Ryan Mathews led the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night with 97 rushing yards, but most of those came on a 63-yard touchdown in the third quarter that cut the Carolina Panthers' lead to 21-13. That carry was the fifth of the night for Mathews and he had just one more, finishing with six rushing attempts.
DeMarco Murray finished with 65 yards on 18 attempts, with an 11-yard run serving as his longest of the night, while Mathews also managed a 22-yard run in the first half. After the Mathews touchdown, Murray had eight more rush attempts, while Mathews had just one, leading to criticism for the Eagles coaching staff.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly -- who is also the play caller for the offense -- said after the game that the responsibility of the running back rotation falls on Duce Staley, a former Eagles running back, who now serves as the team's running backs coach. Via The Philadelphia Inquirer:
"Duce is running the rotation," Kelly said. "Some of it is we're calling pass plays. [Mathews] was in there for a few passes."
Kelly also said on Monday that Staley was careful not to give too many touches to Mathews after the running back suffered a groin injury in the first half.
Murray was the prized free agent acquisition for the Eagles in the offseason, signing a five-year, $40 million contract, but he has simply been outplayed by Mathews, who was signed as an afterthought to a three-year, $11 million deal. The former San Diego Chargers first-round pick has 342 yards and three touchdowns on just 56 carries, while Murray has 307 yards and three touchdowns on 88 carries.
After the game, Mathews insisted that he wasn't frustrated with the lack of touches and said the coaches are doing a good job of keeping him fresh.
"We just have to make the most of our opportunities. We have three good running backs," Mathews said. "(The coaches) are keeping us healthy and we're rolling (different guys on the field). We just have to put everything together and get better this week. ... I just try to make plays and do my best."
At 3-4, the Eagles are one game behind the New York Giants for the lead in the NFC East and have a Week 8 bye to regroup. Despite the criticisms of the rotation, Philadelphia has averaged 173.7 rushing yards per game in the last three weeks after managing just 70 in the first two weeks combined.
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