Jay Ajayi wasn't hurt Saturday night. So why did he barely play after a huge first quarter?
Ajayi dominated the first quarter of the Eagles' 15-10 playoff win over the Falcons at the Linc with seven carries for 49 yards. But after a one-yard carry a minute into the second quarter, he didn't touch the ball again until the third quarter.
After his hot start, he didn't even get on the field on the Eagles' last two drives of the first half.
LeGarrette Blount actually had more carries than Ajayi after the first quarter, but netted only 19 yards on nine attempts, although he did score the Eagles' only touchdown from a yard out in the second quarter.
Ajayi never got into a rhythm after his long layoff. He had eight carries for five yards after the first quarter and finished with 15 carries for 54 yards along with four catches for 44 yards, including a 32-yard catch and run that was the Eagles' longest offensive play of the game.
Head coach Doug Pederson said Monday he just wanted to get Blount some work. He also said he likes to go hurry-up after long plays and was unable to sub Ajayi while the offense was going with tempo. But there weren't any plays longer than 15 yards while Ajayi sat.
Pederson said the decision on which back to use rests with him and not running backs coach Duce Staley.
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"I ultimately control the personnel," he said. "Duce doesn't sub them. I'm the one calling the plays, so I call for those guys in particular situations, and a couple times when we broke off a long run or a pass particularly - it's a good time to go a little tempo. So whoever the back is at the time on the field, I just kept him in there.
"And [Blount] was heating up a little bit and we wanted to get him going as well and it's just the way it went."
Ajayi had 35 of the 86 net yards on the Eagles' only touchdown drive of the game.
After that second-quarter TD drive, the Eagles ran 15 times for 17 yards, not including three Nick Foles kneel-downs.
Pederson said all the backs know all the plays, but he just prefers different backs depending on what the Eagles are doing offensively.
Of the Eagles' 67 offensive plays, Ajayi played 29, Blount 20, Corey Clement 16 and Kenjon Barner one (see Snap Counts).
"The way it is set up is by design, by scheme design, a particular back might be good at a certain run scheme so we put that back in for that particular play," he said.