Around the NFL  

 

DeMarco Murray plays 14 snaps in win over Patriots

Print

The Eagles won a big game on Sunday and did so largely without the help of star running back DeMarco Murray.

Per the GameBook, Murray played just 14 snaps in Philly's 35-28 win over the Patriots while Darren Sproles got 35 snaps, which meant he was on the field for more than half of the team's offensive plays. Kenjon Barner, Kelly's former pupil at Oregon, got 12 snaps, or almost as many as Murray.

When asked about it after the game, Kelly told reporters that it was due to the Patriots' significant size and strength at linebacker. Smaller and shiftier was the way to go.

"It's as big a group of linebackers as you're going to face," Kelly said, via The Philadelphia Inquirer. "And then we just kind of -- as the game expressed itself -- (went) with the hot hand. And we used all three. DeMarco had a big run on the inside zone on that 13-play drive."

Schematically, it makes sense. Plus, the Eagles were in a bit of a shootout all game long. Sproles and Barner lend themselves to non-blocking passing plays more than the 6-foot Murray (although Sproles is an excellent blocker).

But it's difficult not to wonder, as the Inquirer did on Sunday night, if this was Kelly also sending a message. He essentially replaced Miles Austin in the lineup with Jonathan Krause -- a second-year undrafted wide receiver who was recently bumped up from the practice squad.

"Every week is an evaluation. Every week is you get an opportunity to show us what you can do," Kelly said. "We brought Jonathan Krause in there for a reason. We thought he was a really good player. We brought him up for a reason, too. It wasn't just, 'Let's reward a guy.'"

Next Sunday against the Bills, Kelly will face another massive front and athletic group of second-level players. There's a chance Ryan Mathews, another player who was running better than Murray early in the season, comes back next week as well.

Then we will get to see if this is the new norm.

If it is, kudos to Kelly for almost doubling down on his initial belief in the scheme. He has endured a truckload of criticism for getting rid of excellent players, but if he has the fortitude to leave a $40 million player on the bench to kick start his offense, he'll earn every win that comes from it.

Print

Fan Discussion