Darren Sproles delivered a huge impact for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014. Sproles contributed in the passing and running game on offense, while returning punts for the Eagles as well. Earning his first pro bowl in his career. In the first three games of the 2014 season, Sproles had 17 rush attempts for 117 yards, averaging almost 6.9 yards a carry.
On the receiving end, Sproles caught 14 passes for 196 yards, including a 152 yard performance on Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts. But through the later weeks of the season when the Eagles were in '"crunch time", The same question kept arising: "Why not include Darren Sproles in more plays?" It seemed like only positive results would occur every time Sproles would touch the football.
The Philadelphia Eagles could have increased their chances of making the playoffs in 2014 if they would have used Darren Sproles in more plays. How will The Eagles use Darren Sproles in 2015?
According to Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly, Darren Sproles is the Eagles' "Swiss Army Knife." "You can use him in a million different ways." So how can Chip Kelly properly utilize his "Swiss Army Knife" and include the versatile weapon on more plays? We all know Chip Kelly is devoted to the running game.
This is why he brought in new running backs Ryan Mathews (San Diego Chargers) and the NFL's reigning rushing king Demarco Murray (Dallas Cowboys). This almost automatically puts Darren Sproles third in the depth chart for running backs. But certainly does not mean Sproles will not be get playing time.
Chip Kelly plans on using Murray as his number one running back but does not plan to make him his work house. So Sproles could still be getting anywhere from 3 to 5 touches running the ball every game. Although the Eagles' backfield is very talented, it is also very crowded as well, and barring an injury to Murray or Mathews, Sproles getting more touches in the run game does not seem very likely.
Although it will be tough to get more touches in the run game, The Eagles' passing game should be open to Sproles more in 2015. The Eagles have a very bright and young receiving core consisting of Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Miles Austin, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, and rookie Nelson Agholor. Yet, none these receivers have really "proven" themselves just yet.
Jordan Matthews had a great rookie season, but was also highlighted with dropped passes as well. Riley Cooper seemed to drop off the planet until catching two touchdown passes in Week 16. Nelson Agholor has yet to play a single snap in the NFL, but has been getting rave reviews in OTA's. The point is that Sproles could line up in the slot or catch passes out of the backfield.
The Eagles have reportedly been getting Sproles reps at the slot position along with Josh Huff. Darren Sproles is a highlight reel when catching screen passes out of the backfield (See week two against The Colts). The Eagles may use a similar plan for Sproles just as what the Patriots uses for Shane Vereen. In New England's game against Seattle, Vereen caught 11 passes for 64 yards and picking up five first downs.
Expect a different approach to Sproles and consider him more as a receiver than a running back looking forward to the 2015 season. But still expect him to make an immediate impact every time this dangerous "Swiss Army Knife" touches the ball.