The Eagles’ loss to the Cowboys is a tough one to digest. And as much as some people want to crow “I told you so!” about Chip Kelly’s decision to release Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis, the problems with the running game are not nearly that simple. It wasn’t just the guards. Some of the most reliable blockers on the team — Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Brent Celek — had rough games, too.
Look at the first three running plays, the first three first downs.
The initial play was a zone run right, with Jeremy Mincey left unblocked on the backside. Jordan Matthews started in motion, then doubled back to block Mincey. Andrew Gardner didn’t get much push on the playside, so Murray cut back behind Matthews, who was unable to hold off Mincey (not surprisingly).
The second run, Murray had a good hole for a cutback to the left, opened up by Allen Barbre and Jason Peters (see photo above). Instead, he ran into a clot of linemen (red arrow) with predictable results.
On the third play, a sweep left, Dallas ran a stunt that the Eagles couldn’t handle. Celek whiffed on his man, who couldn’t quite reach Sproles at the point of handoff but still disrupted and delayed the run. Then Kelce — despite a desperate lunge — couldn’t get in front of LB Sean Lee, who took advantage of the delay to swoop in and tackle Sproles for the loss. Ryan Mathews was also pretty much useless on the play.
DeMarco Murray: hit 0.1 yards in the backfield on avg this season
Murray was 1st contacted 2.8 yards PAST the LOS on avg last season
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 21, 2015
The point is, even if the Eagles were awarded two Pro Bowl guards out of sympathy, the problems with this running game wouldn’t be solved. They go far deeper. Is Murray having trouble grasping the Eagles running scheme? Are Peters and Celek on the steep downside of their long, successful careers? Is the offensive line simply discouraged or unable to communicate? That’s what OL coach Stoutland, Shurmur and Chip need to figure out ASAP.