|A Look At The Running Backs|
|22||3||2015||Can He Be The Bryce Of 2012?|
|25||6||2017||Nothing Left To Prove But Playoff Success|
|24||3||2014||Fighting For Carries|
|30||10||2016||What Role Does Chip Kelly Have In Mind?|
|22||2||2015||Preseason Player To Watch|
THE BIG QUESTIONS
1. What's Next For LeSean McCoy?
Four years into an already impressive young career, LeSean McCoy submitted one of the more impressive individual seasons in franchise history in 2013, rushing for a franchise-record and league-leading 1,607 yards. In the process, McCoy also led the league with 314 carries (putting forth an impressive 5.1 yards per carry), so there is likely to be a willingness on the team's part to at least partially limit the soon-to-be 26-year-old's carries in 2014.
As for McCoy's production itself, it's hard to imagine the All-Pro being much more impressive. Another year in the system behind an offensive line that should also take its own step forward should bode well for McCoy, but again, it's hard to imagine him doing more than he did in 2014.
The major question facing McCoy and the Eagles offense is just how exactly defenses will change their game plan against the Eagles with a full season's worth of tape and an offseason's worth of preparedness for Chip Kelly's second season. Will McCoy see even more defenders in the box devoted to stopping the run? How will the absence of DeSean Jackson change things? For a position that is well settled as among the top units on the team, there remain many unanswered questions.
2. Will Darren Sproles Bring An Added Dimension To The Offense?
Part of the expected release of pressure on McCoy comes in the addition of Sproles, the dynamic and diminutive running back who will turn 31 before the start of next season. That the Eagles parted with a fifth-round pick in what is said to be a very deep draft tells you that the team has a large role in mind for Sproles, who had no fewer than 71 receptions in each of his three seasons with the Saints.
In some ways, Sproles should replace some of the production left behind by Jason Avant in the slot as he remains perhaps the league's best receiver out of the backfield. Don't be surprised to see plenty of formations with both McCoy and Sproles on the field at the same time.
Meanwhile, Sproles should be expected to contribute as a returner on special teams as well – an area in which the team certainly has room for improvement.
3. Who Will Emerge From The Pack (And Will There Be A New Addition)?
At the moment, there are three running backs on the roster beyond McCoy and Sproles. Bryce Brown, soon-to-be 23, had a mildly disappointing 2014 season after an impressive rookie campaign. As a rookie seventh-round pick in 2012, Brown rushed for 564 yards on 4.9 yards per carry, including back-to-back games of over 150 yards rushing. In 2013, though, Brown rushed for only 314 yards on 4.2 yards per carry in the new offense. He faces an important offseason ahead
Chris Polk, 24, did not contribute at all as a running back in his rookie season, but he forced his way onto the roster in 2013 on the heels of a strong preseason. Polk scored three touchdowns in 2014, but only carried the ball 11 times. Once again, the relative ease on McCoy's workload is a factor and Polk could play a role. Finally, Mathew Tucker spent a few games on the active roster in his rookie season after going undrafted out of TCU. He too will have an opportunity to impress in the preseason.
But will those be all the competitors for playing time in the backfield? Though the Eagles do only have six draft picks at the moment, it wouldn't be a shock to see the team add some more youth to the position in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.