The story of Corey Clement is one that can never be told enough. Undrafted out of Wisconsin, Clement didn’t only fight his way into Training Camp, but he displaced Wendell Smallwood and earned his spot on the final 53. As versatile as he is aggressive, Clement stole the heart of many during preseason, but that would only be the beginning of his success.
Clement ended his regular season with has yards on the ground along with 4 rushing touchdowns…but it’s 10 receptions for 123 yards and 2 more scores that are now turning heads.
Against the Falcons, Clement caught five passes for 31 yards, including a huge 11 yard reception that helped momentum shift in favor of the home team. Many were lobbying for Ajayi to dominate the game on the ground and for the Eagles to pound the rock…but that was never going to be the case. An effort by committee is the way forward for Philadelphia and Clement is a key part of that.
“I think, first of all, he’s getting better in route running.” Pederson told reporters on Monday. “We threw some screens to him, which he’s pretty good at that. We’ve got to be smart as a staff on how we use our running backs. People can start keying in on certain guys and certain personnel groups, so we’ve got to make sure that we mix things up. He’s one of those guys that I feel like we’re getting more comfortable with throwing him the football whether it’s a screen or down the field and you saw a couple out of the backfield to him and one, big third-down play there. He catches well, and he’s done a nice job.”
Clement has caught the ball well all season long. A 28-yard catch against the Rams may be the most immediate memory, but it was his beautiful 15-yard reception against the Broncos in the corner of the end zone that really made a statement. Clement has been a reliable target out of the backfield all season long, catching at least one pass in seven games during his rookie season.
“You know what, I’m not [surprised],” said Pederson following the Eagles demolition of Denver. “Because when we had him all the way back into rookie camp, you started seeing sort of flashes and signs of what he is and was capable of doing then and now. Again, he’s another one that we sort of increase his workload each week and he’s a smart guy. He’s really picking up the offense extremely well. He runs hard and he’s aggressive. He can’t do it without the offensive line. But yeah, he’s one that [is a] very, very special running back right now and we’ll just keep him coming.”
Last year, the Eagles ranked 24th in red zone scoring. The team continued to push their way deep into enemy territory and struggle to punch the ball into the end zone. A swaying factor in the decision to draft the likes of Mack Hollins and sign Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles have paid close attention to their struggled inside the red zone and it’s paying dividends.
Corey Clement has been a red zone monster this season for the Eagles. In fact, all six of his touchdowns have come from within the opposing 20-yard line.
Keeping things unpredictable certainly seems to be the way that the Eagles are headed as the NFC Championship game draws closer. The offense on Saturday showed glimpses of Chip Kelly’s mindset, with Pederson stating he went back to watch some 2013 film on Nick Foles to see what he could implement into his own offense. Of course, what made Kelly’s offense so lethal was the amount of screens, sweeps and misdirects coming out of the backfield.
With a three-headed monster standing alongside Nick Foles, the Eagles have an arsenal to fire heavily at Minnesota…and although Jay Ajayi is certainly capable of breaking off those huge runs and receptions, expect Corey Clement to see a growing role as time goes on. No Eagles running back has carried the ball more than 16 times this year, even in the playoffs. Rotation is the name of the game…and Corey Clement may be the most dangerous contestant playing.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports