I can’t help but feel very unsatisfied about the way the Eagles have approached the running back situation. While it wasn’t the team’s most pressing need in the offseason, it was certainly an area that needed to be upgraded. And all the Eagles have been able to do to this point is add Donnel Pumphrey, who projects to be a more of a Darren Sproles-type role player rather than a true starting-caliber back.
Sadly enough, the plan may be to repeat last season’s backfield approach of running Darren Sproles into the ground while sprinkling in Wendell Smallwood and perhaps Pumphrey every so often. It’s also worth noting that Ryan Mathews is still on the roster as of this writing, but I still think its pretty unlikely that he returns. Another guy to keep an eye on is Terrell Watson, who saw some action late in the season. With the lack of depth on the roster, he’s got as good a chance as anyone to carve out a role for himself.
This is the one area of the team where I feel like there absolutely has be another shoe to drop sometime between now and the start of the season. Maybe the team looks at a LaGarrette Blount, who is probably the top free agent still unsigned. Maybe they try to swing a Timmy Jernigan-style trade for a guy like Jeremy Hill on the last year of his contract. Maybe a journeyman type guy like Christine Michael makes Philadelphia his next stop.
But if the Eagles go into the season with Darren Sproles on top of the depth chart, I feel like that’s a failure on the front office. I know that the team had a lot of needs, and I give Howie Roseman credit for how he’s improved the receivers, offensive line, and defense, but in the interest of putting Carson Wentz in the best possible position to succeed, the team has to more than what they’ve done.
As great as Sproles has been, you can’t ignore the workload he’s got on his body and the number of years he’s been in the league. He’s done a remarkable job holding up, but he’s been defying conventional logic as it stands. Even if he’s got another season in him, getting 15 touches a game is going to wear him down quickly.