All-22: Short-Area Burst, Reliable Hands Make Diminutive Scott Ideal Backup
The 2019 season proved to be a year of trials and tribulations for the Philadelphia Eagles.
While long-standing injuries turned prominent offseason acquisitions into mere afterthoughts, a resilient band of castoffs and reserves seamlessly stepped in and seized their newfound opportunities.
Second-year running back Boston Scott, buried behind Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams on the depth chart last summer, outlasted the latter two and resurfaced on the practice squad to start the season.
Despite his preseason production, Scott toiled on the “look team” in relative anonymity until a season-ending shoulder injury to Corey Clement prompted a promotion to the active roster.
The 5-foot-6, 203-pound runner appeared in 11 games last season — including two starts — producing 245 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 61 carries while establishing himself as a formidable option in the passing game, reeling in 24 receptions for 204 yards.
Scott’s signature performances came in two late-season outings against the rival New York Giants. The diminutive running back combined for 29 carries, 113 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in those two games, along with 10 catches for 153 receiving yards.
Scott, who served as an unlikely catalyst in spearheading an Eagles postseason berth, left a lasting impression on the organization. After Howard departed for the Miami Dolphins in free agency, the Eagles refused to hit the panic button.
Instead, the reigning NFC champions opted to move forward with Scott as a primary backfield component despite opportunities to fortify the position with a draft pick or accomplished veteran.
On the heels of his improbable rise, Scott enters his third NFL training camp firmly entrenched as the immediate backup to Miles Sanders. With Sanders poised for NFL stardom, Scott could feasibly be called on to shoulder roughly a half-dozen touches per game – still not bad for a prospect once considered a long shot to make an NFL roster.
With the spotlight on Scott magnified as we approach the 2020 campaign, let’s take an All-22 look at how he fared in those two divisional bouts against the Giants.
On this play, Scott’s decisiveness and vision are highlighted. As he takes the pitch, he starts outside but sees Jason Kelce coming around to pick up a charging linebacker David Mayo (55) and immediately cuts inside before turning it up the sideline for a 25-yard gain.
Scott’s pass-catching ability added another dimension to the Eagles’ offense during the stretch run.
Here, he catches a simple check-down, uses his short-area burst and twitchiness to shake cornerback Janoris Jenkins and another Giants defender, and gets upfield to finish the run.
A routine play that should have yielded minimal yardage picked up 17 yards, largely due to Scott’s elusiveness and acceleration.
On this play, the Eagles sport a jumbo package. Andre Dillard (77), aligned on the right side of the Eagles’ line, chips linebacker Markus Golden (44) before getting just enough of safety Michael Thomas (31) to spring Scott for an 8-yard run.
Despite his slight stature, this run exemplifies Scott’s ability to finish strong and stay upright to move the chains.
This next play demonstrates how Scott’s eyes and feet working in unison. Halapoulivaati Vaitai does an excellent job sealing off Davin Tomlinson (94), Matt Pryor gets to the second-level to cover Deonne Buchannon (29), and Scott finishes the run by bowling over safety Antoine Bethea on his way to the end zone.
Scott followed his blocks, stayed low to the ground, kept his balance and use his momentum to get into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown run – the first of three for him this game.
In the waning stages of the fourth quarter seen here, Scott reels in a screen pass on the left side and gallops for a 37-yard pickup.
Linebacker Lorenzo Carter (59) struggled to disengage from Isaac Seumalo and missed the initial tackle, followed by an egregious whiff by linebacker Golden (44). Scott does the rest, spinning away from free Bethea (41) in the open field before finally being taken down at the 2, settung up his third touchdown run of the game.
When assessing the Eagles’ roster, one of the biggest misconceptions is the team failed to replace Jordan Howard adequately.
While there’s likely to be a veteran signing in the coming weeks — strictly for competition — it’s evident the Eagles are intrigued by Boston Scott and envision a more prominent role for the third-year pro.
Former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, appearing on ITB TV, said he thinks Scott can be used more as a receiving weapon and also expects Doug Pederson to use more “pony packages” – two running backs in the backfield – to get Scott and Sanders on the field together.
“I saw a burst of energy [from Scott],” Westbrook said. “I envision a situation where you have Miles Sanders and Boston Scott in the game at the same time.”
Scott has proven himself to be an effective one-cut runner with explosive traits, exceptional vision, and remarkable contact balance in his limited sample size.
Scott’s ability as a pass catcher adds another layer to an offense that, if it unlocks full potential in 2020, could return to being a league juggernaut.
Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a contributor to InsideTheBirds.com. He also writes for Pro Football Network.
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