Posts for demarco murray

DeMarco Murray, Another Fan Favorite, is Also Retiring

Kevin Kinkead - July 13, 2018

DeMarco Murray and Chase Utley, two Philadelphia sports legends retiring.

Well, we didn’t get official word from Utley yet, but Murray made his announcement a little while ago:

The 30-year-old running back was a three-time Pro Bowler who logged more than 7,000 yards on the ground over the course of seven NFL seasons. He was coming off a ridiculous 1,845 yard, 13 touchdown campaign in Dallas when he joined the Eagles as part of Chip Kelly’s 2015 overhaul.

Murray was a big disappointment in Philly, mostly because Chip insisted on running him sideways out of the shotgun instead of just letting him go north/south from under center. He finished with 702 yards and six scores that year and was shipped off to Tennessee when Chip was fired.

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Eagles – Skins: 4 Bitter Lessons

Mark Saltveit - December 27, 2015

Well, that sucked. The Eagles not only lost to Washington, but ended any hope of making the playoffs even in the miserable NFC East. Yes, there’s a game left against the Giants next week. But it’s time to start looking at the bigger lessons of this season as well as this game.

1. Cutting DeSean was not the problem.

It’s amazing how many people keep repeating that the Eagles “miss DeSean” or “got nothing in return for him.” He’s simply not that good, and Washington is going to cut him after this year too, also getting “nothing in return for him.”

He’s an aging, one-dimensional receiver with a poor work ethic who’s only asset — speed — is the one that is most hurt by age. Unlike, say, Larry Fitzgerald, he’s not going to work on his game in the off-season to develop new skills that offset his natural slowing.

His heart is not really into it, which is why he skips non-mandatory workouts and spends his time on partying, music and his reality TV show. There is no better example than the pass he caught at Philadelphia’s 43-yard line with 4:35 left in the first quarter. DJax caught the ball in the middle of the field with room to run, but as Malcolm Jenkins closed he ran backwards three yards, then literally cowered as he gave himself up before the safety could tackle him.

DeMarco Murray was rightly slaughtered for sliding on a run to avoid getting hit, but if you criticized that, you have to do the same for Jackson — whose team was trailing in a game to clinch the division title at the time. At least Murray didn’t run backwards to avoid pain.

Jackson had a career year under Chip Kelly in 2013 — the only year he’s played all 16 games since his rookie year in 2008. But his production has been dropping since, from 1,332 yards to 1,169 last year. With his (somewhat vague) injuries this year, he’ll be lucky to top 500 yards, and he hasn’t returned punts well since 2011.

Fans like to say he opens up the run game as a deep threat, and his absence has been killing the Eagles run game. But Washington is 18th in the NFL in rushing this year, even with RB Alfred Morris and a much-improved offensive line. For all its problems with DeMarco Murray and the OL this year, the Eagles were much better running, 11th overall with 1,623 yards to the Skins’ 1,420. After signing DeSean, the Skins’ rushing yardage dropped a ton, from 2,164 yards in 2013 to 1,691 last year and 1,420 in 15 games this year. So, no. DeSean doesn’t help the running game. Continue Reading

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Eagles – Cardinals: 4 Developments

Mark Saltveit - December 21, 2015

The Eagles made this game more interesting than you might have expected, well into the third quarter, even as defensive backs dropped like flies. Then they started turning the ball over and giving up big runs, and the Cardinals blew them out.

Which is exactly what you would expect with an 11-2 team playing a 6-7 team. This would have been an upset comparable to the Patriots game if the Birds had pulled off the victory. Keeping it close for a while mostly just made it more painful when the predictable collapse arrived.

So what did we learn, good and bad? Here are some new developments from tonight’s game.

1. DeMarco Murray dropped off the two-deep roster.

Though he was no longer the most-used back last week against the Bills, DeMarco still had the second most carries in that game and appeared to be part of a balanced three-way rotation.

Last night, that all went away. Murray didn’t get a carry until the second half and was an afterthought at best. So, when he finally did get the ball, did he come in all angry and fresh and rip off big runs? Nope. He ran twice for a grand total of three yards.

I don’t know if he mouthed off to the coaches, or they just finally admitted that he sucks and feeding him more snaps isn’t going to fix it.

Unfortunately, Ryan Mathews didn’t exactly seize the opportunity to cement himself as the number one back. He piled up 58 yards on 11 carries, including a 20 yard gain, but also fumbled away a drive, and miscommunicated with Sam Bradford on a short pass, leading to a pick six. And he failed to get the first down on a fourth-and-one at the Arizona 8, though the play call and blocking had a lot to do with that. Continue Reading

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DeMarco needs some of Shady’s anger

Mark Saltveit - December 13, 2015

LeSean McCoy is pissed. He’s hanging up when Chip Kelly calls, won’t shake his hand, and photoshopped him out of all the selfies they took together.

