DeMarco Murray has been outplayed by every running back on the Philadelphia Eagles roster for most of the 2015 season. On Sunday against the New England Patriots, his snaps finally reflected that. Murray was on the field for just 14 plays and finished with eight carries for 24 yards in the Eagles' 35-28 win
The leading running back for the Eagles instead was Darren Sproles, who was on the field for 35 plays and tallied 66 rushing yards on 15 attempts. Kenjon Barner also out-rushed Murray, finishing with 39 yards on nine carries. After the game, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly wouldn't say that Murray dropped on the depth chart and instead said that the large linebacker corps of the Patriots made using a smaller back like Sproles more advantageous.
"As the game expressed itself we just tried to go with the hot hand and we used all three," Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said about the running back rotation after the game. "DeMarco had a big run on an inside zone in the red zone there on that 5-play drive. We had a big run on that, but we thought we'd use all three today and we needed all three."
With the decision to limit Murray's touches working so well for the Eagles on Sunday, his snaps against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 will show if Kelly was telling the truth when he said the Patriots linebackers were the reason Murray only saw 14 snaps. In his Monday press conference, Kelly said that the plan for the running back rotation will be determined "on a week-to-week basis."
Coach Kelly: All of our running backs knew the game plan heading into the game. Duce Staley does a great job with the rotation.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 7, 2015
After the game, Murray expressed disappointment that he wasn't on the field more often, although he was careful not to complain much after the Eagles were able to earn a win.
"You always want an opportunity to play and obviously run the ball, but we got the big victory so that's all that matters," Murray said. "Things we were doing were working so it went well for us."
Murray led the NFL in rushing during the 2014 season, racking up 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys. He parlayed that success into a five-year, $40 million contract from the Eagles, but the lesser-paid running backs on the roster have outplayed him.
Earlier in the season, the Eagles drew criticism for giving Ryan Mathews just six carries in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, while Murray was given 18. Despite three times as many carries as Mathews, Murray finished with 65 rushing yards while Mathews had 97.
Mathews has been out of the lineup since suffering a concussion in Week 10 and hasn't practiced at all since. On Monday, Kelly said he had no update on the status of Mathews, so it seems likely that Sproles, Barner and Murray will be the three running backs for the Eagles again in Week 14.
Former Eagles starting running back LeSean McCoy will be the starting running back for the Bills on Sunday, and Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan has already hinted that he could be the team captain as well. McCoy has 792 rushing yards and 249 receiving yards in 10 games for the Bills.