Eagles RB1: Projecting the Messy Backfield for Week 2

Kenny Gainwell is the Eagles' RB1, but how will the depth chart shake out in Week 2? Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Kenny Gainwell is the Eagles' RB1, but how will the depth chart shake out in Week 2? Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Eagles surprised everyone with their running back usage in Week 1. After letting Miles Sanders walk and sending clear signals that they would use a true committee approach in the backfield, they pivoted from that entirely.

Kenny Gainwell played 62% of the offensive snaps, even beating out the 57% Miles Sanders had played in 2022.

The results weren’t great though, with Philly almost blowing their lead of the Patriots, and there’s lots of speculation around whether that was a long-term plan or a one-week blip.

Here’s what we’re projecting for the Eagles backfield against the Vikings for Week 2 Thursday Night Football.

Eagles RB Depth Chart

Update – Thursday Sep. 14, 11:20 a.m.: Kenny Gainwell has been ruled out since this story was first published. Look for D’Andre Swift to slot in for a big workload while Rashaad Penny gets to suit up for his first game as an Eagle. I’d expect Penny to see more work than Boston Scott on offense, though Scott will continue to handle his usual special teams workload. Below was our take on the situation before the Gainwell news.

The first question mark is Gainwell’s health. It’s hard to project him as anything other than the RB1 if he’s able to play, but he’s missed back-to-back practices with a rib issue. Given he handled his workload with no issues on Sunday I suspect this is just the team being cautious on a short week, but his health is certainly something to watch out for.

Long-term I don’t expect him to keep dominating the backfield work like he did against the Pats, healthy or not. He out-touched D’Andre Swift 20 to 2, and that gap is absolutely going to shrink as we move forward. We may well still see an RB1-RB2 distinction, but it won’t include a bell-cow like it did on Sunday.

But don’t necessarily expect that shift to start right away. Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson was clearly having some growing pains in Week 1, and trying to make a big change on a short week would only make it worse. If what he’s been installing is a system that leans on Gainwell heavily, a short week is not the time to make a sudden pivot when the offense doesn’t even have the rest of the system down pat yet.

I’m a big D’Andre Swift guy, and I think he should be the lead back in this offense. But he doesn’t play with the same style as Gainwell, and I don’t want to see Johnson mess with things too much this week., Make the change for Week 3 when the offense has some time to adapt.

Behind those two, the question is around who will be RB3 and who will be inactive — I don’t see the Eagles carrying four RBs on the gameday roster very often (if ever). And for the time being the clear answer is that Boston Scott will be active.

Rashaad Penny has received some looks as a kick returner, but Scott resumed his usual large special teams role (played 52% of the Eagles’ special teams snaps), and it doesn’t look like Penny is threatening to take over any time soon.

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