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Eagles Position Reviews: Running Back

A position by position breakdown of the Eagles 2013 roster.

Al Bello

The 2014 NFL offseason has begun for the Eagles, which means Chip Kelly and his staff will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2013 roster. While the team was able to manage a 10-6 record along with an NFC East crown, there are still many ways the Eagles roster could be improved upon. By the time NFL free agency starts on March 11, the Eagles will have a good idea of which players they'll want to bring back for the 2014 season. Today we'll continue this offseason review series by looking at the running back position.

The Players

LeSean McCoy

Numbers: 890 snaps, 314 attempts, 1607 yards, 5.1 Y/A, 100.4 Y/G, 9 TD, 57 Lng,  52 rec, 539 rec yards, 10.4 Y/R, 2 rec TD, 2146 yards from scrimmage, 11 total TD, 1 fumble

Review: Led the NFL in rushing and yards from scrimmage, and also set team records in those categories. Three time FedEx Ground Player of the Week. One time NFC Offensive Player of the Week. One time NFC Offensive Player of the Month. 2014 NFL Pro Bowler. One championship belt. Need I say more? McCoy was a revelation in Chip Kelly's offense. Simply put, he's a special player. McCoy's contributions were a huge reason the Eagles' offense was so successful.

Bryce Brown

Numbers: 199 snaps, 75 attempts, 314 yards, 2 TD, 4.2 Y/A, 19.6 Y/G, 2 TD, 65 Lng, 8 rec, 84 rec yards, 10.5 Y/R, 0 rec TD, 398 yards from scrimmage, 2 total TD, 0 fumbles (!)

Review: After a few eye-popping performances in 2012, Bryce Brown didn't exactly make the jump in year two that some may have expected. Brown was an adequate backup for McCoy, but nothing too special. Brown was much maligned for bouncing runs to the outside, though not always his fault depending on the play-call/blocking. There's moments where Brown flashes great potential, see: Bears game where he rushed for 115 yards and 1 TD. Then there's times where Brown trips over his own feet or bounces to the outside for no gain. Brown is still young (22) and relatively inexperienced not having played college football. It's too early to give up on Brown, but he needs to show more in the future. A big positive for Brown in 2013 was that he did not fumble a single time! That was a concern with Brown, considering he fumbled 4 times in 115 attempts during his rookie year.

Chris Polk

Numbers: 47 snaps, 11 attempts, 98 yards, 8.9 Y/A, 6.5 Y/G, 3 TD, Lng 38, 4 rec, 61 rec yards, 0 rec TD, 159 yards from scrimmage, 3 total TD, 0 fumbles

Review: Polk entered the season a changed man. He lost a lot of weight from the previous year and looked much faster and explosive in training camp. He didn't play much on offense, though. Polk was largely stuck behind Brown on the depth chart. Through the first 12 games, Polk only handled 5 carries (3 of them coming in a blowout loss versus the Broncos), and 2 receptions (both in the Denver game). In the last 4 games, Polk carried the ball 6 times and recorded 2 catches in meaningful playing time. Polk's shining moment came in the Detroit Lions snow game where he broke off a 38 yard TD run. The other 2 TD runs came in short yardage situations. Polk also largely contributed on special teams, where he recorded 5 tackles.

Matthew Tucker

Numbers: N/A.

Review: Tucker joined the team as an undrafted free agent following the conclusion of the 2013 NFL Draft. He looked decent in training camp and preseason, but the Eagles didn't want to carry four running backs on their 53 man roster. Tucker ended up on the Eagles practice squad instead. In October, Tucker was called up from the practice squad to the main roster due to a Chris Polk injury. Tucker provided depth on special teams but was inactive the remainder of the season after Polk returned from injury. Tucker could compete for a depth job in 2014 training camp.

Who Could Leave

All of these players are still under contract, so none will leave in free agency. McCoy isn't going anywhere and Brown, Polk, and Tucker are all signed to inexpensive deals.

Looking ahead, there's some chance any player not named LeSean McCoy could be cut before the start of the 2014 season. I don't think that's likely to happen. I think there's a decent chance Brown and Polk stay, but it would not surprise me to see the Eagles add a running back at some point in the offseason. Matthew Tucker's job security is the least stable out of this bunch.

Who Could Sign

The Eagles won't be looking to spend big on running backs in free agency. Perhaps they look to add a veteran back for competition purposes, just like they did with Felix Jones (oh goodness) last year.

A name that interests me, funny enough, is the guy who LeSean McCoy replaced in college at Pittsburgh: LaRod Stephens-Howling. LSH signed a one year deal with the Steelers last offseason, but tore his ACL early in the 2013 campaign. He's scheduled to be a free agent and could be signed at an inexpensive price. LSH has the ability to run and catch along with returning kicks and punts. He's small at 5-7, 180 lbs, but could be an interesting scatback in Kelly's offense.

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