Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp Observations

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3. Opposing Defenses are going to Hate DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews

Aug 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs through obstacles during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it was the duo playing it up for the fans a bit but it seemed as if, towards the end of almost all of their runs, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews would seek out some contact with an Eagles defender. Chip Kelly’s camps don’t include tackling to the ground, so some of the affected individuals seemed a bit frustrated by the pair of 200+-pound carriers delivering a stinging blow. The pair of free agent acquisitions look to be anxious for the opportunity to administer that, and then some, to players who they won’t have to face in the locker room afterward. 

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There isn’t any more that needs to be said about LeSean McCoy’s relationship with Chip Kelly or what Kelly thought of him as a runner. It doesn’t take any level of scouting experience to realize that the Eagles head coach identified what type of back he was looking for going forward and found two of the best in the game, when healthy. Each player possesses the rare sort of size/speed/quickness combination that often are featured in some of the league’s best rushing attacks. There is something to be said for Kelly coveting not one, but two of these style runners in his type of offense.

Going back to the frustration of some of the Eagles defenders when coming in contact with Mathews and Murray, a physical runner may hold more value in a high-tempo offense than one might initially think. If Kelly is able to roll a pair like Murray and Mathews at defenses at his breakneck pace, the wear and tear on the opposing defenses as a result of the persistent collisions with them will have a cumulative effect. Many argue that there is a point where weak-minded defensive units will waive the white flag when it comes to having to continually tackle what is essentially a somewhat slimmed down linebacker with ball skills.

Should this be the case when the Eagles line up in regular season games, Kelly could conceivably keep an opposing defense that doesn’t want to tackle on the field late in games. His tempo and it’s ability to affect the opponent’s substitution patterns will prevent fresh reserves from taking the field for their broken down teammates. This type of approach can also be extremely valuable in postseason play, should the Eagles be so fortunate.

Both Mathews and Murray come with injury concerns and high expectations. It is impossible to predict whether either can make it through their first season with the Eagles, but Kelly’s reasoning in acquiring the two of them makes plenty of sense. The team’s approach to trying to preserve this possibility, especially with Murray, this preseason will garner praise if they can feature a backfield including the two in the late stages of the regular season and possibly beyond.