This is part 2 in a four-part series. Part one can be found here.
The Eagles had such a prolific offense in 2013 and 2014 that it was very hard to swallow the disaster that appeared in front of fans for most of the 2015 season. It started with the very first drive when DeMarco Murray was blasted for multiple negative yard gains on zone stretch plays that were unsuccessful for almost 99% of the time, yet were run consistently every week of the season. That was coupled with Sam Bradford literally looking like a deer in headlights, as he appeared genuinely scared at some points during that eventual loss to the Falcons. That was just the beginning.
All the people saying Murray was a bad signing were right, as he was very ineffective on the year, finishing with just 702 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in 15 games. That was a pitiful 3.6 yards per carry, completing Murray’s worst season by far. In a league that is increasingly focusing on the pass and using a committee of running backs, Murray finished 27th in rushing yards and tied for 41st among qualified players in yards per carry. Only two running backs who qualified for the list had fewer yards per attempt.
In the first eight games of the season, Ryan Mathews looked pretty good, compiling 409 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 67 carries, good for 6.1 yards per carry. It was clear that he was the more effective back. However, in the second half of the year, he had just 130 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries, which is just 3.3 yards per carry. He also missed three games due to a concussion. Once he was giving the starting job, he wasn’t effective anymore. Darren Sproles had his lowest yards from scrimmage since 2008 despite carrying the ball the third most times (83) in his career. He made the Pro Bowl as a returner, but he just wasn’t the same player on offense.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself though. Bradford is still one of the biggest storylines surrounding this year. The beginning of the season was rough for him, but he turned it around after returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out of two and a half games and looked like a really solid quarterback. Overall, though, he finished the year with 3,725 passing yards (18th in the league), 19 touchdowns (tied for 22nd), 14 interceptions (tied for 7th highest) and a passer rating of 86.4 (26th). When looking at the year as a whole, it wasn’t great, but there is still a lot of promise for his future, barring an injury.
Jordan Matthews, the team’s top receiver with Jeremy Maclin gone, finished with better stats in his sophomore season, but the majority of his yards and touchdowns came in garbage time or in meaningless games. His only two-touchdown game came in Week 17 against the Giants after they had already been eliminated from playoff contention, and much of his other yardage and touchdowns came in the fourth quarter after the team was already losing by a lot. In fact, he finished the year fourth in the league in fourth quarter receiving yards. In other words, crown him the king of garbage time.
First round pick Nelson Agholor was bad, there’s no other way to put it. It’s obviously too early to declare him a bust, but he had just 283 receiving yards and one touchdown. Riley Cooper, the other starter on the outside, wasn’t much better, finishing with 327 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In fact, out of the 16 games he played, he failed to record a catch in seven of them. That is downright embarrassing for a starting receiver. He should be the first player out the door.
Eagles fans will forever have nightmares about the atrocities that Miles Austin performed on the football field, and luckily he was released before the season ended. Fans of Josh Huff will have to wait for that “breakout year” that so many were expecting, as he only had 312 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
At tight end, it was clear that Zach Ertz’s core muscle injury affected him more than just the preseason, in which he missed the entirety. He finished the year with 853 receiving yards but just two touchdowns. That was actually enough for seventh highest in the league in receiving yards for tight ends, but the majority of his production came in the last third of the season. Getting him more involved should be one of the most important things for next season. Brent Celek was supposed to officially become the TE2 on the team, but actually had more receiving yards (398) and touchdowns (3) than in 2014.
The offensive line was rough, to say the least. The year started with Jason Kelce, Andrew Gardner, Allen Barbre, Lane Johnson and Jason Peters on the line, but Gardner started just three games before being lost for the season, bringing Matt Tobin into the mix. Kelce, Johnson and Barbre each starting all 16 games. However, Peters seemed to get hurt at least once per game and wasn’t as effective (despite somehow making the Pro Bowl). It was very difficult to get much going on offense with guys like Barbre and Tobin consistently out there, and the copious amounts of penalties that many of them committed was rough.
Overall, the offense finished 13th in points for, 12th in passing yards and 14th in rushing yards. That doesn’t seem too bad, but coupled with the way the rest of the team played, it was certainly not enough. Stay tuned for separate posts on the defense and special teams.
- Analyzing Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster after final cuts
- Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster predictions: Version 2.0
- Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster prediction: Version 1.0
- Analyzing Eagles’ trade to No. 2 overall: Was it worth it?
- Why the Eagles shouldn’t draft any running back in the first round
- Philadelphia Eagles 2015 Season Recap: Special Teams