The Philadelphia Eagles have announced the signing of free agent RB Felix Jones to a one-year deal. Yes, he’s a former Cowgirl, but I actually like the signing and what it signifies for this team…
It means that you can bet on the Philadelphia Eagles running the ball a hell of a lot more under Chip Kelly in 2013.
This might be a foreign concept to Eagles fans who grew up during the pass-heavy Andy Reid era. Reid loved to pass the ball and usually had a true called-pass vs. called-run ratio of somewhere in the 60-40 range on average.
However, I think that ratio may actually be the reverse under Kelly.
In Kelly’s “coaching clinic” that made its rounds after the Eagles hired him, he talked quite a bit about running the football. In fact, that’s just about all he talked about. Of course, it’s about the zone read option offense as a whole, but regardless, his offensive philosophy centers around running the ball.
Last season at Oregon, Kelly’s offense actually attempted 373 total passes vs. a whopping 685 runs. Of those 685 runs, 145 came from the QB position so that still leaves 373 passes to 540 runs.
If you count the runs by the QB, Kelly had a 65-35 run-pass ratio heavily slanted towards the run. If you remove the QB runs in an effort to think more along the lines of “true runs by a running back”, then the ratio is more like 60-40 in favor of the run.
If you go back to 2011, you see the same thing…
386 pass plays vs. 629 run plays. If you take away the runs by the QB, it was 386 vs. 550, or a 59/41 split in favor of the run.
Either way, Kelly obviously likes to run the football and that is the stark opposite of Andy Reid. This will be quite a refreshing change in Philadelphia and one in which I think Eagles fans will embrace.
The signing of Felix Jones further shows Kelly’s seriousness about running the ball. He already had LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown as a pretty damn good 1-2 punch with a promising Chris Polk as the No. 3.
Most coaches would have just added a late-round rookie, UDFA or a first year no-name player to add competition and/or play the role of “camp body”, but Kelly has signed a guy with experience and whom has produced in this league.
Jones isn’t some no-name un-drafted free agent. He’s a former first-round draft pick with five years of NFL experience. He’s here to add depth to a backfield that figures to get a ton of work this season.
Yes, the Eagles got him for next to nothing money-wise, but he’s a proven veteran in this league. The difference between adding him and a guy like UDFA Miguel Maysonet is that Jones should be expected to produce at a certain level.
This means that Kelly wants solid production from his No. 3 RB, which in turn, means that he plans to run the ball….a lot.
In any case, the Eagles now have another versatile running back to add into the mix. Jones will have to compete for the No. 3 RB spot in the rotation and is not guaranteed a roster spot. But as far as No. 3 backs go, we could do much worse than a guy like him.
His presence will also help keep Bryce Brown focused as young players sometimes lose a little focus from their first to second year. Brown is the presumed No. 2 RB, and a guy like Jones right behind him should serve as motivation for continued improvement.
Injuries, fumbles and a questionable Dallas offensive line have derailed Jones over the past few years. However, he still has a career average of 4.8 yards per carry (with may be a little inflated given his 8.9 YPC in his rookie season).
He also has a healthy career average in yards per reception at 8.4, including a nice 10.5 YPC last season on 25 receptions.
When fully healthy, Jones still has the potential to be the explosive back that Dallas thought they were getting when they drafted him. He claims he is 100% healthy, and if so, is capable of making the big play and taking it to the house if given a crease.
He also brings some experience as a kick-off returner where his career average is just about 24 yards per return on 64 attempts (with one TD).
The only real down side to this is, Jones just hasn’t been consistent. His stats have been in decline over the past three seasons. Injuries have had a lot to do with that, but they are also what kills a running back’s career.
Jones has to prove himself, but if he can recapture some of his earlier form, he could be a nice signing that will pay good dividends on game days. He just turned 26 years old and should still have good tread left on his tires.