It hasn't been easy sledding for running back DeMarco Murray. A new team, a new town, a new offense and numbers that only in the last couple of weeks have headed in the right direction.
"I've always been comfortable, but every day, every week it's definitely something that you have to continue to work on and continue to make sure you are staying sharp on the inside zone and outside zone and whatnot," Murray said on Friday. "I think every day you have to take it upon yourself to work on different things and make sure you are very comfortable throughout the week.
"I definitely feel like it's coming together. It's a lot of new pieces -- quarterbacks, receivers, running backs -- I think the scheme is definitely a fit for all of us. Everyone has continued to work together. Everyone is still figuring each other out, but I think we're heading in the right direction and I think that every day, no matter if you've been in an offense for five years or one year, I think you have to continue to gradually get to know each other, continue to gradually work on the little things and make sure you're crisp and sharp on Sundays."
Murray was crisp and sharp on Sunday as the offense revved into high gear with 39 points and 519 total net yards. Murray contributed 120 of those yards on 27 touches with 83 rushing yards and 37 yards in the passing game. It was the kind of game everyone has hoped would happen for a running game that churned out 186 yards.
It's progress. It's encouraging. An offense has struggled to find consistency and rhythm moved the ball up and down the field against New Orleans, and only two red-zone giveaways and some misses on a pair of fourth downs kept the Eagles from scoring more than 50 points, at least.
Murray showed good power and speed to the edge in the game and he had a here-I-am, now-I'm-gone move to convert a third-and-1 play in the hole. If, indeed, the performance was a building block for Murray and for the offense, then we're in for some really good times. The offense has all kinds of capabilities and Murray, of course, is a critical component in all phases of the attack -- including the all-important task of pass blocking. Murray takes pride in that aspect of his job description, and he does it well.
The overhaul of the offensive backfield was a central theme to the offseason and the truth is that it's taken some time to get everyone on the same page in the offense. Murray has been sharing the carries with Ryan Mathews, as anticipated, and while Murray expressed a smidgen of frustration a couple of weeks ago when he said he wanted the ball more, he was just telling the truth. He wants the ball more. The receivers want more catches. The coaches want more first downs. It's no big deal.
And no matter how much the narrative is out there to turn Murray/Mathews into some kind of controversy, it's just going to happen. Both are competitors and both want the football and that's just how it is in the NFL. But Murray knows that Mathews is here to share the load and he's made that clear time and time again that he's cool with the situation.
Both are vital to the plan. Running backs coach Duce Staley sets the lineup, sprinkling in a dose of Darren Sproles to change the pace. The question for the backs through the first month of the season had nothing to do with workload; instead, it was about an offense that struggled just to stay on the field and gain first downs.
It has never been in the plan for Murray to approach his workload from 2014 when he carried 392 times and caught 57 passes for Dallas on the way to 2,261 yards from scrimmage. The Eagles wanted more of a committee approach in the backfield, depth to endure the long season and some interchangeable parts, and that's what they have with Murray and Mathews.
"I think he's run it great. He's a great running back. He's a tough guy to bring down," Murray said. "I think he's been doing well."
It's a team thing, anyway. The Eagles hope they've turned the corner offensively and that will ultimately mean more touches and more yards for Murray and Mathews and Sproles, for that matter. New York is the focus at the moment, and the Giants bring with them a sturdy run defense for Monday night. Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo comes from the Jim Johnson school of deception and he'll give the Eagles a lot of different look, a dose of pressure, many threats of a blitz but multiple coverages behind the alignments.
New York wants to take away Murray and pressure quarterback Sam Bradford and put the Eagles on their heels. It's going to be a coaching chess match, as it always is.
And Murray will be ready for the call, whatever that entails. There is no controversy. There is no frustration. There is, instead, progress, and that's something Murray and the offense are building around knowing that a win on Monday night puts the Eagles in a tie for first place in the division and some real momentum with two consecutive victories.