In Doug Pederson’s first year, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood all had over 300 rushing yards and averaged over 4.0 yards per carry.
In 2017, Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount were an unstoppable combo, and Corey Clement added over 300 rushing yards and a 4.3 average.
In 2018, Josh Adams, Smallwood and Clement combined for over 1,100 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
And last year, Miles Sanders led the way, but Jordan Howard was very good the first half of the year and Boston Scott the second half.
So far this year?
Miles. Just Miles.
The Eagles' running back rotation that Pederson loves so much and is so essential in this offense has been a bust.
Clement and Scott have been ineffective running the ball and non-factors in the passing game.
And if Pederson really does want to limit Sanders’ workload - the 2nd-year pro only got 13 carries Sunday - the Eagles are going to need somebody else to produce or it’s going to be very difficult for this offense to function.
Clement averaged 4.1 yards per carry coming into the season and Scott was at 4.0. But four games in, Clement is at 2.7 on 11 carries and Scott is at 3.3 on 18 carries.
It’s not a huge sample size, but it’s reasonable to think that if they were producing more they’d be getting more work.
Of 74 backs in the NFL with at least 10 carries, Scott ranks 62nd and Clement 67th.
Sanders is at a healthy 4.6, same as his big rookie year.
Adrian Killins’ 12-yard loss Sunday brings the overall average down, but all Eagles running backs other than Sanders have a total of 79 rushing yards and a 2.5 average.
Clement and Scott have both been very good receiving backs. We all know what Clement did in the Super Bowl. And Scott caught 23 passes in the Eagles’ last four games last year.
But in the Eagles' first four games, Scott is just 5-for-43 receiving and Clement has two catches for two yards.
Here’s a look at the Eagles’ yards from scrimmage in every year under Pederson from their backup running backs, with this year’s total projected:
- 2016: 1,388
- 2017: 1,333
- 2018: 1,676
- 2019: 1,163
- 2020: 504
Part of the problem could be that all facets of the offense have struggled this year, and that's affected Clement and Scott.
The offensive line is riddled with injuries, Carson Wentz has struggled, Doug Pederson’s play calling magic has been fleeting and the Eagles just haven’t been able to move the ball consistently.
But it’s hard to ignore the numbers. Clement didn’t have any offensive touches last year before he got hurt, so he hasn’t been a part of this offense in a long time. And as impressive as Scott was late last year, his body of work is a small one.
What options do the Eagles have?
Elijah Holyfield is on the practice squad and had a good training camp, but he’s never played in an NFL game. The Eagles released Mike Warren from the practice squad on Sept. 29 and released Killins from the 53-man roster on Monday.
They claimed former New Mexico State star Jason Huntley off waivers a few weeks ago, and he’s played only one offensive snap in four games, and that was back on opening day. But he was a 5th-round pick this year so maybe he can help.
We know they’re looking for running back help because they were planning on bringing in Devonta Freeman for a workout before the Giants lost Saquon Barkley for the season and signed him.
But there isn't much out there.
And a franchise that had Fire and Ice with Charlie Garner and Ricky Watters, the three-headed monster with Duce, Buck and B-West and a Super Bowl tandem with Ajayi and Blount has just one productive running back right now.
It's not enough.