Philadelphia Eagles: At this point, why not sign C.J. Anderson?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

With their season barely hanging on by a thread, the Philadelphia Eagles should sign C.J. Anderson in a last-ditch attempt to fix their run-to-pass ratio.

Is the Philadelphia Eagles‘ season over? I guess it depends on who you ask.

On paper, the team is very much still in contention for the incredibly underperforming NFC East, but at the same time, if you’ve actually watched the team play a game this season, does that even matter?

With nary a fire to be found on the sidelines, and a pair of schemes, offensive, and defensive, that are about as conservative as a rural Georgia precinct, it’s abundantly clear the Eagles are a team in desperate need of a new identity.

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After effectively playing ‘the underdogs’ down the stretch last season, the team now has been woefully unprepared to take on the mantle of front-runners with a target on their back, and that challenge has effected a whole lot more than just the team’s confidence; it’s changed their very playing style.

In 2017, the Eagles were among the best rushing teams in all of football, trotting out a three-headed monster in LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Clement that averaged over 132 yards-per-game on almost 30 rushes (the third-best mark in the league). And now? The Eagles are down to 22nd overall, averaging less than 103 yards per game on less than 25 rushes a game.

Now admittedly, that looks pretty bad, but when you look at their passing attempts, it gets even worse.

Last season, the Eagles averaged only about 35 passes a game for a 5/6 run-to-pass ratio, but now, they throw the ball almost 40 times a game vs. only 25 rushes for a 5/8 run-to-pass ratio, an incredibly lopsided ratio to be sure.

So needless to say, if the Eagles are going to create some parody and sneak their way into the playoffs for another chance at a Super Bowl berth they need to settle on a lead rusher who can move the sticks.

Could C.J. Anderson be that guy?

Now granted, Anderson isn’t an elite player, not by any stretch of the imagination, but at times he has been a good player when used the right way.

The owner of a 4.4 yards per carry average for his career, Anderson’s averaged 753 yards and five touchdowns a season over his final four seasons in Denver, capping off his Broncos‘ career with a 1,000-yard season in 2017.

And since then? Nothing.

Well, technically not nothing, as Anderson has rushed the ball 24 times for 104 yards for the Carolina Panthers this season, but with Christian McCaffrey emerging as a legitimate dual-threat rusher capable of attacking defenses from all over the field, and Cam Newton‘s propensity for essentially being an RB2 in Ron Rivera‘s offense, he just didn’t have a role on the team moving forward, and was unceremoniously released from the team after a trade failed to materialize.

But just because that specific scenario didn’t work out that doesn’t mean Anderson can’t still be a productive player on the right team, he just needs to find a scheme that fits his downhill rushing style.

The Eagles scheme would fit him nicely.

While Anderson is far from a dynamic rusher like, say, LeSean McCoy, his game does share quite a few similarities with that of the Eagles former lead back Jay Ajayi. With a one-cut, brawler rushing style, and a lack of elite breakaway speed, Anderson is a solid option on first and second down, where his strength and stability could be an asset between the tackles.

But that’s not all Anderson can bring to the table.

According to Pro Football Focus, Anderson has been among the best pass and run blocking running back in football since he entered the Broncos’ rotation in 2014, pass blocking 282 times over the last five seasons with an average rating of 82.8.

This season, the Eagles best pass blocking back has been Corey Clement, but he’s only done so 12 times for an average rating of 76.2, hardly a reliable sample size. Wendell Smallwood, the team’s most frequent pass blocker is currently the owner of a less than ideal 40 percent PFF pas blocking grade, which is among the worst for a starter in the league.

Even if Anderson were to come in and only log 10 snaps a game, mostly a blocker, that’s a pretty noticeable upgrade for a team that drops back to pass 40 times a game.

So, could C.J. Anderson come in and fix the Eagles rushing assault like Jay Ajayi did one season prior? Probably not, but could he serve as the consistent short yardage back with sneaky value as a pass blocker? Yes, yes he could, and for a team like the Philadelphia Eagles that are in desperate need of something, anything, to turn their rushing game around, why not give Anderson a shot? It’s not like he can make them any worse.

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