The Philadelphia Eagles started sluggish Sunday before turning on the after-burners in a 32-27 victory over Washington. Down the stretch, they pissed off a Hall of Famer that you probably don’t want to upset.
The Eagles had the game wrapped up late in the fourth quarter yet refused to feed their presumed workhorse running back, Jordan Howard. They continued to drop back and pass the ball, and handed it off to veteran Darren Sproles to secure Doug Pederson’s fourth straight opening-day win as head coach.
Howard was supposed to be their closer, the guy that eats up the clock and churns out short yardage when the game is out of reach. The decision not to feed him upset none other than O.J. Simpson. He sent the Twitter world wild by proclaiming: “Even management should be held accountable!”
“Hey, Twitter World, yours truly. Doin’ pretty good on Opening Day. I would be doing a little better if those coaches in Philly would’ve been giving Jordan Howard the ball a little more,” Simpson posted, transcribed via Crossing Broad. “The man averaged 7 yards a carry. You were trying to protect the lead at one point. Give the man the ball. Run that clock out.”
Simpson’s main motivation in calling out the Eagles was because he drafted Howard on his fantasy football team. This should shock no one.
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Hey, does anyone remember the “O.J. Simpson Bowl” back in 1968? It was a historic — or historically forgettable — game between the Steelers and Eagles with implications on which team would get the No. 1 overall pick in the following year’s draft. The best player in college football was Simpson. Spoiler alert, the Eagles didn’t get it.
The Eagles Backfield Situation is Complicated
O.J. Simpson made an interesting, although misguided point, about the Eagles rushing attack. Yes, Jordan Howard was brought in to be the ground-and-pound back. But Doug Pederson is fond of riding the hot hand.
Darren Sproles was juking and jiving his way for nice gains, none prettier than that scrappy two-point conversion run. Rookie Miles Sanders was also slashing his way for positive yardage. (Side note: did you see the way he picked up the blitz? Sanders twice annihilated Redskins pass-rushers to protect Carson Wentz).
Pederson ran a balanced offense that included giving Sproles nine carries for 47 yards, along with six touches for Jordan Howard (44 yards) and a team-high 11 rushes for Sanders (25 yards). Alshon Jefferey was featured in a pitch-and-run that he took in for a touchdown. Jeffery now has 14 red-zone touchdowns since 2017 and trails only DeAndre Hopkins and Devante Adams.
Carson Wentz even ran four times for five yards. The Eagles’ backfield will very much be a random rotation decided on a week-to-week basis. It’s something offensive coordinator Mike Groh alluded to last week.
“We know that we want to get everybody involved. We got a lot of capable guys in the running back room,” Groh told reporters. “It will be a little bit of an evolution, but we want to try to get those guys involved in the game, just like we’ve done over the last several years.”