Eagles Depth at Running Back Shining Through

Brown TDBryce Brown's touchdown against the Cowboys helped seal the Eagles NFC East championship but his contributions have gone far beyond that this season. 

Chip Kelly's offense, for all of it's zone-read plays and read option tendancies is really a scheme that's based around a power running game and steady dose of the ground attack. 

If further proof is needed to back up that statement, look no further than the fact that LeSean McCoy finished 2013 as the league's leading rusher and set both the single season franchise records for rushing yards and yards from scrimmage as well.

Beyond McCoy though, backups Bryce Brown and Chris Polk have quietly contributed some rather gaudy numbers of their own this season under Kelly.

The pair of second-year reserves combined to average 4.8 yards per carry and 12.1 yards per catch while playing in situations well beyond garbage/mop up time late in ballgames.

"Our running back situation is outstanding," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur told reporters Tuesday in the frigid confines of the Novacare Complex's outdoor media tent. "We obviously have a starter but when we put Bryce and Chris in there they've done a really good job.

"They run the ball and both catch the ball very well. They both certainly can pass protect."

In Sunday's season finale, Brown scored a critical touchdown and finished with two carries for 11 yards.

McCoy's success has been well documented, carrying the ball 314 times and notching 23 touches per game while making the most of those opportunities.

But there's something to be said for a scheme that requires so much of it's backs to have the kind of depth behind a runner like McCoy that can shoulder the load when called up and provide a spark for what is arguably the team's most important offensive weapon. 

“I think LeSean has had a lot of carries and he's got a lot of touches,” Kelly said Monday.

“But the ability to bring those two guys in to spell him when it's time, I think especially as a play-caller, it's really comforting to know that, ‘Oh, he's in, I can't call this,’ and I've been in situations like that; Well, who's in the game? All right, now what do we have to do, we have to kind of adjust our approach.’”

Just how often do the Eagles run the football?

In the shadows of the league's rushing title winner, Brown and Polk combined for 550 yards of total offense this season.

"We thought early on that these were guys that compete and contribute and they really have," Shurmur explained. "We just let it roll with them. We don't really mind who's in there, obviously LeSean gets the bulk of the work but other times it's their turn to go and they go." 

There's also much credit to be given to Brown who found himself at a crossroads of sorts this offseason after a rookie campaign where he fumbled four times and lost three of them.

In 2013, Brown didn't put the ball on the turf once all season.

Football in January in the northeast is all about survival in the elements and while the Saints have had a Jekyll and Hyde personality outside of the Super Dome, controlling the tempo of the game and possessions will be critical if the Eagles hope to send Sean Payton, Drew Brees and company packing for a long winter's slumber.

McCoy obviously figures key in that outcome, but so too could his more than capable understudies. 

Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.


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