Rushing To Glory: Evolution of The Eagles Running Backs
Let's take a look back for a minute. Way back in 1906, a new phenomenon was added to the wide lexicon of American Football - the Forward Pass - and it changed football as we knew it forever.
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Bring the clock back up by a hundred years and you'll find quarterbacks posting throwing yards in excess of 5,000 each season.
The football played in the NFL has evolved more and more into a passing game, and the Eagles were never ones to be left behind the curve, claiming their fair share of top-shelf quarterbacks throughout the years. It has to be noted, however, that the passing game has never been a one-man show; with every star quarterback taking his golden arm out onto the field of play, there has always been a special running back completing the set.
Chip Kelley's head coaching career with the Eagles began in an era that saw quarterback numbers, as well as their salaries, reaching absurdly high levels. In spite of the prevailing trends, Kelly decided to do things his own way, consistently focusing the Eagles' offense on the run game, just as if we were back in time by about a hundred years. Eagles odds don't see to suffer much from the preference, so there might be a method to his madness.
The Run Game
As he stated last Thursday, he's always held the belief that running the ball is a core aspect of an effective, efficient, and productive offensive strategy. Recent additions to his squad, including the likes of Ryan Matthews and DeMarco Murray looking to partner up with Chris Polk and Darren Sproles, indicate that the maverick coach is looking to initiate a ground-based offensive once again.
With Sproles, Murray, and Matthews all available to hit the field, the coach seems to be spoilt for choice in how he chooses to deploy his arsenal of running backs, and the tantalizing uncertainty has Eagles fans in a fever of excitement for the coming days.
As we all wait to see how he plays his cards, let's take a bit of a look at how the Eagles' running back slot has evolved over the years, then we'll bring things back to the here and now.

Steve Van Buren
1944 - 9151 | 5,860 Rush Yards
With consecutive NFL Championships, 3 division titles, and 4 individual rush honors, Steve Van Buren's list of accomplishments left no doubt as to the player's quality. The 6-foot-1 Honduras weighed in at a considerable 210 pounds, which didn't prevent him from possessing unbelievable speed. There's little doubt that had been plying his trade in today' NFL, he would definitely rank up there with the greats of the game.

Timmy Brown
1960-1967 | 3,703 Rush Yards
Sometimes overlooked in talks of great Eagles running backs, his first two seasons in Philadelphia after a short, unfruitful stint with Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers saw him hold the place of kick returner.
He got his chance in
1962, and he took it. He proved himself to be one of the fastest players present in the NFL as of 1965, averaging five yards per carry and catching 50 passes on his way to becoming the very first NFL player to rush 850 yards.

Wilbert Montgomery
1977-1984 | 6,538 Rush Yards
An exceptional college athlete, the 5-foot-10 Montgomery didn't inspire much confidence with the professional scouts, but he had silenced all critics by his second season with the Eagles. He quickly grew to become the Eagles' primary offensive weapon in their 1980 Super Bowl run.
That season saw Montgomery enter the annals of Philadelphia sporting legend with his astonishing 194 yard rush in their 1980 NFC matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. He was finally traded out following the 1984 season, but by then he had surpassed the great Van Buren's Eagles franchise career rush record.

Keith Byars
1986-1992 | 2,672 Rush Yards
Herschel Walker
1992-1994 | 2,344 Rush Yards
Charlie Garner
1994-1998 | 2,261 Rush Yards
Ricky Watters
1995-1997 | 3,794 Rush Yards
The 1980's saw the shift to a more pass-oriented gameplay in the NFL, although the Eagles maintained their style to a large extent. The change in league preference was greatly influenced by San Francisco coach Bill Walsh's implementation of the West Coast offensive game.

Duce Staley
1997-2003 | 4,807 Rush Yards
Brian Westbrook
2002-2009 | 5,995 Rush Yards
Correll Buckhalter
2001-2008 | 2,155 Rush Yards
Of this group, it was Westbrook that achieved lasting individual success, managing to wrap up his career at second place on the All-time Eagles rushing board (he's now in third place), posting 6,538 yards within eight seasons.

LeSean McCoy:
2009-2014 | 6,792 Rush Yards
A Philadelphia kid straight down to the marrow, LeSean stepped onto the Eagles playground with lightning moves and a flashy grin. After growing up in Harrisburg to playing college football at Pittsburgh, he was drafted onto the Eagles squad in the 2009 Draft.
In any scenario where McCoy is left to face up to one single defender out in open field, the smart money is always on McCoy - and they're almost never wrong. His slippery elusiveness has seen him rise up the charts to become part of Eagles history as their all-time leading rusher. He has flourished under coach Chip Kelly's direction, with back-to-back stellar seasons of 1,607 yards rushed, which is a franchise record in itself, and 1,319 yards.



 


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