The media love it and will explode in ecstasy if Shady runs for 279 yards today, because anger and revenge is everybody’s favorite sports narrative.

But anger cuts both ways. It fuels your effort, but clouds your judgment. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Then your lizard brain takes over and you forget your careful planning, flailing wildly.

One of Chip’s mantras is “Play with emotion, don’t let emotion play with you.” Overemotional players start fights, get penalties, and try to do too much on their own.

The Eagles will try to take advantage of Shady’s ego and pissiness with a combination of trash talk, game planning and inside knowledge of his moves. He might go off on them, but just as likely he’ll break a couple of big runs early, then leave the game injured in the third period after racking up 70-80 yards.

On the other hand, DeMarco Murray could use a bunch of McCoy’s anger. The latest reports say he went to Jeff Lurie last week because he thought Chip and Duce Staley were unapproachable.

Duce? You done lost everybody right there, young man. Chip, sure. He is kind of intimidating in person, a half-Belichick almost with his hard-case New England ball-busting. But your former-player position coach? No wonder DeMarco’s not hitting holes hard if he’s afraid of his own coaches.

Murray’s big free agent contract apparently turned him into a winsome high-school art student, resenting the alpha jocks and mooning over Morrissey songs.

Is he mad that he’s been demoted to fourth-string running back on the Eagles? Good. He should be furious and humiliated and raging to prove his manhood by pounding the Bills’ DL. You show ’em champ.

Because the only thing worse than playing with too much emotion is not having any at all.

Eagles – Lions: 5 Counterpunches

Mark Saltveit - November 26, 2015

The Eagles surprised everyone by being even worse than last week. It didn’t seem possible.

On the team’s own website, Chris McPherson apologized to fans for the game, Ike Reese called out [some of] the players for not doing everything they could to win, and Greg Cosell identified Malcolm Jenkins as the guy who missed key tackles allowing Ameer Addullah’s 23-yard run today as well as Doug Martin’s 84-yard run last week.

That was the team’s own announcers. And everyone else was more negative, as they should have been.

You know how bad they played, and you probably watched at least part of the game, or you wouldn’t be reading this. So there’s no point rehashing that part of the story. Here are five other points worth considering. Not everyone played terribly or gave up. And since this team is sure to get blown up this off-season, perhaps including the coaches, it’s important to note where the problems were.

1. Real injuries hurt this team.

It wasn’t only lack of effort. The offense was moving well until Jason Peters left the game, after a lineman rolled up on his leg. Then the drive moved backwards and Caleb Sturgis sproinked a field goal off the post. Jason Kelce had entered the game hobbled by a bad knee, and the offense couldn’t weather these two weak spots at key positions in their ultrathin offensive line.

Sanchez was under severe pressure the rest of the game, taking six sacks and nine hits while the run game evaporated. This team’s problems this year started with Chip Kelly not investing enough in the offensive line, and that failure (more than scheme or play calling) has been the root of this team’s troubles.

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6 Gritty Keys To The Eagles’ Win

Mark Saltveit - November 9, 2015

This was an ugly win, but against the Cowboys, even the ugliness feels good.

Dallas needed a 79-yard kick return, two horrible defensive pass interference calls on Byron Maxwell at the end of regulation, a field goal that banked in off the post, and an insanely lucky TD pass from Matt Cassel to Dez Bryant to even stay close.

Cassel narrowly evaded a sack, then basically shut his eyes and threw a Hail Mary to the end zone with 11 minutes left in the game. The fact that Dez Bryant grabbed it before any of the nearby Eagles, and scored a lucky/brilliant touchdown, doesn’t change the fact that it was a terrible throw.

That pass was so crazy that it made #4 on SportsCenter’s wacky play highlight reel.

The Eagles, on the other hand, didn’t do anything fancy. They just kept plugging away until they wore Dallas down. Several Cowboys went down with injuries, a marker of the hard-fought game, and only one (to Byron Jones, who returned after missing one play) was probably faked to help them catch their breath.

Here are my six favorite bits of grit from this win:


1. Pounding DeMarco Murray right back at Dallas

DeMarco Murray was not brilliant, flashy or fast. He was relentless, pummeling away until the Cowboys were gassed and, in several cases, injured. Ryan Mathews again earned more yards per carry, and Murray was still slow going around the corner, but he is the guy you want on fourth and goal at the one. (He scored in exactly that situation tonight.)

Dallas continues to talk a big game about not missing Murray, despite losing Lance Dunbar to injury and waiving underwear thief Joseph Randle. But it was psychologically wounding to pound them with their former star, and by the end of the game he was getting around the corner on his exhausted former teammates.

The Birds also flaunted Miles Austin, who is chewing up more of Dallas’ salary cap this year ($5.1 million) than Philadelphia’s ($2.25M). He caught a 27-yard pass and drew a defensive holding call for another first down.

