There has been an internal war in Philadelphia this season and not between players. Chip Kelly the coach vs Chip Kelly the GM. Against the Patriots however, Chip Kelly the coach finally pulled through and made one crucial decision that turned the tide of what was set to be the teams toughest game so far.
From the very first snap of the season, Chip Kelly has stood firmly behind DeMarco Murray. As the weeks went on both fans and analysts alike began to see the flaws in Murray’s North/South game whilst Chip Kelly was adamant that he could fly in this Offense.
The reason as to why Mathews wasn’t given more reps remained a mystery to everyone. We assumed that the 1-2 punch was finally going to come to fruition which it very almost did until Mathews fell injured. It appears that without Mathews’ ability to confuse Defenses and charge through the trenches for some dirty yards, Murray stagnated.
The only reason that Murray had taken so many snaps until this weekend comes down to one of two reasons..either it’s determination to prove you’re right or…finance. Chip Kelly the GM was very much aware that he had signed the former Cowboy to a five year deal worth $42 million. As a GM, you can’t simply sideline someone who’s going to cost the team that much.
But this weekend, Chip Kelly the GM won, he defeated his alter-ego GM Chip and gave Sproles the carries he had been crying out for. DeMarco Murray played in just 23% of snaps, carried the ball 7 less times than Sproles and 1 less than fourth string back Kenjon Barner. Even more significant though are the rushing stats themselves.
Barner rushed for 15 yards more than Murray on just one more carry..even worse is that 19 of Murray’s 24 yards (79% of his total yards) came off of one play. Not only that but Murray suffered the lowest amount of rushing yards since week 2 of this season.
It was almost as if Chip tried to do something different against the Patriots after having enough of seeing his fast paced Offense become a complete contradiction of itself.
The strings had snapped, the pressure was on and Kelly made a ballsy move to effectively cut Murray’s snaps in half. It’s the first time all season we have seen the ruthlessness of Chip Kelly, the aggressive coaching style that made him so prominent to begin with..and it could not have come at a better time.
The reason Kelly gave to the media was that there was a big group of linebackers and they went with the hot hand.
“Went with the hot hand”.
If this mentality continues, with Mathews expected to be back within two weeks, it doesn’t exactly spell sunshine and rainbows for DeMarco Murray. His yards are dropping significantly and his snaps are now beginning to follow as the other backs in the committee flourish. Kelly knows how explosive Sproles and Mathews can be and despite a fumble late on from Barner, the former Duck looked more than capable of delivering when needed.
So what does this mean for Murray? Well, it would be silly to assume it means his future with the Eagles is going to be slashed down instantly but the signs aren’t exactly pointing to a long term future. There is no denying that the Eagles have some vital areas that need filling but the only issue is, which team would be willing to pick up such a hefty contract?