Philadelphia Eagles: C.J. Anderson would look great in midnight green

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

After a surprising resurgence with the Los Angeles Rams, C.J. Anderson could add some additional Super Bowl pedigree to the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense.

A few months back, I wrote an article about why the Philadelphia Eagles should have taken a flyer on C.J. Anderson after being a surprise mid-season roster cut by the Carolina Panthers.

Turns out, I was right.

After initially taking his talents back to California to sign with the Oakland Raiders, a move that lasted less than a week, Anderson took his talents up the PCH and quietly found a home in Los Angeles, as an injury replacement for Todd Gurley.

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Anderson quite literally ran with the opportunity.

Over his four-game stint with Sean McVay‘s squad, Anderson rushed the ball 82 times for 466 yards, quadrupling his rushing total in Carolina in five fewer games.

Though he doesn’t possess the traditional dimensions of an NFL rusher, going so far as to (affectionately) call himself the ‘fat back‘, Anderson has reinserted himself into the conversation as one of the more intriguing rushers in the league who will be hitting the free agent market come March.

If Howie Roseman is smart, he’ll give Anderson an extended look.

As evident by the entirety of the 2018 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles are a team with a highly suspicious rushing attack; possessing only one running back who passes the 500-yard mark on the season (Josh Adams). Without a consistent lead rusher, the team was often forced to rely on a mismatched collection of pieces like Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and really whoever was healthy on any given week to try to at least approach a 50-50 run-to-pass ratio, often falling short by a considerable margin.

Doug Pederson loves to throw the ball, so when he has no rushing attack, things can get bad in a hurry.

A lot of this ineffectiveness has to do with Jay Ajayi‘s Week 4 torn ACL, as Philly was so confident that he could excel as a lead back that they allowed LeGarrette Blount to walk in free agency and join a Detroit Lions squad with very little chance of actually contending.

On paper, it would make sense to simply re-sign Ajayi and keep the ball rolling on his 2017-18 momentum, but his long, storied injury history will likely scare the Eagles away from a long, lucrative deal in fear of another disastrous setback.

Anderson has no such injury history, having only missed nine games over his six-year NFL career due to injury (a torn ACL in 2016, in a game where he recorded 107 yards on 16 carries).

Furthermore, while his dimensions may not suggest it, Anderson is also a pretty solid pass catcher, having hauled in 900 yards through the air and five touchdowns on only 108 catches, good for an 8.3 average. As fans of Andy Reid‘s coaching tree will happy attest, having a running back with solid hands is paramount to running a successful West Coast offense, and would add an element to the Eagles’ offense that has been sorely missing over Pederson’s tenure.

Sure, Anderson didn’t have the best showing in the Super Bowl, as he only rushed the ball seven times for 22 yards while surrendering a fumble to those dastardly Patriots, but really, did anyone play well in the Super Bowl? That was one of the least exciting games I’ve personally ever watched, and I’m an Eagles fan for goodness sake.

While the obvious choice for Anderson would be to simply re-sign with the Rams come March and continue to thrive in a scheme he’s comfortable in, there’s a problem with that proposal: Todd Gurley.

Much of Anderson’s biggest games have come as the Rams’ lead rusher, receiving the lion share of the offensive touches. When Gurley returns to full health for the 2019 season, will he be happy reverting to a role like he saw in the Super Bowl; a change of pace bowling ball between the tackles?

I kind of doubt it.

Based on his recent production, Anderson could easily secure a long-term, mid-level contract to become the top-billed star in a running backs rotation, similar to what Philly will almost certainly form around their current crew, a future draft pick, and whomever they pick up in free agency. For the low, low price of a 3-yard, $18 million deal ($12 guaranteed) the Eagles could secure a consistent, marquee rusher to pair with Carson Wentz in the offensive backfield for the foreseeable future on a team friendly deal.

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Though he’s far from a potential All-Pro like, say, Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley, if 2018 is of any indication, the Philadelphia Eagles should explore every avenue to procure a consistent lead back moving forward. While he may be a one-month wonder, after a very solid four-year tenure in Denver, C.J. Anderson is a high upside power back who could transform into Duce Staley‘s next great success story in a midnight green uniform.