Are 2018 Eagles better or worse at running back?

Are 2018 Eagles better or worse at running back?

The Eagles’ leading rusher a season ago, LeGarrette Blount, was allowed to walk in free agency. Of course, the team already picked up his replacement, Jay Ajayi, in an October trade with the Dolphins.

The changing of the guard is complete in the running backs room, but are the 2018 Eagles better for it?



Blount proved there was something left in the tank, but was running on fumes by December. Over his final eight games including playoffs, the 31-year-old averaged 3.5 yards per attempt or below in all but two — a meaningless Week 17 contest against the Cowboys and 14-carry, 90-yard performance in Super Bowl LII.

The Eagles should be better served by fresh legs down the stretch. Ajayi, 25, quickly snatched the lead role from Blount with a healthy 5.3-yard average after the trade, bringing a needed explosive element to the offense. And Corey Clement, 23, is in line for more touches after racking up 616 yards from scrimmage and leading the team’s backs with seven total touchdowns.

Blount served his purpose. His bruising, between-the-tackles rushing style simply isn’t conducive for a running back’s body holding up over a full season at that age. With a split workload, wearing down shouldn’t be an issue for Ajayi and Clement.


Ball security

Somewhat surprisingly, the most troubling aspect of the Ajayi trade wasn’t his bad knee, which has been referred to as a ticking time bomb — not yet, anyway.

That’s a concern, although the more immediate question is whether Ajayi can take care of this fumbling problem. He’s now put the ball on the carpet eight times over the past two seasons, or once every 73 touches. Only Tavon Austin has coughed it up more during that span.

Ball security is paramount. It doesn’t matter how fresh Ajayi is in January. If he fumbles at the wrong time, it can cost the Eagles their season.

The same

Darren Sproles

Technically, you can call this an upgrade, seeing as the Eagles were without Sproles since September of last season. The important thing is the Eagles know what they’re getting when they plug the three-time Pro Bowl selection into the lineup. He’s a shifty ball carrier who can get to the second and third levels quickly, and a matchup problem as a receiver out of the backfield.

Sproles is 35 and coming back from a torn ACL, issues we addressed in a previous chapter. Despite those concerns, as a special weapon getting 5-10 touches per game, he has enough short-distance quickness and veteran savvy to get the job done.

The unknown

Donnel Pumphrey

Chosen in the fourth round in last year’s draft, Pumphrey looked completely out of place in preseason action. The NCAA’s all-time leading rusher averaged 1.9 yards per carry, 5.5 yards per reception and couldn’t get much going in the return game, either.

Listed at 5-foot-9, 176 pounds, is Pumphrey too slight to play in the NFL? With 4.48 speed, is he not elusive enough to dodge hits at this level? Maybe.

It’s also possible Pumphrey was some combination of slowed by a hamstring injury (he eventually landed on injured reserve in September, though it’s unclear whether it was related), a little in over his head learning the playbook and not put in a position to succeed in the third-string offense. Yes, he needed to bulk up and needs to adapt to the speed of the game, but the Eagles felt the 23-year-old warranted another look. We’ll see.

Better or worse?

Blount exceeded some expectations last season, but the late-season declines have become a regular occurrence. It’s only a matter of time before he’s plodding and un-menacing in September, too. Give those touches to Ajayi and Clement, mix in Sproles, and maybe even a dash or Pumphrey or Wendell Smallwood, and this has the making of a much more dynamic group than a season ago. BETTER

More on the Eagles

What water ice flavor are you?

NBC Sports Philadelphia

What water ice flavor are you?

Wooder ice is a personality trait and no one can tell us otherwise. 

Here in Philadelphia, we don't mess around when it comes to our declarations of love for our favorite foods. And we take it quite seriously which type of food aligns with our personality traits as a result. 

So we're giving you the chance to determine what *wooder ice* flavor best suits your personality with this extremely scientific quiz. 

Pick some iconic Philly places, players and more to determine your flavor. 

A deep investigation into all the Philly sports references in The Office

NBC Sports Philadelphia

A deep investigation into all the Philly sports references in The Office

I have invested a great deal of time in binge-watching NBC’s The Office on more than one occasion, with the most recent instance taking place during this period of quarantine.

One of the best aspects of the show, is its location — its proximity to the city we know and love. 

According to Dwight K. Schrute, Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch is only a 30-minute trip to Philadelphia if you drive 240 miles per hour — which to be very clear, we don’t recommend. 

So it’s really no surprise that the characters have often discussed things that we hold near and dear to our hearts in this city: cheesesteaks and Philly sports. 

In fact, we have compiled a list of 20 mentions, references, and reminders of Philly sports across 19 of the show’s 201 total episodes. 

