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Eagles used two running back sets less than any NFL team in 2014

How are the Eagles going to use their running backs?

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2013 NFL season, no team ran out of single running back formations more often than the Philadelphia Eagles did. The Eagles used a single back set on 98% of their runs.

One may have figured this number might change to some extent in 2014. The Eagles added Darren Sproles last offseason so there was reason to believe Philadelphia might use some sets with both Sproles and LeSean McCoy. However, that wasn't the case.

According to a study from Football Outsiders, the Eagles once again ranked dead last in this category. A mere 0.5% of Philadelphia's plays featured runs out of a two running back formation. Here's what FO had to say about the Eagles:

"An interesting trend has seen teams hiring playcallers that not only reduce two-back usage, but ignore it completely. Recall from last year's article how the Broncos, Eagles, and Lions were all outliers that used two-back sets on four percent or fewer of their running plays. This year, we have four teams in the disqualifying italicized red font on the table below. Along with Denver and Philly, the Dolphins and Steelers also fell into the red, as none called more than 35 two-back rushing plays all season. The Eagles only ran two such plays all season! Both calls came against Dallas, one in each game, and both went for a single yard. The second one actually resulted in this Darren Sproles touchdown with LeSean McCoy throwing quite possibly his only lead run block all season. Hence, the Eagles are technically your 2014 leader in two-back rushing DVOA.

(Ed. Note: Part of the confusion here comes from how to mark certain formations. We tell charters to mark plays based on where players are after motion. The Eagles run a number of plays which start with two backs, then one back goes in motion towards the outside and the quarterback snaps the ball while the back is on the move. These get marked as "single-back," and for the purpose of comparing running plays, that seems appropriate. -- Aaron Schatz)"

It's clear that Chip Kelly's offense doesn't feature running out of two running back sets, but one can't help but wonder how Philadelphia plans to rotate their running backs now that they're more talented than ever at the position. DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles will be sharing touches throughout the year. Kelly hasn't revealed how often he plans to use his running backs, but position coach Duce Staley said he expects rotating the players won't be hard.

Based on the past, it seems like the running backs won't be sharing the field very often. Kelly has shown an affinity for operating out of 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR).

While it's not clear how often each running back will be used, it's very clear that the position will be used often. The Eagles invested heavily in running backs this offseason for a reason; they're looking to revive Kelly's run-heavy philosophy that the team kind of strayed away from in 2014.

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