Saints vs. Eagles: Now isn’t the time to let DeMarco Murray break out
By John Hendrix
The New Orleans Saints got a major boost of confidence after knocking off the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. As bittersweet as it’s been to cherish and revel in a victory, the reality is that the team simply cannot sleep on the Philadelphia Eagles. Like the Saints, the Eagles find themselves in unexpected territory with a 1-3 record. Losses against the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, and most recently the Washington Redskins have been by narrow margins of 10 or fewer points.
Sounds familiar, right?
It’s hard not to find yourself looking ahead on the schedule, as these two squads each have tough opponents coming. After the Saints, the Eagles will host the New York Giants and then travel to play the Carolina Panthers. On the flip side, the black and gold host the Atlanta Falcons on a very short week, and then travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts.
Both squads have their respective opportunities. Most notably for the Eagles, it’s the lack of utilization on DeMarco Murray, who was the NFL’s leading rusher last season. Murray voiced his opinion following the game against the Redskins.
"“Do I think I’m touching the ball [enough]?” Murray said. “No, I’m not. I don’t think I am. But it’s the plays that are being called. I love this offense. I love playing with these guys. It’s just how it is.”“At the end of the day,” Murray said, “you’ve got to make plays. We’re here for a reason. We’ve got to get more opportunities and get the ball in our playmakers’ hands. We’re 1-3. It’s pretty frustrating.”"
Murray’s day started well, gaining 30 yards on his first carry. However, his next seven rushes went for a whopping 6 yards. Last season, Murray nearly averaged 30 touches per game. He beat up on the New Orleans Saints defense as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, rushing for 149 yards on 24 carries in a 38-17 victory. He also scored twice.
This season is a much different story, as Murray is seeing his reps split between Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, and himself. The Eagles are averaging only 70 yards on the ground per game through four weeks, which is currently 30th in the NFL. The Saints don’t have much to talk about, as their 28th in the league with 82.8 rushing yards per game.
Brotherly Love – Eagles running back snap counts
DeMarco Murray – 103 (39%)
Darren Sproles – 95 (36%)
Ryan Mathews – 74 (28%)
Frustration has come from players like center Jason Kelce, who called the offensive line a ‘disgrace now’.
"“Bottom line is our defense plays good enough, our offense struggles to move the ball when we don’t do our job, and that’s been the thing from the f—— beginning of the season,” Kelce said. “That’s been exactly what stalled out our offense from the beginning all the way through these first four games. And right now we don’t run the ball when we need to, we don’t pass block when we need to, and it’s a disgrace right now.”"
It won’t stop there for their woes on the offensive line, as starting right tackle Lane Johnson will play Sunday despite a sprained MCL and ankle injury. Johnson put things in perspective by saying, ‘We ain’t go nobody else.’
Facing a team desperate to find a win, the New Orleans Saints must keep their guard up, and ultimately keep things going. The winner of this game may find themselves pole vaulting ahead in their season, and the loser may find it difficult to recover. With the league’s 27th ranked rushing defense (123.2 rushing yards per game), the Saints can ill afford to let DeMarco Murray find his groove on Sunday.
One encouraging note to leave you with? After the Saints surrendered 59 rushing yards to Dallas on the first two plays, they finished with a total of 115 rushing yards allowed. That’s quite an adjustment.
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