We’ve had four exceptional players referenced so far in our top 10 most critical players going into next season so far, but now we’re going to bring in one who only recently joined the Eagles.
DeMarco Murray. Yep, the former Dallas Cowboy signed a five-year $42 million contract in March according to ESPN, but why is last year’s Offensive Player Of The year so vital to the birds?
Well there’s the rivalry factor to start with. Not only did Chip Kelly strengthen his up tempo offense by adding one of the best rushers in the game, he also weakened arguably the toughest team besides the Birds in the NFC East. It’s a double victory for the Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys can only blame themselves.
The two-time Pro Bowler led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards on 392 carries last year makes his best moves in confined spaces. Unlike McCoy, he’s less flashy and much more of a North and South running back. His ability to cut smoothly without wasting too much time is unprecedented. His biggest difference to McCoy is the way he runs the ball. Both are lethal in possession and both are rapid. But comparing the statistics between the two is simply not fair. It’s like trying to compare pizza’s and Ice Cream. Both are glorious, but are different in every other way except their tag..food.
Even if his blistering 2014 stats are unsustainable, it’s evident that Murray is easily a top-five back in the NFL. He’s joining a high tempo offense that relies very much so on versatile and quick halfbacks of which he is both. Not only does the offense rely on them, but it thrives on them. The Chip Kelly orchestra is in perfect symphony when the likes of Darren Sproles break free, imagine what one of the most talented runners in the game can do.
Murray did great in a similar scheme with the Cowboys but may have been overused, the Eagles are well aware of this. With Sproles and Matthews in rotation, it will relieve some pressure over the NFL’s rushing leader of last season whilst still allowing him to still put up the big numbers but with less stress. One minute, the Sproles train is cutting left right and centre, the next minute, the powerhouse DeMarco Murray strides through the middle on an option play bringing an entirely different style of running that’s just as effective. It’s a defensive nightmare.
Murray combines speed, balance, frequent fluid cuts, and the strength to move piles. McCoy is good at what he does but Murray is a much better all rounded back and apparently much more of a Chip Kelly guy, following the dirty laundry aired by McCoy after his departure highlighting the disagreements the pair had.
Kelly now has two of the league’s premier north-south battering rams with Murray and Matthews in addition to a dangerous passing-down specialist with Sproles. With three versatile backs behind the O-Line, Kelly can take advantage of matchups who run dynamic rushing attack. The sort of scenario where Murray thrives.
Murray needs a big season. Kelly needs a big season. If these moves in free agency don’t pay off then the head coach will be villainated in Philly, something that’s hard to undo. If Murray can prove his doubters wrong and push another 1000 yard season, then this may be the best piece of business that Kelly has done as an Eagle. The two will go all or nothing this season.