Is Eagles RB Corey Clement destined for a resurgence in year three?


The Return

Corey returned to the lineup amidst relative disarray on the offensive side of the ball. The team had been handed two crushing late-game losses to the Titans and Vikings and a lack of running prowess was the apparent culprit. Despite having Jay Ajayi back in the lineup and a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, Carson Wentz threw 50 times against Tennessee. The team then struggled to run the football against Minnesota’s formidable front seven and lost Ajayi for the rest of the season.

Clement was eased back into his role in a week six clash against the Giants in which the Eagles jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. With Wendell Smallwood showing more oomph than he had since the Eagles drafted him, Clement took a back seat against the dangerous defense of the Carolina Panthers. In eight carries, he managed just six yards and looked the clear second fiddle to Smallwood. No matter who carried the football, however, the Philadelphia run game looked lackluster and Doug Pederson was left looking for solutions. It was all very poor timing for the second year running back, who never quite his stride in the early goings.

The Birds’ overseas battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars was the catalyst of Clement’s disappointing second season. In a hope to reignite the Eagles run game, the coaching staff turned to two tight end sets and gave rookie Josh Adams a chance to take over the starting role. Neither of these new developments spelled good news for the third-down back. Pederson would now depend on Ertz and Goedert on third downs, screens and short passing situations — which meant a season-low negative one receiving yard for Clement.

Adams quick success meant curtains for the second year back on early downs. Wendell’s recent come up meant he was in prime position to steal passing down reps from his colleague as well. That coincided with the acquisition of Golden Tate, who was poised to clean up whatever crumbs were left for Clement in the screen game. The running back then surpassed his season low receiving yards against the Cowboys, registering negative five. Pederson was prepared to ride the hot hand of the backfield carousel and Clement’s hadn’t even been given the chance to get lukewarm. Following a career-high twenty touches against the Colts early in the season, he was only allowed more than ten twice for the rest of the season — in subsequent games against the Giants and Panthers.

That didn’t mark the end of Clement’s meaningful contributions, however. He still managed two incredibly productive games against the Giants and Redskins in weeks twelve and thirteen, respectively.

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Unfortunately for the young man, his efforts came in vain. By the time the Eagles were preparing for the battle to edge back into the playoffs, Darren Sproles had made his timely return to the field and Clement was put on IR to recover from a knee injury he suffered in week fourteen in Dallas. Before the injury, he still managed an electric 36-yard kick return early in the game. Still, the recent ascent was not enough to wipe away the sour taste of year two, and the season would be written off — perhaps unfairly, perhaps deservedly — as a disappointment.