With a full offseason with the Eagles under his belt, Jay Ajayi is “definitely going into camp as the No. 1 guy,” according to HC Doug Pederson. RBs coach Duce Staley has expressed similar sentiment, noting, “Jay is excited about being able to go out there and dominate and being able to be that guy.” Clearly, Ajayi seems headed for a “Usage” uptick, which could facilitate a RB1 bounceback given the Surrounding Talent and Coaching Scheme here.
Even post-camp and entering the 2017 regular season, Pederson declined to name a starting RB. Thus, the HC giving Ajayi the nod so early is the ultimate display of confidence — and sign Ajayi should expected his usage to rise significantly. This will remain a committee — Pederson noted as much with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles — but Ajayi seems headed for a larger, more consistent workload inside 2017’s second highest-scoring offense (29.0 PPG), especially at the goal line. Staley was impressed with how hard Ajayi prepared this offseson (contract year motivation, perhaps?), and believes this will translate into a more “workhorse” style role: “Just him being focused, coming in, knowing he’s the guy, knowing he’s the guy that’s going to step up there and just put everything on his back and ride with him.” With LeGerratte Blount removed and his coaches’ blessings, Ajayi seems set for heavy, valuable volume, behind the league’s best offensive line, amidst an incredibly explosive and creatively called attack. This makes Ajayi a steal in the early 40s.