Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How Ronnie Brown fits in

The Eagles today got their backup running back, signing Ronnie Brown to a one-year deal.

How Ronnie Brown fits in

Running back Ronnie Brown started all 16 games for Miami last year, carrying 200 times for 734 yards. (Tony Avelar/AP Photo)
Running back Ronnie Brown started all 16 games for Miami last year, carrying 200 times for 734 yards. (Tony Avelar/AP Photo)

The Eagles today got their backup running back, signing Ronnie Brown to a one-year deal.

According to Pro Football Talk, Brown's deal is worth $1M in base salary, plus incentives. So how does he fit in?

Brown, 29, started all 16 games last year, carrying 200 times for 734 yards. His 3.7 yards per carry were a career low.

He was not a big-play threat, with just one carry of 20+ yards all season. As a point of reference, LeSean McCoy had seven more total carries, and he piled up seven plays of 20+ yards.

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Brown averaged just 3.0 yards per carry in the second half of the season and failed to pick up more than 15 yards on any single carry in the final eight games.

Brown (6-0, 230) showed he can catch the ball, totaling 33 receptions for 242 yards.

He fills a need for the Eagles, who were without a backup running back, but don't expect Brown to be a big part of the offense.

Assuming Jeremy Maclin is healthy, the Eagles just have too many other weapons. Last year, Jerome Harrison had success when he got on the field, but he wasn't used much. From Weeks 9 to 15, Harrison had 19 carries in seven games (2.7 per game). Eleven of those carries came against the Redskins when the Eagles blew them out on Monday night. Take that game away, and it was eight carries in six games.

Harrison played seven snaps or fewer in every game except for the Redskins win and the season finale against Dallas when the starters sat.

In other words, as long as McCoy is healthy, don't expect Brown to get more than a handful of touches/snaps.

Brown's biggest strength, though, might be his blocking. While I can't say I watched every Dolphins game last year, Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the fifth-best blocking running back in the NFL in 2010 (McCoy was 21st).

Some people have asked me about the Eagles needing a short yardage back. I don't see it. McCoy was very good in those situations. He converted eight of 10 on 3rd-and-3 yards or fewer last season. Brown is bigger than McCoy, but he averaged just 2.2 yards after contact last season, per Pro Football Focus. That was 49th in the league. McCoy averaged 3.0 yards after contact (tied for ninth).

Also, I think it's a bit of a leap to say McCoy wore down last season. In Week 14 against Dallas, he set career highs with 149 yards and 9.3 yards per carry. In Week 15 against the Giants, McCoy averaged 6.4 yards per carry. He wasn't particularly effective against the Vikings or Packers, but Minnesota had a good run 'D' and Green Bay did too in the playoffs.

Overall, Brown is fine. He can carry the load if McCoy goes down for a prolonged period of time. Brown had 15+ carries five times in 2010. I don't think his addition is going to make Andy Reid want to run the ball more. And I don't see Brown taking carries away from McCoy. But if his blocking is as good as the numbers indicate, he can definitely be an asset in picking up the blitz and protecting Michael Vick.

The Eagles have filled quite a few of their holes. What's left? A linebacker or two could still be in their plans, and perhaps a right tackle. Asante Samuel's future, of course, could factor into their plans there.

Earlier today, I looked at Nnamdi Asomugha and whether he can fill the same role Charles Woodson had with the Packers.

You can follow me on Twitter or become a fan of Moving the Chains on Facebook.

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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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