Eagles to continue with a backfield by committee approach
By Zach Aulakh • Philadelphia Eagles • Jay Ajayi • LeGarrette Blount • Wendell Smallwood • Nov 2, 2017LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) runs with the ball during the NFL match between the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium on October 1, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)
- The Philadelphia Eagles confirmed that they would be maintaining a backfield by committee approach following their acquisition of former Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi on Tuesday. Head coach Doug Pederson added that Wendell Smallwood’s role would remain unchanged.
- The Eagles now boast one of the most impressive backfields in the league; Jay Ajayi is currently PFF’s sixth-graded running back, having achieved an overall grade of 83.0 so far in 2017, largely thanks to his impressive running grade of 86.0. Meanwhile, LeGarrette Blount has also been dominant as a ball carrier this season and is PFF’s No. 1 most elusive running back in the league thus far.
- However, both Ajayi and Blount have been far less productive as pass catchers, earning receiving grades of just 36.6 and 66.7 respectively. Ajayi has forced 23 missed tackles as a runner but only one as a receiver, hurting his overall elusive rating. He also has three drops on 17 catchable balls and ranks dead last among qualifying running backs with 0.46 yards per route run. Blount, meanwhile, has barely been utilized in the passing game, having been targeted just four times.
- Since losing Darren Sproles for the season, Wendell Smallwood has been used as the Eagles primary third-down running back and has achieved a healthy 1.13 yards per route run. However, he has struggled as a pass blocker, allowing four hurries and a sack on 19 pass-blocking snaps. Pass blocking will continue to be an area to watch as Blount, Smallwood and Ajayi rank 43rd, 44th and 45th respectively in pass-blocking efficiency among 46 qualifying running backs.