Let’s Talk About RBs – Iggles BlitzWe also have to talk about the other players. You don’t move your backup RB (and not replace him) unless you are comfortable with some players already on the roster. Maybe this move was as much about Chris Polk as it was Brown. Polk only ran 11 times in 2013, but did show good potential. Kelly played him more and more as the season went along. Polk is a N-S runner with good strength and is an excellent fit for Kelly’s system. […]

  33. 33 Media Mike said at 6:24 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    Tommy seems to have missed a key ingredient of the special teams discussion; ALEX HENERY STILL SUCKS.

    I agree with the listing of improved cover guys, but how do we better cover kickoffs with Henery’s limp legged kicking style? Louis Skolnick isn’t available to design a new football for Henery’s use.

  34. 34 Chip Kelly Update: A Few Minor Incidents said at 7:32 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    […] Tommy Lawlor had a wise followup to my last FishDuck column on special teams problems, noting the upgrade in personnel and some of the finer points (beyond just tackling) that special teams involves. […]

  35. 35 CaliEaglesFan said at 7:44 AM on July 25th, 2014:

    When talking about Ed Reynolds a Stanford blogger said, “He also improved dramatically as a tackler in his second year as a starter. I think he might sneakily be one of the best special teamers for the Eagles this fall.”

    I think our coverage unit is gonna be better this year and Donnie is a good punter. If Alex can improve his kickoffs even just a bit this year we will be in good shape on special teams.