The Eagles were one of the biggest distributors of carries in the NFL last season, being tenth in the league in total rushing but with Ryan Mathews being the top rusher with just 661 yards. How LeGarrette Blount will fit into the rotation will be as interesting as it will be an adjustment.
Blount rushed for 1,161 yards last season on 299 carries. Mathews was the leading Eagles rusher with 155 carries. Unless the Eagles plan on reaching the 500 club in total carries (438 last season), they’ll need a joint carry plan that we really haven’t seen in the NFL despite how enticing the idea of having two primary running backs sounds.
One obvious spot where Blount can help is third down conversions. Philadelphia was 20th in the league in third down conversion percentage last season (37.9%). Blount converted 67 carries for first downs in New England last season, compared to Ryan Mathews’ 38 conversions. Attempts and conversions aside, a difference of nearly 30 is significant and adds another element defenses have to respect on third and short situations.
From a team perspective, the Eagles front office seems pretty committed to the running back position. According to Spotrac, the Eagles are set to spend the sixth most amount of money on the running back position in the league next season. However, the Eagles spread the money such that a single injury in such a high-risk position shouldn’t affect production as much as teams who have one go to back.
From a future perspective, Blount is another addition to the patchwork the Eagles have made to their roster. Assuming the bigger names the Eagles have signed this offseason will start or at least receive significant playing time, the Eagles have around eight players expected to make significant contributions who will be free agents after the 2017 season.
The reason why the Eagles or any team in the NFL wouldn’t hand out long-term contracts could range anywhere from lack of confidence in the player to continue to perform to uncertainty in the fit. While the Eagles seem to fit more into the latter, the 2017 season will have plenty of proven names on the roster. However, the long-term status of many players expected to make contributions is questionable enough to consider the express goal of 2017 to be another building year for Carson Wentz. Winning feels possible, but to expect instant cohesion with this many new players in high profile positions feels equally foolish.
With the potential of 2018 being just as hectic of an offseason in resigning players who performed and getting new players to fill new roster holes, the focus of the Eagles is on getting talent around Carson Wentz regardless of who provides it.
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