Eagles' Sproles makes a difference with increased offensive role
With both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews on the roster, Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles has seen his offensive role diminish in 2015 after making a major impact in 2014. In Week 13, head coach Chip Kelly decided to flip the script on offense based on the matchup, using Sproles as his lead back, and the veteran responded with his most complete game of the season.
Sproles led the backfield in carries (15), receptions (4), targets (6), and total offensive snaps (35). He responded with 66 yards rushing and 34 yards receiving. He also added an 80-yard touchdown on a punt return.
Sproles finished with more offensive snaps than DeMarco Murray (14), and the Eagles also sprinkled in Kenjon Barner for 14 snaps as well. After the game, Kelly pointed to specific matchups to explain Sproles' increased role.
"Some of the matchups with the linebackers, it's as big a group of linebackers as you're going to face," Kelly said, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. "And sometimes smaller, quicker guys can cause some matchup problems."
Quarterback Sam Bradford was impressed with Sproles' ability to pick up tough yardage. He hinted that some of those runs and yards after the catch wouldn't have happened with anyone but Sproles on the field.
"Darren did a great job. He found some holes a few times that might not have been there. I'm not sure if anyone but him could have squeezed through some of those. He ran hard and picked up some extra yards for us tonight."
While Kelly wouldn't admit to any changing of guard in the backfield, it's impossible to overlook the fact that Sproles was more effective in the lead role than Murray has been for the majority of the 2015 season. However, Kelly would admit that it's important to find a way to get Sproles more involved on offense going forward.
"Darren did a great job," Kelly said. "He found some holes a few times that might not have been there. I'm not sure if anyone but him could have squeezed through some of those. He ran hard and picked up some extra yards for us tonight."