Not only did fans demand a win from the Birds against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers but they also requested that Jordan Howard would get the ball more than Miles Sanders. The die-hards were treated to both on Thursday night.
Head Coach Doug Pederson must’ve dusted off his old playbook from 2017 because the running game looked that good. The O-line looked as if they couldn’t be stopped, the lanes just kept opening up for Howard and Sanders.
Sanders sparked the Eagles in the first half with a huge kickoff return to put the team in position to score quickly in which they did. After being heavily scrutinized due to his two fumbles against the Lions, the young rookie kept his head high and put his best foot forward, literally and figuratively.
Miles Sanders rushed for 72 yards on 11 attempts. He also averaged 6.5 yards per carry thanks to that huge 30 yard run. As good as Sanders was, Jordan Howard was better. Howard did it all as he pulled off a hat trick with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Carson Wentz.
It was on the ground where Howard shined the most. The ability to break tackles and find the open lanes today showed why the team traded for him. Howard averaged 5.8 yards per carry while rushing for 87 yards on a team-high 15 attempts. The Eagles showed their trust in the young veteran and he rewarded them with a big game. Not only that, but Howard recorded a hat-trick of touchdowns, flashing versatility on a wheel-route in the second half to add a receiving score to his two on the ground. A breakout game, indeed.
The Eagles running abcks and offensive line all met up to discuss what’s going wrong.
“After the past few weeks, we got with them and explained what we were seeing and how we were blocking it and how they want us to block it, and how we want them to run,” Brandon Brooks said. “In the middle of practice, man, if we didn’t like the way it was ran? ‘Hey! This is where you need to run it, this is where we’re blocking it.’ I think we just held each other accountable. If we didn’t like how a play went at practice, we would start over. If we didn’t like the execution of a play, we would start over. If we didn’t like how a running back was running the ball or how we were blocking it for him, we would just do it over until we were all on the same page.”
Pederson may have found the antidote to the offense’s slow starts as the offense averaged 6.1 yards per carry against the Packers. As they prepare to host the New York Jets, Pederson has to take this game and continue to let his team roll behind the run game. In 2017, they were third in rushing, Thursday night showed why they need to let that be the focus of their game in 2019.
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports