Philadelphia Eagles Bye Week Questions—RBs Splitting Carries

LVCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 1: Running back Brian Westbrook #36 (R) stands on the sideline with second round draft pick running back LeSean McCoy #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles during minicamp at the NovaCare Complex on May 1, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Will Eagles have problems splitting carries between rookie RB LeSean McCoy and veteran Brian Westbrook?

In the Eagles big Week three win over the hapless Chiefs, a huge bright spot for the Eagles was the play of 2009 second-round pick LeSean McCoy.  The former Pitt standout showed the hands, cut-back ability, and speed the Eagles knew he had on draft day—finished with 20 rushes for 84 yards and one TD with one catch for nine yards.  McCoy’s breakout performance, including no fumbles and good blitz pickup, prompted Eagles head coach Andy Reid to announce that going forward during the 2009 season that the youngster and Westbrook would be splitting carries.

The move by Reid was part shocker and part no brainer.  Though Westbrook has always been the Eagles main weapon for the past five plus seasons, he clearly is on the downside of his career and has been battling the injury bug as of late.  B-West is coming off ankle and knee surgeries this offseason that forced him to miss playing in any of the Eagles preseason games.  After a solid performance against the Panthers in week one by Westbrook—produced numbers of 13 rushes for 64 yards and three receptions for eight yards, one TD—he hurt his ankle against the Saints and the Eagles had no choice but to give McCoy a try.  The Eagles options after McCoy and Westbrook are limited to Eldra Buckley, so any way of keeping the two frontline backs healthy and fresh, I am all for. 

The NFL is all about having at least two quality running backs playing in games to keep defensive coordinators guessing and having guys fresh for November and December.   Last year several teams including the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, and NY Giants (Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward both over 1,000 yards in 2008) utilized two backs keeping constant pressure on defenses with fresh legs in the backfield at all times.  In today’s NFL necessitates having two running backs because the position is so demanding (inside power runs, match-ups, mismatches, hands, blitz pickup, etc).  Hopefully for Eagles fans, Westbrook will check his ego and allow McCoy his opportunities, so the former Pro Bowl player will be ready when it matters most.

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