Here’s a known and indisputable fact: chronic fumbling problems among running backs are not tolerated by NFL head coaches, regardless of the name on the jersey, where they were drafted, or the circumstances surrounding their fumbling. So please don’t hurt us anymore, Bryce Brown. Do you really want to make us cry?
Brown lost a key and crushing fumble in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ lastest late-game malfunction last night, this time resulting in a loss to the divisional rival Cowboys, their eighth straight defeat. With the Cowboys leading 31-27 and 3:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, Morris Claiborne picked up the loose ball and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown, a score that eventually sealed the win even after Damaris Johnson’s 98-yard punt return. It was Brown’s third lost fumble in two games, and his fourth fumble overall this season.
There’s very little patience for fingers which are that buttery, despite Brown’s brilliance throughout the rest of the game, and over the past two games as he’s filled in for LeSean McCoy. And indeed he has been brilliant, as with his 169 rushing yards and two touchdowns last night Brown now has 347 yards on the ground in just two games, and four scores. That’s just stupid, frankly. It’s the kind of production that shouldn’t be possible from a seventh-round pick, as he’s the second player in league history to rush for over 150 yards in his first two starts, and his breakaway speed last night led to runs of 24, 39, and 20 yards, and seven yards per carry.
Yeah yeah, the sample size is scant, and overreactions are aplenty. But I’m just going to throw this out there, and if you don’t like it, you can throw it right back. Brown nearly went undrafted last spring, as he was the 22nd pick in that seventh round. Arian Foster is the union leader of the undrafted running backs, and during his first two games he had 216 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Just sayin’.
So we’re all understandably really, really excited about Brown, especially with McCoy’s return still nowhere in sight. And really, at this point why the hell would the Eagles rush McCoy back, right? Again, they’ve lost eight straight, their playoffs hopes seemingly ended in July, and anyone of any importance on their staff will be fired by the end of the season (defensive line coach Jim Washburn was canned this morning). All of this is fantastic news, and you could be able to ride Brown — a waiver wire pickup — to a fantasy championship after he’s given you 71 points over just two games.
Awesome, yes? Maybe not, as his fumbling is becoming an increasingly grave concern.
Every indication points to Andy Reid being fired in about a month. Actually, he could be canned before I finish this sentence. He’s made his mistakes and earned such a fate, but it’s simply time for change during this period of transition in Philadelphia.
Cool, fair enough. But as long as he remains employed, it’s in a coach’s nature to take the necessary steps to retain that employment. Let your imagination run wild for a moment, and picture a world where the Eagles suddenly get hot, and win four straight games to close out the season. Maybe that plants a shred of doubt in owner Jeffrey Lurie’s mind and complicates his decision, eventually saving Reid. That’s the thought process of a head coach.
And more simply, any coach who isn’t playing to win every game deserves termination immediately. That’s why there’s a still small but growing fantasy fear that if his fumbles in massive, game-altering situations continue, Brown’s workload could be effected, even if McCoy remains out.
It’s taken Brown only 43 carries to lose three fumbles since he became the Eagles’ starting running back. Looking at the current top 10 running backs by rushing yards, that compares, um, unfavorably.
|Player||Carries||Fumbles lost||Carries Per Fumble|
Yeah, only one fumble apiece for half of the RBs on that list made the chart pretty simple, which is good because I only learned arithmetic this morning. Johnson comes close to Brown’s fumble rate, but of course he’s had 161 more carries.
If McCoy misses Week 14 and beyond, I still doubt we’re at the point where Brown’s carries are seriously threatened, because he’s been far too damn good, and Reid doesn’t have much of a choice. Dion Lewis is behind Brown on the depth chart, and although Reid is aware of his upcoming fate, surely he’d still like to maintain some dignity.
But it may only take one more fumble for a great value player to be grounded, at least partially. Be worried.
And now the links part of the links post…