Duce Staley says the Eagles’ goal is to “impose our will”
The Eagles are intent on making sure Carson Wentz doesn’t have to do as much as he did a season ago.
One of the darkest days in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles started with 60 of the most exciting seconds a game could start with. It was the 2002 NFC Championship Game, and it was the final game that would be played in Veteran’s Stadium. Brian Mitchell took the opening kickoff, dashed into opposing territory and set the Eagles up with a first down on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ 26-yard-line.
That was followed by a quick pass over the middle to Duce Staley for six yards. Then, on 2nd down, Staley took the handoff, and as the familiar “Duce” chant would crescendo into a deafening roar, he shed two tacklers and strutted his way into the end zone. The Eagles were up 7-0 just 52 seconds into the game following the extra point.
Unfortunately, the Buccaneers took control after that, and they went to the Super Bowl.
Fast Forward to the present:
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Staley is now the team’s running backs coach and his job is to make sure his guys are ready to take control during the 2017 season. Recently he spoke on that very subject via ESPN. “Doug (Pederson) communicated it himself. He talked about running the ball. ‘We’re not bringing these guys in here just to sit them up on the shelf. We want to run the ball and we want to impose our will.’”
Newly added LeGarrette Blount had his best season a year ago, helping the New England Patriots to a 3-1 start while future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady was serving a suspension. Blount was a focal point of the offense during that stretch and would remain firmly in the Patriots gameplan all the way to the end when he and his teammates hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the fifth time in team history.
Controlling the time of possession:
Staley discussed the problem Blount figures to create for opposing defenses. He echos head coach Doug Pederson‘s sentiment of wanting to see the ground game impose its’ will on opponents. “I’m pretty sure those safeties will think twice about hitting him.” In addition to Blount, the Eagles figure to go into the NFL season with Darren Sproles, rookie Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood. The goal will be putting less on the shoulders of Carson Wentz than what we saw a season ago.
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Undrafted free agent Corey Clement is in the fold as well. He’s a guy nobody is talking about (but they should), and if he has a good training camp, no one should be surprised if the Eagles march into the 2017 season with five running backs on the roster. One thing’s certain. This unit doesn’t look to be as desperate for help as they were during the 2016 season.