A Frustrated Murray Continues to Toe the Line
(973espn.com) - DeMarco Murray returned to the Eagles' lineup on Sunday and nearly tripled his 2015 rushing total on his first touch when he raced up the middle and bounced to the outside for a 30-yard gain.
It took nearly 15 minutes for the NFL's reigning rushing king to get that chance, however, and he only carried the football seven more times the entire afternoon as the Eagles came up a little short against the Washington Redskins, 23-20.
The ex-Cowboy, who ran for 1,845 yards behind Dallas' powerful offensive line a season ago, now has a grand total of 47 yards on 29 carries in Chip Kelly's offense.
"Do I think I'm touching the ball (enough)? No, I'm not," a frustrated Murray admitted. "I don't think I am. It's how the plays are being called. I love this offense. I love playing with these guys. It's just how it is."
If that sounds like a contradiction, give yourself a gold star. Murray, like most of the Eagles, is miffed about the team's dismal offensive start but at the same time, he is a class act and he's not going to take shots at his teammates or the coaching staff.
"Of course (we are frustrated), you're 1-3," he said. "I'm sure you're pretty frustrated and pissed."
Murray knew when he arrived in Philadelphia that the plan was to scale back on his workload, something that in theory would help him extend his career after a mind-numbing 492 touches in Dallas a season ago.
"I knew what I was coming in here to do," Murray claimed. "I knew if I was going to be the guy, I knew that (Darren) Sproles and (Ryan) Mathews are two great backs, and in this offense, a lot of guys touch the ball, and that's how they make a lot of plays. It's about executing plays and us being better. At the end of the day, we've got to continue to get better, watch the film and learn from it."
Still it's hard to believe Murray would have believed he would be averaging less than 10 carries per game.
"It is what it is," he said. "We'll all watch the film and we'll get better. I gotta get better and everyone has to get better. When you lose a game like this in the division, you're 0-2 in the division, it sucks, but you've got a lot of season left."
At what point, however, does the execution narrative pedaled by Kelly become overwhelmed by a more daunting perception, perhaps a lack of talent, especially skill-position talent outside the numbers.
"We're getting plenty of opportunities," Murray claimed. "Like I said, no matter what plays are being called, it's up to us to execute the plays. We work hard. We work on the plays a lot. It's up to us to have 11 guys on the same page and get it done."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen