EAGLE CHIP: THERE IS A LOT OF VALIDITY TO CONCERNS ABOUT MURRAY

By Harry Allison

One of the most glaring unanswered questions in this Eagle training camp is:

When are we going to see DeMarco Murray strut his stuff?

Murray is coming off a season that saw him capture the league’s rushing title. But in order to rack up 1,845 yards on the ground, he accumulated 392 carries. That’s an alarmingly high number, especially when you take a look back at the history of NFL runners who hit 370 carries in a single season.

It’s a high enough number that Murray’s new head coach, Chip Kelly, is concerned. Kelly admitted to SI.com that there should be injury concerns with Murray after his heavy workload with the Cowboys in 2014.

“I think there is a lot of validity to it,” Kelly said. “But how do you manage him going into a season? Our plan all along was to get another running back with him. I wanted to have two running backs, and that’s why we got Ryan [Mathews]. I don’t think you can have a guy carry it 370 to 400 times per season and be successful. We’re going to run it a lot — we always do — but we’ll have more than one guy doing it.”

Kelly is right to be worried, especially after handing Murray $21 million guaranteed this offseason to replace LeSean McCoy in his high-flying offense.

According to Football Outsiders, “the average running back with 370 or more regular-season carries, or 390 including the postseason, will see their rushing yardage decline by 35 percent, and their yards per carry decline by eight percent.” For the sake of comparison,Football Outsiders noted that running backs with more than 300 carries but less than 370 carries only see their total rushing yards decrease by 15 percent and their yards per carry decrease by two percent the following year.

Football Outsiders calls this the “Curse of 370.

Luckily, as Kelly mentioned, the Eagles might not have to rely solely on Murray with Mathews also in the mix. Mathews, a former first-round pick by the Chargers, hasn’t lived up to the expectations that come with being a No. 12 overall pick, but he should fit in nicely as a compliment to Murray. The Eagles also have Darren Sproles on their roster.

And Kelly is already managing Murray’s workload, as Murray sat out the Eagles’ preseason opener, which led to this testy exchange between reporters and coach.

 

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