The Eagles are readying themselves for a clash with the high-flying Atlanta Falcons this Sunday..which presents quite a unique challenge for Doug Pederson and his Offense..but a challenge he will be well prepared for.
The Eagles backfield has been underwhelming so far this season and lacked a certain shape. Lead back Ryan Mathews leads the unit in touchdowns, but has been held to a goal-line role in recent weeks while Darren Sproles carries the workload and the combo of Barner and Smallwood battle it out for the remaining snaps.
Averaging just 4.0 yards per carry, the unit is averaging 23 carries and 37 pass attempts per game..and even though the Falcons have given up more passing yards than any team this season so far, Pederson knows that the birds have to find ways to support Carson Wentz.
“You don’t necessarily want to drop him back that many times.” Pederson told the media today after suffering a loss to the Giants in which Wentz threw 47 times.
“Their offense is one of the top offenses in NFL, so I think the run game becomes a bit more important.”
The last time that the Eagles opened up the floodgates on the run game and it was noticeable, was against the Steelers in week 3. A game in which they overcame the odds and stormed to a 34-3 win and the backfield rushed for a combined 125 yards rushing. Their second highest single game total of the season was also the game where both Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood rushed for their first NFL touchdowns.
The committee is something we could see much more of against Atlanta, with Pederson knowing full well the explosiveness that the Falcons Offense brings to the table. The Eagles Head Coach also emphasized that “Keepaway” and time of possession will be key in keeping the likes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones off the field.
“Both (Matt Ryan and Julio Jones) are playing extremely well right now.” Pederson told reporters earlier today. “They Gain that momentum as the game goes on, making play after play.”
If it’s damage limitation that Pederson seeks, utilizing a versatile committee backfield will be absolutely crucial. All four running backs will need to contribute and produce on the opportunities given, but it will also come down to Pederson’s in-game decisions and shaping of the backfield.
The new direction appears to be headed by Darren Sproles, but with three backs chomping at the bit to prove themselves and the perfect opportunity to try out new things in order to control the tempo of the game and keep Matty Ice off the field, we could finally see a complete performance from the backfield once again.