Philadelphia Eagles: How Should Carries Be Distributed Among Running Backs?

By Sonny Bryan
LeSean McCoy
Derick E. Hingle – USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the Philadelphia Eagles look like they have one of the best running back groups in the league. With guys like LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Felix Jones and Chris Polk, they’re going to have to find a way to distribute the carries among these players. We all know that Chip Kelly loves to pound the rock, which is why I can see most of these guys getting a good amount of carries this season.

Obviously, we know that McCoy will be the starter, and he should thrive under Kelly’s system. In 2011, McCoy touched the ball 321 times (273 carries and 48 catches) which is about the right number of touches you want McCoy to have. The Eagles know that they need McCoy to have the football in his hands very often, however you can’t overload him with carries and expose him to injuries. McCoy will not make it through a full season if he is carrying to ball 325-plus times a season. There are young players behind McCoy who can help him out and make sure he is fresh for the next series.

The Eagles were able to find a gem in the 2012 NFL Draft, selecting seventh-round rookie in Brown last season, when no one gave him a shot to make the initial 53-man roster. Brown was able to run for 564 yards on 115 carries and scored four touchdowns. His biggest game came when the Eagles played the Carolina Panthers in Week 11, where he rushed for 178 yard on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns, not to mention that mostly back-ups and rookies played on the offensive line during that time in the season. Brown is a solid back with a great combination of speed, strength and vision. He is an extremely talented running back who can help McCoy out tremendously. However, he is not the only one who can help out McCoy.

Jones is an interesting signing by the Eagles. He is a guy who showed he had a lot of talent when playing for the Dallas Cowboys but unfortunately, was injured often. Jones can bring another dynamic weapon to the Eagles’ offense, but he will have to take carries away from Brown to get on the field, which won’t be easy. Another thing you should watch out for is Jones playing a role on special teams as a returner. He has a lot of experience at the NFL level being a returner, and he may beat out Brandon Boykin and Damaris Johnson for their spots.

Polk getting carries this season is going to be tough to see. He is a talented, young running back who has a good chance to make the team, assuming Kelly wants four running backs. He is a thumper who runs with power and aggressiveness, which can help out the team on short-yardage plays. However, there is just too much talent in front of him to make me believe he will get any amount of touches this season.

So, as you can see, the Eagles have loads of talent at the running back position. McCoy should be back to being a Pro-Bowl running back while Brown, Jones and Polk will provide solid depth for the Birds. I see McCoy getting around 250 carries this season, and we will most likely see Browns’ carries drop a bit if McCoy stays healthy. Look for Brown to get around 70 carries this season, as Jones should have less than 50, but Jones will also play a solid role in the passing game.

Sonny Bryan is a Philadelphia Eagles writer for Follow him on Twitter @SonnyBryan50

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