Eagles Notes – Offensive Line Helps Backs to Best Game
The Ryan Mathews vs DeMarco Murray debate won't be going away anytime soon.
Not completely, at least Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said Monday that he doesn't even know which back is in the game - that job falls in the lap of Duce Staley.
"I don't rotate the backs," Kelly explained. "So [RB coach] Duce [Staley] is just rolling those guys through there. So, it wasn't a set formation where he (Mathews) was in or whatever; it was just what was up at the time."
Ryan Mathews rushed eight times for 73 yards and a touchdown and caught 3-of-3 targets for 23 yards Week 5 against the Saints. He got the offense moving, gaining momentum in the second quarter kick-starting the offense with 40 yards on his first four touches. However, he gave way to DeMarco Murray the rest of the game.
"We think of both of those guys as the same player," Kelly stated. "So it doesn't affect what we're doing from a play call standpoint."
Murray didn't play poorly, rushing 20 times for 83 yards and a touchdown, adding seven catches for 37 yards in the game, but it still seems that Mathews is the more explosive, more productive back at this point.
Monday on the Sports Bash during Barrett's Breakdown with Super Bowl Champion Barrett Brooks, from 'Breakfast on Broad' on The Comcast Network, Brooks thinks Mathews is the better option.
"The fact that he had eight carries for 73 yards and Murray had 20 carries for only 83 yards, same offensive line out there - it's just that Mathews can get it up-and-down better than Murray can," Brooks explained.
"I think there is going to be a running back controversy, Mathews is a more explosive runner, when he hits the hole, he hits it with authority."
(Listen to Barrett's Breakdown on the Eagles running Back's and more on the win over the Saints)
Kelly confirmed what anyone who watched Sunday's game would have assumed, which is that it was the best that Philadelphia's embattled offensive line has played this season.
"I thought that was the key; we talked about being able to establish the run and then things can build off of that," Kelly admitted. "But I credit those guys up front, I think they had a good week of preparation and they did a really nice job today. We did the same things we've done in the other three games that we lost, it's just we executed. That's what I said last week, we weren't executing. This week, we executed. But we didn't change up what we were doing from a schematics standpoint."
The pass protection was nearly perfect as Sam Bradford wasn't sacked in the game, allowing him to complete 32 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. The line also paved the way for the Eagles running backs to average 5.5 yards per carry and a pair of rushing touchdowns. It was the balance the Eagles displayed on Sunday that helped them control the game and it all starts with the offensive lines play.
“Man, those guys were unbelievable today," Bradford smiled. "Not only in the pass game but in the run game. I thought our guys up front were phenomenal. I think I went to the ground maybe one time today. When those guys play like that, it makes my job a lot easier.”
"You know, when we run the ball better and we're balanced, then we have an opportunity to stay on the field, and that's what we did," Kelly added. "We ran the ball better, and then we converted on third downs so we could stay on the field."
Who's at fault on TD?
Kelly said that contrary to how it may have appeared, cornerback Nolan Carroll or linebacker Jordan Hicks were not totally at fault for the breakdowns in coverage that led to New Orleans passing touchdown, both appeared to be out of position, leaving tight end Ben Watson uncovered.
Kelly explained that there was a miscommunication and didn't identify a guilty party.
"Yeah, it was a miscommunication," Kelly explained. "We called a defense. We should have been down to the right, we were down to the left. If we make that call, then Jordan [Hicks] has to compensate for it. If we don't make that call-- it was the wrong call, so instead of the discussion about it being the wrong call, play the call because it's not a wrong call if we all line up the right way, and it was really just a miscommunication issue.
• Kelly didn't have an update on the muscle injury that knocked Nelson Agholor out of Sunday's game but did say the Eagles trainer said he was out in the second half, so he wasn't in the rotation.
• Kelly didn't give an update on Mychal Kendricks or Kiko Alonso, who has been out with a hamstring and knee injury respectfully, but said he likes what he has gotten from Jordan Hicks in their absence. "He's a three-down linebacker," Kelly said. "We thought he could come in here early and contribute on special teams, which he was doing, but he's playing a lot now on defense because of [LB Mychal] Kendricks and [LB] Kiko [Alonso] being out. But, he's kind of what he thought he was going to be coming in here, and we were excited about him."
• WR Josh Huff caught 4-of-5 targets for 78 yards and a touchdown Week 5 against the Saints, Kelly said Huff gives the Eagles something not many of the wideouts give this offense. "Josh, in general as a player, is an extremely dynamic player," Kelly said. "I think he's got the ability to change directions, stop and start. He's really good with the football in his hands."