Philadelphia Eagles Run Chippah Run


May 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running backs coach

Duce Staley

leads the running backs to the next drill during organized team activities at the NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles Run Chippah Run

The theme for the Philadelphia Eagles future is Run Chippah Run.  With the turnover debacle getting out of control, a backup quarterback playing and the Eagles no longer in a position to risk injury to that position, the starting offensive line getting as near to full strength as we’ll see this season, and with the weather turning colder, the path is obvious.  Run Chippah Run.

The Eagles schedule begins to toughen up, with the Eagles facing 2013 division winners Carolina Panthers and traveling to face the Green Bay Packers before returning home to face the Tennessee Titans.    Currently, the Panthers are rated 26th, the Packers are rated dead last, and the Titans are rated 28th at rushing defense.

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Couple that with the Philadelphia Eagles struggles early in the season but still eighth in the NFL at rushing offense, and you have the makings of an advantage.  Place the return of left offensive guard Evan Mathis alongside recently returned center Jason Kelce, and you have reformed one of the most dominant sides of an offensive line since the highly acclaimed paring of the Oakland Raiders tackle Art Shell and guard Gene Upshaw.

The Philadelphia Eagles use that tandem in much the same way.  In 2013, they led the National Football League in rushing, thanks to the tremendous production of running back LeSean McCoy and his 1,607 yards.   This year, that same McCoy is fourth with 622 yards rushing.   Despite being behind his 2013 output, McCoy is well on his way to a 1,200 plus year in rushing.

The difference this year is the workload does not rest on McCoy alone.  In 2013, McCoy’s rushing yards were augmented by the mobile rushes of quarterback Michael Vick and some surprising scrambles of quarterback Nick Foles.  In fact, 20% of the Eagles 2013 rushing yards originated from the quarterback position.  This year, a mere seven percent come from the quarterback.   The promotion of running back Chris Polk and the signing of running back Darren Sproles have added new dimensions to the Eagles running game this year.   By the mid way point a year ago, the Eagles were 3-5 and had rushed for 1,203 yards.   This year, they are just at 996 yards for the season.

But this season is different.   While the Eagles lost Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, tackle Dennis Kelly to injuries, and tackle Lane Johnson to a four game suspension, they also faced some of the best run defenses in the NFL.   They took on the San Francisco 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals, the Indianapolis Colts, and even the Washington Redskins.

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  • But where the season tends to balance itself out, the Eagles will find the schedule begins to soften for a rushing offense.  In the last eight games, the Eagles only face one defense rated in the top ten in run defense, the Seattle Seahawks.

    Last year, when the Eagles were in the hunt for post season, McCoy stepped up and declared that the offense could rest on his shoulders.   That might have been the end of it, except for the 119 yards average per game over the last seven games.

    With starting quarterback Nick Foles out, opposing defenses will surely try to rattle backup Mark Sanchez by blitzing and taking away the passing game.  The Eagles would be wise to counter that, and exploit their advantage, by committing to the run.  The Eagles have gotten to the midpoint in the season with a record of 6-2.  They’ve done so by emphasizing the passing game.

    Now, the team must rededicate themselves to the running game.   With a balanced offense, that invigorates the play action pass which adds to the confusion for the opposing defense.  Once that happens, defensive backs who were coyly laying back for the interruptions are now out of position and are either unable to make the play or unable to jump a route for an interception.  Up to this point, the Eagles have lacked continuity on the offensive line.  That should correct itself now, as without further complications the Eagles will be playing the same line for the rest of the season.

    The post season sprint begins tonight with the Panthers.  For the GMs out there, I’ll have a second part of the two part GM series posting after the game.   I will be curious to read comments on the next set of Eagles re-signings.