Darren Sproles handoff

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Pederson correctly used his RB's in Week 1

Andrew Porter
September 13, 2018 - 10:15 am

A lot has been made about the Eagles' running back usage in the team's season opening 18-12 win over the Falcons. 

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Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles both played in 29 snaps, while Corey Clement saw just 13 snaps. Ajayi had 15 touches, Sproles 9, and Clement just five. 

The consensus is: "More Ajayi, more Clement, and less Sproles."

But not me. I am hoping Doug Pederson continues to deploy his running backs this exact way. 

Sproles—even at 35 years old—is the Eagles' most explosive play maker, other than maybe Nelson Agholor. He needs touches. Five carries and seven targets (21.8% target share), his Week 1 usage, is right around where Sproles should be averaging...if not more. Sproles tallied 32 of the team's 232 yards of offense in his first game back from an ACL tear without any preseason snaps. The Eagles only recorded 119 total passing yards, as Dan Quinn and the Falcons are known for keeping things in front of them. 

There are not many players on the Eagles' offense that have a chance to take it the distance on every play. Sproles needs the ball. 

Ajayi, 25, has dealt with lingering knee issues his entire career and he is an unrestricted free-agent after the season. If the Eagles plan to re-sign the former fifth-round pick, it's probably a good idea not to run him into the ground. But even if they plan to move on from Ajayi after the season, you still can't run him into the ground if you want to compete for another Super Bowl. 15-18 carries seems like the sweet spot for Ajayi. 

Clement is entering his second NFL season. The 23-year-old running back was undrafted out of Wisconsin (At 5'10", Clement ran a 23rd percentile 4.68 40-yard dash at the combine) last season and had an incredible Super Bowl performance, catching four balls for 100 yards and a touchdown. But while it was a great performance, it was one game—a game that saw over 1,100 yards of offense! 

Clement had 33 rushing yards on six postseason carries. Last season, Clement had 347 rushing yards on 79 carries, nothing special. 

Look, I know he helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl and is a Glassboro native. It's a good story. But are we sure he's good? Because I'm not. 

Ajayi is the workhorse RB on the ground, Sproles is the workhorse RB through the air, and Clement is an unproven, undrafted second-year backup RB.

I like the way Doug used his running backs in Week 1.