A2D Radio

The Philadelphia Eagles were down 17-3 to the New York Giants midway through the 3rd quarter on Monday night and were in desperate need of a spark on offense. Years ago, if the offense was in this type of predicament, it would be Darren Sproles who would provide a much-needed big play. However, with Sproles now past his prime and on injured reserve again, it was a different RB who came to the rescue this time. Second-year player Boston Scott, who compares similarly to Sproles, stepped up and infused life into the struggling offense.

Scott was drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and showcased his explosive ability in the preseason. Even though it wasn’t enough for him to stay on the 53-man roster, the Saints kept him around by signing him to their practice squad. After remaining there for most of the season, the Eagles snatched and signed him to their roster that December. At the time, the team was in desperate need of talent at the RB position and Scott was a shot-in-the-dark prospect who could fill a role.

The Eagles overhauled the position this past Spring by adding veteran Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders. With Sproles being re-signed in July and Corey Clement coming back from injury, Scott was looked at as a long shot to make the roster; and to start the season he didn’t. But after Clement suffered a shoulder injury in October, Scott was called up from the practice squad to take his spot. Aside from return duties and some garbage time reps, he wasn’t really utilized much with Howard and Sanders rotating as a one-two punch at RB.

That changed in Week 14. Howard missed another game while dealing with a shoulder “stinger”, Sanders had to exit the game for a short time in the 3rd quarter because of cramping, and recently re-signed hasn’t looked like the same runner he once was. That allowed Scott to show what he can do, and he took full advantage of it. He finished with 128 scrimmage yards (59 yards rushing, 69 yards receiving) and 1 touchdown on 16 touches and came up with several big plays throughout the 3rd, 4th, and OT periods.

It’s easy to take any RB that is 5’7” or shorter and automatically compare them to Sproles. Scott isn’t the first one to draw that comparison, nor will he be the last. Comparing a young player or prospect to a pro player is always going to involve a level of subjectivity because different talent evaluators see different things in each player. But the reasons why I’ve made the comparisons to Sproles since Scott’s rookie season go beyond just the short and stocky stature that they both possess.

The biggest similarity I see between the two is the way they run and their movements. As stated in my video breakdown above, Scott runs with short and choppy strides. When he makes cuts, he keeps his legs churning forward. Running like that sacrifices sharper cuts in favor of more rounded ones while minimizing the loss of speed throughout. Watch videos of Sproles or Scott and how they run in space. Then compare them to videos of guys like Sanders, LeSean McCoy, or Saquon Barkley who love to lower their hips, plant their foot with a wide base, and cut on a dime with very sharp angles. You can easily see the difference in their running. Neither style is necessarily “better” than the other, they’re just variations. Both are effective in their own ways.

Both Sproles and Scott also run with more power than most people think. They have thick, stocky builds and are very strong when you look at them pound-for-pound. They’re best at going around or right by you, but they’re far from afraid from going through you too if needed. They’re not afraid of taking defenders head on.

Also, I honestly don’t believe Scott being signed by the Eagles last year with Sproles coming to the tail end of his career is a coincidence. Remember that Head Coach Doug Pederson has always held Sproles in high regard and loved using him as a major part of his RB rotation. When Sproles’ contract was up and he was a free agent in 2018, it was Pederson who was adamant about bringing him back. Also remember that General Manager Howie Roseman and the rest of the Eagles front office traded up in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft to select Donnel Pumphrey (I know, us Eagles fans don’t like to be reminded of him). Their plan for Pumphrey was to develop him so that he would become their next Sproles. They even did their best to groom Corey Clement to be that guy in 2017, but he’s shown that he doesn’t have the dynamic athletic ability to be the long-term answer for them. Therefore, the team continued to search for the right guy to fill Sproles’ role. They saw that potential in Scott.

As always, it’s important not to overreact to just one game. There are still things that Scott needs to work on and develop if he plans to fill the shoes of Darren Sproles. He has made questionable decisions on punt returns, he runs with some indecisiveness between the tackles at times, he’s still not as nuanced as a route runner yet, and he’s fumbled twice this year despite his limited touches. Having a big game against the lowly New York Giants is one thing; doing it consistently against good teams is another.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t find Scott to be the most intriguing “long shot” prospect the Eagles have added in recent years. Prior players like Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Josh Adams were adequate talents with limited upside. But Scott is someone who has caught my eye since his rookie season, and I’ve always felt like he could be a solid role player in the right offense. And while it is possible that this past game ends up being the best game of his career, it’s also possible that he develops into a real contributor for this offense, especially when he’s been under the tutelage of Darren Sproles himself. In comic books, a superhero will often pass on their mantle to a protégé once the time has come. In the case of the Philadelphia Eagles, we may be witnessing the passing of the mantle from Darren Sproles, aka “Mighty Mouse”, over to Boston Scott.