How Darren Sproles still plays a vital role in Eagles Offense

When you ask somebody who the Eagles running back is going to be this season, their instant answer is DeMarco Murray. But when you ask about their number two, the answers become a lot more hesitant..but that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, the Eagles may have the best RB unit in the entire league.

Regardless of how many plays the trio split for this year it’s highly possible that the three Musketeers could become the most feared backs in the league this year. The Legion of Zoom is ready to fly. But just how is it all going to play out?

The big thing that people are overlooking is that Ryan Matthews is going to be a lot more active than the media are predicting for numerous reasons. One of those is due to just how many different scenarios that Darren Sproles is going to be used in.

The 5″6 back took 39 punt returns for the team last year, taking two to the house and averaging 13 yards per return, making him a threat from more than just one angle. He was almost unstoppable with a longest return of 82 yards and with the impact the special teams unit carried last year, expect them to be even more prolific this season. The problem was that the team almost relied on their Special Teams at times. But now the team has been bolstered, it could all be points galore..which brings us onto our next point.

Sproles has been lining up in the slot during training camp just as he did last year. Last year the former Saint’s star received for almost 400 yards..whilst small if you could have a lineup of Agholor, Sproles, Matthews and Huff with Matthews in the backfield..WHO THE HELL DO YOU FOCUS YOUR COVERAGE ON WITH SO MANY OPTIONS? It’s that kind of versatility that makes this unit so dangerous and that kind of versatility that almost secures Darren’s spot on the team. Whilst he’s naturally a running back, Sproles has a skillset that can be utilised in various different positions, ensuring that whilst he may not get close to the reps of Murray or Matthews..he will still be picking up hundreds of yards.

With the 9 year veteran constantly returning punts and the occasional kick, it will give Matthews a bigger window of opportunity once the Offense gets back on the field. The Eagles have three running backs constantly in rotation, it’s naturally going to confuse a lot of teams..but when you have three vastly different backs in terms of style, size and indeed speed, it almost becomes impossible to read. A play that DeMarco Murray would run that could punch a hole for 5-10 yards could turn into 15 for Sproles if he follows his blocks. As the team adjust to the speed of Sproles, Matthews will almost combine the two by shedding tackles yet remaining extremely quick.

Another big advantage is that whilst Murray is being constantly monitored to avoid over working him, Matthews could well be in his prime. Mathews had 285 carries in 2013 and 202 in 2011 and whilst he may not find those kind of reps in his first season wearing midnight green, he has certainly shown that he is more than capable of enduring a high number of carries. This is crucial as it allows Sproles to play a bigger role in special teams and even receiving without being overworked.

It could be argued that the future of Sproles in this Offense has been blurred with all the off-season action but a lot of people are simply assuming that he will play a minimal role this season. He’s still one of the quickest burst running backs in the NFL and the Eagles relied heavily on his presence last season, expect the same this year. Whilst he may not be getting the same number of handoffs as he did last season, he remains a key asset to the Eagles coming into this season.

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