Inside the Numbers: Corey Clement’s Hat Trick
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Hat tricks usually take place across the street in South Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center but Glassboro native Corey Clement brought a little of the Broad-Street-Bully mentality across 11th Street and into Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
The undrafted rookie running back scored three touchdowns in the Eagles 51-23 blowout win over the Denver Broncos, two on the ground and one through the air.
It was almost like Clement was back at the University of Wisconsin leading the Badgers running game during a college career that produced two different hat tricks.
What made Clement's first three-score game in the pros so strange is that he did it in a committee environment where he shared the laid with LeGarrette Blount and the recently acquired Jay Ajayi, first rumbling in from 15 yards out on a middle screen from Carson Wentz and following that with TD runs of two and four yards, the former of which being an option play that would have made Georgia Tech green with envy.
"I was just playing football," Clement said afterward. "Today was a great day on both sides of the ball. At the same time, we are going to go back and correct what we messed up today. It is the nature that we have with this football team. We always want to be perfect, but it is not always ideal. So we are going to go back and see if we can get better. This team did a great job today, but at the same time, we are going to keep going.”
That kind of unselfishness has been a characteristic of the RB rotation throughout the season and continued against Denver despite the presence of Ajayi, the former bell cow in Miami.
All five of the Eagles RBs dressed against the Broncos and saw action in the game. Kenjon Barner actually started but only played two offensive snaps while Wendell Smallwood got six reps but all of them came in garbage time. So the real committee was Clement, Blount and Ajayi and the rookie got the most time, 28 snaps compared to 16 for Blount and 17 for Ajayi.
And 17 of Clement's snaps came in the first half so he wasn't getting the extra work because of the score. Ajayi has 10 reps in the first 30 minutes and Blount was at seven.
“He’s grown a bunch,” quarterback Carson Wentz said when discussing Clement. “I’ve seen Corey all through training camp. He was just a guy that wanted to work, wanted to learn. He’s always ready whenever his number is called and it was today and he made the most of it. He’s a heckuva back, a heckuva teammate, and a heckuva player as well.”
Against the Broncos four backs touched it with Ajayi and Clement leading the way. Overall the Eagles ran for 197 yards against the second-ranked run defense in the NFL.
"We take a lot of pride in putting a lot of yardage on a great defense," Clement said.
Clement, meanwhile, now has five TDs on the season, one behind team leader Zach Ertz, despite only touching the football 51 times.
"You know what, I'm not," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said when asked if he was surprised about Clement's success. "When we had him all the way back into rookie camp, you started seeing sort of flashes and signs of what he is and was capable of doing then and now. ...He's a smart guy. He's really picking up the offense extremely well. He runs hard and he's aggressive. He can't do it without the offensive line. But yeah, he's one that [is a] very, very special running back right now."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen