Two running backs just won’t cut it

[Ed. Note: See parts one, two and three of Jared Nagle’s off-season needs series here, here and here.]

BY JARED NAGLE, Staff Writer

Photo: AP

Off-Season Need #4: Running Back

The running back position has changed over the last several years in the NFL. No longer is it the norm for teams to implore a one back system, unless of course your favorite team is privileged enough to have an Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson in their backfield. Most teams, err, most playoff teams have a two, or even three back system.

There was this big game this past Sunday between the Saints and the Colts. Did anyone notice that the Saints used a combination of RB’s Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Mike Bell? Did anyone notice the Colts split carries between Joseph Addai and rookie Donald Brown? Even former Michigan star Mike Hart got carries for the Colts.

Yes, the Eagles used a second round pick on Lesean Mccoy last April. Yes, the Eagles have Brian Westbrook (for now). I’m sorry, but that just isn’t good enough in today’s NFL.

If Lesean Mccoy showed flashes of brilliance the way previously mentioned stars Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson did in their rookie campaigns, maybe I would be singing a different tune. However, the fact remains that while McCoy did flash big play ability, he struggled in short yardage situations as well as in pass protection. At this point, McCoy is a two down back who can’t be counted on to get that oh so allusive 3rd and 1.

And Westbrook? Who knows if he will ever regain his previous form, or if he will even be on the team this time next month as the new season approaches. History tell us the Eagles are likely to coldly part ways with Westbrook just as they did with B-Dawk, Hugh Douglas and Troy Vincent before him. I was tempted to include Jeremiah Trotter, but the Eagles seem to be hung up on him (insert high school relationship satire).

Leonard Weaver did an admirable job as the Eagles short yardage back down the stretch run in the 2009 season, but he was brought to Philadelphia to be a blocking fullback and pass catcher. Eldra Buckley is in the same mold of the small, quick back that Andy Reid and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff has searched for for years but has never actually developed (barring Westbrook, but that was all the way back in 2002).

I am just going to be very direct and to the point. The Eagles need another running back to pair with Lesean McCoy. One who can get the tough yards and pass protect if need be. The Birds knew what they were getting in Mccoy, so it stands to reason they are aware they need another back to compliment him.

I expect the Eagles to address this position during the 2010 NFL draft. The free agent market is barren, and the Eagles are likely looking for fresh legs at the position anyway. It almost certainly won’t be a 1st round pick, nor should it be with all their defensive holes. However, expect a mid-to-late-round pick to be used on a back in the mold (hopefully) of a Marion Barber or Brandon Jacobs, who were both mid-round picks.

I hate to say this, but I think it drives home my point. Obviously, the Eagles got swept in three games against the Dallas Cowboys this past season. Their backfield — Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice. Yep.

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1 Comment

Filed under Editorial, Jared Nagle, Uncategorized

One response to “Two running backs just won’t cut it

  1. Leonard Weaver seemed to play a big role, especially once Westbrook went down. With him and McCoy, a possibly returning (healthy?) Westbrook, and any possible draft choices, the Eagles might be able to hold their own on the running game.

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