Pat Shurmur spins DeMarco Murray's shrinking workload
Pat Shurmur's weekly fireside chat with the media started off with a lot of upbeat questions about the impressive play of quarterback Sam Bradford. Then the subject shifted to DeMarco Murray's reduced playing time.
Pat Shurmur's weekly fireside chat with the media started off with a lot of upbeat questions about the impressive play of quarterback Sam Bradford.
Then the subject shifted to DeMarco Murray's reduced playing time and workload the last couple of weeks, and Shurmur got the same look on his face that Hillary Clinton gets when somebody brings up Benghazi.
"We're on the backs again, huh?," Shurmur said.
Murray, who won the league rushing title with the Cowboys last season, who lugged the ball an NFL-high 392 times, who was given a five-year, $40 million contract with $18 million in guarantees by the Eagles, played just 25 snaps and had just 11 carries in Sunday's 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills.
This came a week after he played just 14 snaps and had only eight carries against New England.
Coach Chip Kelly attributed his smaller workload against the Patriots to the size of New England's linebackers and his desire to go with smaller, quicker Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner for matchup purposes.
As for why Murray only had 11 carries this week, Shurmur said, "We have what we believe to be four really good running backs. So we want to use them all.
"If you put a really good player in the game and he's fresher as you go, then you get a little bit more out of him."
That's a nice explanation, but not necessarily an accurate one. The main reason Murray isn't playing more is because he hasn't been very effective when he's been in the game.
He's averaging just 3.5 yards per carry and only 2.9 on first down. Ryan Mathews is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, Sproles 4.0 and Barner 4.6. Murray had 34 yards on his 11 carries against the Bills, none longer than seven years.
"When you have a featured back, and that's the unintended consequence of saying you only have one guy, then that guy takes a lot of pounding and a lot of wear and tear," Shurmur said.
"When I was in St. Louis, we had Steven Jackson. He was our featured back. But he was also by far our best running back. He was a dynamic, explosive player."
So, basically, the Eagles gave $18 million in guaranteed money to a guy that isn't by far the Eagles' best running back, then?
"Why are we going to make that judgment?" Shurmur said. "Are we going to make it based on what that player's making? How much he plays?
"We're trying to win football games and we want to put fresh running backs in the game. Period. End of story."
TUESDAY PRACTICE NOTES: Wide receiver Jordan Matthews and offensive linemen Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin didn't participate in Tuesday's light one-hour practice. Matthews is nursing a back injury that he played with against the Bills. Tobin was wearing a pressure sleeve on his right leg. It wasn't clear why Barbre didn't practice.