Tag Archives: Jamaal Charles

The Running Man: Wendell Smallwood Hopes to be the Eagles Next Star Back

21 May
Wendell Smallwood

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood (4) during the Cactus Bowl NCAA college football game against Arizona State, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Phoenix, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri via AP)

By Chris Murray

For the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

At this time last year, Philadelphia Eagles fans were salivating at the prospect of former Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, the league’s leading rusher at the time, leading the team to the Super Bowl Promised Land.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way.  Between a patchwork offensive line and an offensive scheme that didn’t play to his strengths,  Murray couldn’t duplicate what he did in Dallas. Throw in the fact that he really wasn’t happy with the Eagles and had no problem letting anyone, including team management, know it, he was ultimately traded.

While Murray’s departure leaves a pretty sizable hole for the Birds, it also gives a rare opportunity to the team’s fifth-round draft pick, former West Virginia star Wendell Smallwood to make some real noise, starting with this week’s Rookie Mini-Camp. If he plays his cards right, he could be the starting running back for the team.

Of course, running backs Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles might have something to say about that, but what bodes well for Smallwood is that he appears to be a good fit for head coach Doug Pederson’s West Coast offense.

Playing for a usually pass-happy West Virginia squad, Smallwood led the Big 12 in rushing, gaining 1,512 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Smallwood also caught 26 passes for 160 yards and has experience as a pass blocker.

“When you look at his numbers this year (2015) and you watch the tape, it’s like doubles all the time,” said Howie Roseman, Eagles vice-president of football operations. “Fifty-eight 10-plus yard runs and it’s play after play. He runs with a determination. You see the speed on tape and you see the speed in testing.”

Smallwood fits into Pederson’s offense the way Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles or former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook fit into Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast offense because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

But Smallwood comes into his first rookie camp with some minor baggage. In July 2014, he was arrested for allegedly trying to get a witness to change a story that implicated his friend in a robbery attempt.  No criminal charges were filed.

Smallwood also got noticed here in Philadelphia for some offensive statements he made about the city in 2011 on, you guessed it, Twitter. He has since apologized and deactivated his Twitter account.

Most of Smallwood’s first press conference with the Philly media was spent fielding questions about his past social media activities and his arrest. To his credit, he handled the onslaught well and said he was happy that Eagles picked him.

“This organization trusted and believed in me and had confidence in me to know that’s not the person I am,” Smallwood said. “I think the impression that I left with the Eagles was good enough to get me drafted.”

While the scrutiny is understandable on one level, they amount to youthful indiscretion and bad judgment. If folks got judged on the stupid things that they did and said they were 18 or 19 years old,  a lot of people wouldn’t have jobs.

Did it have anything to do with why he was a fifth round pick? Not really. Had Smallwood stayed for his senior year at West Virginia, he might have been a Heisman Trophy candidate or Doak Walker Award candidate as the nation’s best running back.

Smallwood said he’s going to come into the Eagles camp with something to prove in the way he did in his final year at West Virginia.

“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder since I started playing the game,” Smallwood said. “That’s because I wasn’t getting the respect that I deserved. Just wanting to work for everything and wanting to prove to people that I’m better than whoever put me against. I’m a competitor and I love to compete.  I approach the game that way and its paid off that way in getting me here.”

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Shady McCoy for MVP: Why Not?

11 Dec
Eagles running back Shady McCoy puts a move on Detroit Lions strong safety Glover Quin en route to a 41-yard touchdown run. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles running back Shady McCoy puts a move on Detroit Lions strong safety Glover Quin en route to a 41-yard touchdown run. Photo by Webster Riddick.

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—When all the balloting for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award is finally tabulated, it will probably be either Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning or perhaps even Tom Brady of the New England Patriots taking home the trophy as the league’s best player.

Meanwhile in the City of Brotherly Love, there’s a certain running back that is having a career year and would be in serious contention for league MVP honors if it weren’t for the outstanding years of the two aforementioned superstar signal-callers.  Considering his accomplishments this season, you would have to put LeSean “Shady” McCoy in the conversation.

“I’ll put him in it, I’ll vote for (McCoy),” said Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. “I don’t know who at running back is playing better than him. You got your quarterbacks, but I’ll vote him in as MVP this year.”

Suffice it to say, McCoy is not just having a good year, he’s having a career year. In week, he’s leading the NFL in rushing with 1,305 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging five yards per carry.

“I think he’s playing better than any running back in the NFL right now,” said Eagles center Jason Kelce.

McCoy will far exceed the 1,309 yards he gained last season and was the first back in the NFL to gain 1,000 yards this season. In fact, he is 208 yards away from breaking the Eagles single-season rushing record currently held by legendary Birds running back Wilbert Montgomery, who rushed for 1,512 yards in 1979.

“I’ve met him, he’s a cool guy and knows tons about football,” McCoy said. “That would be something big to break his record.”

Not only is he the game’s leading rusher this season, McCoy is also leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,744. To top it all off, Shady also has 40 receptions for 439 yards in the passing game.

Undoubtedly, McCoy’s best performance of this season came during last Sunday’s blizzard at Lincoln Financial Field where he stormed through the Detroit Lions defense for a team-record and career-best 217 yards. He scored on two long, spectacular touchdown runs in the fourth quarter that shifted the momentum of the game to the Eagles for good.

“When you watch the film, you know he’s an explosive runner, he’s talented, he can do a lot of things on his own,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “He can make a lot of people miss. He’s probably as good as there is in the league at making people miss in the open field. I was excited when I got here to get a chance to work with him.”

McCoy’s performance last week was compelling enough to have his jersey, cleats and gloves sent to Canton, Ohio to be on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the second Eagles player this season to receive such an honor. That other jersey on display was that of quarterback Nick Foles for his seven-touchdown performance last month against the Oakland Raiders.

“That’s something special, something that my son can see and like and look up to, give him a challenge to make it there,” McCoy said.

If you don’t think McCoy is good enough to warrant MVP consideration, you have to say that he’s one of the league’s best running backs. The numbers this season certainly say it, especially when you consider that he has more yards than guys like Minnesota Vikings ball carrier Adrian Peterson, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles, Chicago’s Matt Forte and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.

“I definitely think I’m in the top five or the top three,” McCoy said. “That’s what I feel like. They’re a lot of different guys.”

McCoy said while he has a lot in common with some of the league’s best backs, he believes that there are some things that set him apart from those other backs.

“I watch myself on tape and I would say vision, I’m very elusive,” McCoy said. “I’m a long distance guy and just hard to tackle.”

With his shifty side-to-side moves, McCoy doesn’t like the idea that some observers of the game see him only as a back with speed and good moves. He said his best runs have come attacking the heart of the defense by moving straight ahead.

“A lot people think I’m a side-to-side guy, but if you really watch me that’s really not me,” McCoy said. “All of my best plays are up the middle.”

All of the attention surrounding Foles’ rise to prominence with his outstanding play has slightly obscured what McCoy has done this season. You might even argue that McCoy is not even the MVP on his team considering how well Foles has played this season.

If there’s one thing that could possibly put McCoy in the conversation for MVP,  the Eagles (8-5) have to keep winning. The first-place Birds seem to have a clear path to the NFC East crown with three games left including this Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. They are one game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.

“He’s playing really well. I hope he gets it,” said Eagles tight end Brent Celek. “Our goal is to win games and whatever happens, happens.”