CAN we talk about our Running Back situation for a minute? I don’t know if you’ve taken a good look at it, but at the moment we have:
24 Ryan Mathews 6-0 / 220
30 Corey Clement 5-10 / 220
28 Wendell Smallwood 5-10 208
39 Byron Marshall 5-9 / 201
43 Darren Sproles 5-6 / 190
34 Donnel Pumphrey 5-8 / 176
That’s six RB’s, with a (supposed) cut looming for Mathews. That would leave us with five RB’s, which is what we went with last year (Mathews, Marshall, Sproles, Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner). The make-up of this group however, is what has me concerned.
I forecast a lot of passing on third and short, and in goal line situations with this group; because when Mathews leaves, we don’t have a guy who can win man vs man “in the phone booth”. Mathews breaks tackles, but we’ve seen that Smallwood, Sproles, and Marshall are susceptible to arm tackles. Pumphrey looks to also fall into that category. Unless Clement shows us he can be “that guy” at this level, we don’t have a RB who can move the pile (or even one LB) to win short yardage situations.
The fact is, if our division rivals had our RB situation (after cutting Mathews), we’d be laughing about it. Sproles is scary in bursts, but he’s by no means 250 carry per year RB. In fact, last year’s 94 carries was his career high. Yes, I said career. And you saw how it wore him down. Our RB’s are only scary to RB coach Duce Staley‘s sense of job security. Or perhaps an undrafted, free agent rookie (Clement) can shock the world and save us! Barring that, we have no credibility at the position. That means opponents get to key on shutting down our passing game, with little fear of our sporadic run game hurting them.
(TRIVIA: Can you name which 7-9 team was 11th in the NFL in rushing yards in 2016? It was us.)
We passed on grabbing a bell-cow RB (like Latavius Murray, or Eddie Lacy) in the first round of Free Agency. We passed on picking up a bell-cow in any of the first three rounds of this NFL Draft. At this point, I’m not hopeful that a decent RB will hit another team’s cutting room floor in the second round of Free Agency on June 1st . Odds are that we won’t get LeGarrette Blount (whom I really don’t want), or Christine Michael (whom I’d be willing to gamble on if he got in before OTA’s start Tuesday).
Hate to say this to you fellow fans, but the Eagles absolutely shit the bed on this one. Just a messy wet one that they slept through, and rolled around in for a few hours. The result will likely be more 3rd and short passes than you’d see from a good team. When opponents get wise to this, you’re going to see them jumping QB Carson Wentz‘s short passes more and more. I hope his touchdown number goes up from last year’s 16, because without a legit RB he will almost certainly throw more picks than he did last year (14).
This has me hoping that the Eagles reconsider and keep Mathews on the roster. (Yes, it’s come to that.) I’m not the biggest fan of Mathews, but lucky for us he’s not out the door yet. We can take another crack at replacing him in 2018, but for now we should just miss out on the cap savings we could have gotten from cutting him, and try to save our QB’s ass for at least 16 more games.