The Eagles turned around their season after a worrying 2-5 start. They did so by going back to the fundamentals of football and relying on their running back group, something that helped lead them to the Super Bowl back in 2017. Confusingly, its place in the offense slowly faded away after that magical night.
Many blamed it on an owner who has been led to believe that his team needs a pass-heavy attack to win anything in the NFL. Sirianni’s offense started with that mindset and went down in flames quickly, stunting the growth of their “rookie” QB in the process.
It took an entire stadium of fans to bully the coaching staff and franchise into running the ball. Who would’ve guessed that they were right?! Since week 8, the Eagles have run the ball 386 times for 1,898 rushing yards while averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
For the season they sent a franchise record for the most rushing yards in a season by an Eagles team with 2,715 rushing yards. They broke a record that was set in 1949 when that Eagles team rushed for 2,607 yards during a 12-game season. According to Philly’s own Reuben Frank, the Eagles are the only team in NFL history to have 5 players with a minimum of 50 carries and a 4.3 yard per carry average or higher.
How impressive is that? As a collective unit, they all did their part and more. From top to bottom here are the averages in yards per carry including the team QB:
Jalen Hurts 5.6 YPC
Miles Sanders 5.5 YPC
Jordan Howard 4.7 YPC
Boston Scott 4.3 YPC
Kenny Gainwell 4.3 YPC
While the Eagles had one of the easier schedules in the NFL, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that they still ran the ball against some impressing defenses including the #1 run defense in the NFL at the time, the New Orleans Saints. They took down the Saints 40-29 while not having a single passing touchdown. Jalen Hurts scored 3 rushing touchdowns while rushing for 69 yards. Miles Sanders ran the ball 16 times for 94 rushing yards and Jordan Howard ran the ball 10 times for 63 rushing yards.
The Eagles ran the ball 50 times for 242 yards while averaging 4.8 yards per carry against the best-run defense in the NFL. The efficiency of how the team runs could come from the abilities of their dynamic backs but truly the praise needs to go to the incredible offensive line. The agility and athletic ability of the linemen have paved the way for the Eagles to make the playoffs.
Now the Eagles will face their toughest test yet. They’ll be taking on the defending champs down in Tampa in hopes of surviving and advancing to face the Packers in the next round of the NFL playoffs. The last time these teams faced off was back in week 6, where the Bucs took down the Eagles in Philly by a score of 28-22. The defense held the Eagles to only 100 rushing yards that day but this was two weeks before the birth of the Eagles run game.
While the defensive line of the Bucs is a stout group led by Vita Vea, they aren’t invincible. The Eagles will be facing a defense that has allowed 4.8 yards per carry in the last eight weeks of the regular season. During that span, they’ve allowed 106 rushing yards per game as well. It won’t be easy for the Eagles to take advantage but it’s there for the taking.
If the Eagles can stick to their strength and not try to dramatically change the offense then they may be able to dethrone the Bucs. Win or lose, what this coaching staff has done in the run game is something that deserves a round of applause followed by a standing ovation and a Jason Kelce speech!
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire