Ryan Mathews is Ready for Leading Role
Eagles running back Ryan Mathews is already used to playing a big role for the team. After all, Mathews finally jump-started the Eagles' rushing attack in the team's win over the Jets with 108 yards on 25 carries after getting just four carries the first two weeks.
Williams has run the ball only 28 times (9 per game). He maximized his opportunities in the game against the Jets with DeMarco Murray sidelined with a hamstring injury, leading some to speculate that he could be in line for more carries against the Redskins.
"I thought the guys that were running the football did a good job," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur admitted on Tuesday. "I thought [RB] Ryan [Mathews] did an excellent job."
(Listen to ESPN.com NFL insider KC Joyner discuss Ryan Mathews and more on the Eagles matchup vs. Washington)
But Sunday could be a different role for Fresno State product. With Murray most likely back out, who will see the bulk of the carries on the ground remains to be seen now that they are both are back playing at full strength.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was asked if there is something to be said for giving a guy consistent carries rather than rotating guys in and out of the game.
"I think our guys are in there and they don't need a lot of touches to get going," Shurmur said. "I thought Ryan ran the ball to start the game, and I think DeMarco can do the same, and then obviously every time Sprolesy touches the ball, he's got the ability to go the distance."
"So in our opinion, we don't have those types of guys where they have to get a lot of touches to get going. We feel like they can get a touch and make a play."
While Mathews performance was a surprise to some, he has been a terrific talent when he's been able to remain healthy. At 6-0, 220-pounds, the Eagles knew they were getting a big, strong athlete who could play and someone they were hoping to develop into a ball carrier down the road and maybe even use as a change-of-pace back this year for the Murray.
Instead of changing the pace, it was Mathews who finally set it.
He was much more effective than Murray has been, he entered the Jets game with only two fewer rushing yards on 14 fewer carries than Murray. He showed his talents right away against the Jets, breaking a 27-yard run on Philly's third play from scrimmage and showed his versatility when he scored his touchdown on a 23-yard wheel route in the second quarter.
Last week in New York, after Murray's hamstring giving him trouble, Mathews was called on to take over the bulk of the load and looked just like a guy who didn't want to average just the two carries per game he got in the first two weeks of the season.
But Sunday will be a new challenge. Both Murray and Mathews will be up against a Redskins defense that has held each of their first three opponents to fewer than 85 rushing yards. This week, the Redskins will try to hold an opponent to 85 or fewer rushing yards for a fourth consecutive game in a single season for the first time since Weeks 12-16 of the 1989 season.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly says he doesn’t have any particular number for Mathews’ amount of carries in mind, and will just let the game play out and see where it goes.
“I have no idea," said the Eagles head coach. "That's not a concern for any of us, so we don't really think about it. I could have two guys go down on Saturday. He may be one of them going down, so he won't get any carries.”
Let's just hope that he doesn't get hurt and that Kelly starts to even the carries up more than he did the first two weeks of the season.