The turnaround in the running game this year is phenomenal, and not talked about enough. Carolina leads the NFL with 144.0 rushing yards per game so far this year. In games one through four, the Eagles managed only 70. Since then, they’ve averaged a dominant 173.25 per game.

While the offensive line is much better, the biggest improvement has come from Murray himself. He averaged a mere 12 yards in the first four games, missing one entirely due to injury. In games five through eight, he has piled up more than 85 per tiff — and the Eagles have won three of those four contests.

Tonight, the three backs totaled racked up 172 yards. Murray added 78 receiving yards to his 83 on the ground.

A lot of people think Chip’s Oregon offense was pass-based, and that’s just wrong. It was always pounding run after run at tempo, with an occasional pass to break it open and keep the defense honest. In fact, a lot of the “passes” in the system, like the bubble screens and swing passes, are really more like runs than passes. The ball getting to the receiver/runner should be automatic, and the result depends on the defense’s ability to tackle in space. Continue Reading

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The Many Wide Open Receivers Sam Bradford Didn’t See

Mark Saltveit - October 28, 2015

In Sunday’s frustrating loss to Carolina, Sam Bradford actually played much better than earlier in the season, and he was hurt by a bad rash of receiver drops. You’ve heard that several times already, and it’s true.

On most of the check downs he was criticized for, Carolina just did a great job of covering and Bradford made the right call. Other plays were designed swing passes.

But a close look at the coaches tape shows that he also missed several open receivers who would have made much better targets.

Start with the interception, which Jordan Matthews definitely should have caught — even though it was one of the few times Bradford threw behind his receiver in this game (after doing that far too often earlier in the season). Three receivers were open on the play for short passes at the 25, and Matthews was much less open than Josh Huff or Miles Austin out wide (circled in blue):

Bradford's read on Matthews int

On the next drive, Bradford took a coverage sack on 2nd and 9, and — as on many plays — Carolina’s secondary covered all of the receiving options very well. Here though, Bradford missed a great opportunity to run on the right side of the line. Every potential tackler within 20 yards had a blocker. Instead, Kawaan Short smothered him for a 7-yard loss: Continue Reading

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Everyone is Wrong About How Chip Kelly “Needs” To Use DeMarco Murray

Mark Saltveit - October 21, 2015

One of the most prevalent narratives about this Eagles team is that Chip Kelly wants runners who go north/south (end zone to end zone), not east/west (sideline to sideline). That’s why he traded Shady and picked up DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, as he said himself. So why hasn’t Murray been doing well?

On Monday Night Football, Jon Gruden blamed it on Murray running east/west, by which he meant that the Eagles were running to the outside, with sweeps and outside zone plays. That’s a misunderstanding of what Chip means by north/south, which is hitting the hole and running through contact, instead of dancing sideways to avoid defenders.

Chip didn’t mean that it’s bad to for the running back to execute the called outside run, or that he himself shouldn’t be calling them — they’re a very big part of his offense. Chip loves misdirection, and outside runs are critical to get the defense flowing one way so you can run a counter the other way, whether it’s a bootleg, a bubble screen to the other side, or a slot screen like the one that Josh Huff gained 15 yards on in the first quarter.

(That clip in that link is from Fran Duffy’s excellent breakdown of Chip’s latest tweaks to the running game.)

counter screen to Huff vs Giants 10-18-2015

Gruden’s comments made no sense [Editor’s note: I think his comments about running from the shotgun did, however. Generally speaking, at least.] LeSean McCoy jitterbugged sideways even on inside zone runs up the middle last year. Sometimes he evaded defenders and picked up a big gain, but often he was tackled for a loss as a result. On the other hand, one of DeMarco Murray’s staple plays for the Cowboys last year was the outside zone stretch play, where he ran horizontal to the line of scrimmage until a hole opened up, then cut back.

But once he found a hole, he pounded it decisively, breaking arm tackles and picking up a lot of yards after contact. ProFootballFocus tabulates yards after contact (YCo), which is a good measure of N/S running. Murray led the NFL in runs with three or more yards after contact (137), and Ryan Mathews was even better on a percentage basis (35%, ahead of Le’Veon Bell). Shady, on the other hand, was one of the worst in the league.

There have been a lot of reasons for Murray’s disappointing results so far. The offensive line has been bad, obviously, and Chip’s play calling was getting predictable (they always ran to the opposite side of where the RB lines up) until the last two games. Murray’s hamstring injury was probably a factor too, as he looked distinctly slow compared to Mathews and Sproles, who ran much better with the same line and play calls.

But several of Murray’s big runs against the Giants went around the end. Here’s a clip of his touchdown. Does it look like running toward the sideline is DeMarco’s problem?

Murray TD vs Giants 20-18-2015