Murray Bristles at Reduced Role
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — If there is indeed a time and a place for everything, DeMarco Murray hasn't figured that out quite yet.
Murray reportedly voiced his frustration to team owner Jeffrey Lurie over his reduced rule in the Eagles' offense and he did it on the on the plane ride home following the team's biggest win of the season.
"I think what you’ve got to look at is we won a football game the other night against a really fine opponent (the New England Patriots) and (Murray) contributed in the game and I think that's the reality of it," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said when addressing the controversy Tuesday. "There should be some joy in that at least for a few hours until we get back to Philly from our flight from Providence."
(Listen to ESPN NFL reporter Sal Paolantonio discuss DeMarco Murray's comments)
There was no joy for Murray, however. According to ESPN.com, the running back not only bristled over the fact he saw the football less than Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner against New England on Sunday he also expressed confusion on how he fits into Chip Kelly's offensive philosophy, which needs runners with lateral movement skills, not the north-south abilities of a power back like Murray.
Ed Werder, who is very plugged in to the Cowboys where Murray was the NFL's rushing king in 2014, claimed that Murray and Lurie had a "a lengthy conversation" over his current role in which he played just 14 offensive snaps, touching it eight times for 24 yards.
"He's obviously upset about what happened," a source close to Murray told Werder.
Murray has struggled mightily this season in Kelly's offense, which calls for a lot of outside-zone running from an offset-shotgun look. After amassing over 1,800 yards in Dallas last year, Murray has just 569 yards on 163 carries this season, averaging just 3.5 yards per try.
For what it's worth, Kelly claimed Murray's limited role against New England was due to matchups, not the high-priced back's ineffectiveness.
"We have three running backs right now that we felt were productive," the coach claimed Monday. "We had a couple of game plans, there were some things we were trying to do with the big linebackers and with Darren and Kenjon, but (Murray) fits in. It was a strange game offensively from the aspect of we were not on the field in the third quarter and very rarely are you not on the field but yet you're up two scores. We had an interception return for a touchdown, and then we had a punt return for a touchdown.
"So that lack of snaps usually it's because of we are not being -- I've been there before, it's because we have not been productive offensively. It's just because our defense was scoring and our special teams was scoring. It's not like you're going to say, ‘We'll take it any time we can.’ But it was a different game from that standpoint, so we only had 50-some-odd snaps total. Hopefully we will get back up to where we normally are in the 70s, and I think that gets expanded a little bit, especially in the run game."
On Tuesday Werder went further claiming that Murray told Lurie his coach had broken promises that were made when the Eagles were trying to convince Murray to sign with them back in March.
Meanwhile, Murray correctly believes he isn't a fit for Kelly’s preferred offensive looks and not enough changes have been made to take advantage of his more traditional running style.
The former All-Pro also called it “strange” that he didn’t play all that much against the Patriots.
What’s really “strange” is that Murray hasn't figured out that all the answers to his problems lie in the mirror he looks in every morning.
Ineffective players on underachieving teams often get benched and Murray's reputation nor resume were built in Philadelphia so the loyalty from the coaching staff just isn't there.
Sproles, Barner and Ryan Mathews, who was back at practice Tuesday after finally passing concussion protocol, have all outperformed Murray this season and you can make a strong argument that Kelly gave his highest-paid back more rope that he deserved.
Organizations often make promises to get star free agents to sign on the dotted line. In the NFL, however, commitment is tied to performance and Murray will continue to learn that as the Eagles make their NFC East push with other options.
"You just play the guys and put the guys in the game that will help us win the football game," Shurmur said. "And like I said, we feel good about all the guys being in there."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen