Philadelphia Eagles need efficiency in running game on Sunday
The Philadelphia Eagles will need more efficiency in the run game if they want to make a push for the playoffs.
Hey, a win’s a win! The Philadelphia Eagles picked up their first win of the 2017 NFL season against the Washington Redskins this past Sunday. The fact that this was a divisional win makes it all the more sweet. Still, it wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination. One of the glaring issues that needs to be fixed is the ground game. If the Eagles want to make a strong push for the postseason, they are going to need to establish one.
Players to make it happen
The Eagles have the talent on the roster to establish a legitimate rushing attack. The team signed LeGarrette Blount in the offseason to go along with Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Then, they drafted Donnel Pumphrey and added undrafted free agent Corey Clement.
The Eagles have an offensive line that is supposedly one of the best in the NFL. On paper, the Eagles should be able to have a consistent rushing attack. Against the Redskins though, it seems that they struggled to find any kind of rhythm.
The Eagles’ offense attempted 39 passes compared to only 24 rushes. When you remove the four rushes from Wentz, the team finished with 20 called run plays. The lion’s share of those carries went to Blount, but as a team, the Eagles finished with a 2.4 yard average on the ground.
No one expected these backs to come in and average six or seven yards a pop, but a four-yards-per-carry average is not outside the realm of possibility. Four yard runs put the team in second or third-and-manageable situations. That really opens up the playbook.
Gaining less than three yards per rush really puts the offense and coaches in a bind. Not to mention it’s just flat out embarrassing. This is just week one, and there’s time to make adjustments, but the signs from Sunday were not encouraging.
Where this will hurt down the line
As was mentioned above, the Redskins game was only the first of the year. After week one, speculation and over reaction runs rampant. Maybe the Redskins just had the Eagles’ number this week, and Philly will get things fixed in week two. The big concern is if this doesn’t get fixed and what it could mean for close games. A consistent rushing attack is great for keeping defenses honest and opening up the pass game, but a solid rushing game makes the biggest difference in the fourth quarter.
Here is a quick scenario. Say the Eagles are playing the Dallas Cowboys in a very close game. The Eagles are leading 21-20 and have the ball with less than two minutes to go. The Cowboys have one timeout and it is third and three. If the Eagles get the first down, the Cowboys will be forced to use that last time out. The Eagles would go into the victory formation and call it a day. The Eagles only average 2.4 yards per rush, but don’t want to risk a pass play. They run the ball, and they get stopped. That forces Dallas to use a time out to get the ball back. The Cowboys, then, drive down the field, kick a field goal and win the game. It’s a very likely scenario.
The Eagles need to be able to put close games away in the fourth quarter if they want to be a legitimate playoff team. A lack of a running game makes this incredibly more difficult.
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Time to get it fixed
Look, the first game of the year isn’t going to be perfect. Players are getting used to playing for a full 60 minutes, and coaches are trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The Eagles have plenty of time to fix their issues and they have the players/coaches to do it. The big thing here is if the lack of efficiency on the ground becomes a real problem. If it’s week eight or nine, and these problems are still obvious, then that will be time to get worried. For now, fans can enjoy being 1-0 and focus on the Kansas City Chiefs. Philly travels to Arrowhead Stadium for week two.