S1E1: Pilot


Meet Ryan Howard.
I’ll leave it at that. 

S1E5: Basketball

The lack of Sixers t-shirts during the matchup between The Office versus The Warehouse was quite disappointing, but this absolutely incredible find made up for it: a mask eerily similar to Joel Embiid’s mask in the 2018 playoffs and a Mike Scott.


Foreshadowing two greats, perhaps?

S2E3: Office Olympics

If you look closely, you’ll notice a Mike Lieberthal bobblehead on Dwight’s desk. A nod to the Phillies, right? Sure. But the reference goes deeper than just the red and white pinstripes. 

Mike Lieberthal’s full name is Michael Scott Lieberthal. Mind blown? 


S3E23: The Job

When interviewing for a job at the corporate office, CFO David Wallace jokes around with Jim about his candidacy for the position because he’s a Sixers fan. Clap your hands, indeed, Halpert.

S3E18: The Negotiation

Jim’s then-girlfriend complains about his priorities, saying, “You would rather sit on your couch and watch a Phillies game than go out to a movie with your awesome girlfriend.”

What is the issue here, exactly?

S4E9: Local Ad

Jim shows Pam Dwight’s profile in the game Second Life when she notices that Jim gave his character a job as a sports writer in Philadelphia. 

Careful what you wish for, Beesly.
S4E15: Night Out

Ryan Howard pretends to be The Big Piece at a club.
Again, just going to leave it at that.

S4E16: Did I Stutter?

Ryan calls Jim into the conference room to ask the question we Eagles fans hate: Why?

Well, he really asks “How?” but you get the point. 

S5E18: Blood Drive

Kevin Malone recaps his worst breakup, saying, “We were reading the paper and I said, ‘Oh my God, I think the Eagles could clinch the NFC East.’ And she said that we’re done.” 

The Eagles, of course, had some fun with that: 

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Like if you’ve always believed. #FlyEaglesFly

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S6E6: Mafia

This one was a sneaky one. Jimbo has made it pretty clear that he’s a Philly sports guy, but his love spreads as far as the Arena Football League, too. If you look closely at his desk when Kevin “moves in” during the Halpert honeymoon, you can see a football with what looks like the AFL logo on its side. Philadelphia Soul fan, huh?

S7E8: Viewing Party

Jim changes the channel during the company’s Glee viewing party.

S9E1: New Guys

In an effort to become friends with one of the new guys, Pete, Jim asks if he’s a fan of the Phillies. After a couple of *coughs* stupid answers, Pete says he’s a Red Sox fan.


S9E2: Roy’s Wedding

During the car ride back from Roy’s wedding, Pam tells Jim about a past plan to surprise him with Sixers tickets for his 30th birthday. Jim, already knowing about the gift, laughs with his wife about her mistake of buying courtside seats to an away game in Phoenix. 

An away game nowadays? With their record on the road? Dodged a bullet there.

S9E3: Andy's Ancestry 

At the end of this episode, Jim tells Pam that he’s accepted an offer at Athlead, a sports marketing agency in Philadelphia.

S9E10: Lice

Kevin, Darryl, and Jim talk about the Sixers during their lunch break. 

Later in that episode, Jim has a meeting with Sixers legend, Julius Erving. 

A little 1-on-1 with Dr. J? Sure, no biggie.


S9E14: Vandalism

At the 11:10 minute mark, the Philadelphia Flyers show up on the bottom of this presentation board on the bottom right corner at Athlead, the first reference we could find regarding the Flyers in any capacity. 

Additionally, there are quite a few Eagles names on here, inlcuding Nick Foles,  Jason Kelce and Kurt Coleman and even Andrew McCutchen, though it would be prior to him joining the Phillies of course. 

S9E18: Promos

Ryan Howard (yes, THE Ryan Howard) has a meeting at Athlead with Jim and Darryl. During their conversation, he shares his screenplay for “The Big Piece.”

The other Ryan Howard even sent him a special video message during his retirement ceremony at Citizens Bank Park in one of the greatest crossovers we have ever seen.


S9E20: Paper Airplane

Jim gets a call from a colleague over at Athlead and asks if they’ve heard back from Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels yet. 

S9E21: Livin’ the Dream

The last mention I noticed came from the final season’s 21st episode. Jim is once again trying to connect with Pete, saying “Go Phillies, right?” before realizing Pete stinks and doesn’t watch the beautiful game of baseball.

There you have it, all of the mentions we could find in this show regarding Philly sports, except the Flyers, which we are still unsure if Halpert is a fan of or not. 

And before anyone gets spicy and feels the need to tell me how bored I must have been for doing this, just remember, you’re the one reading this.


We also unearthed this deleted scene that references The one and only Answer at 1:48 in this clip below.


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