As is customary, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni made his early-week appearance on 94 WIP-FM’s highly popular Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team Show. There was much to discuss. How do we put this? The vibes are off.
Only in Philly could a 14-3 regular season be followed with a gloom and doom atmosphere. Some of the concerns surrounding the NFC’s top-seeded team are understandable however. Another win has given them a franchise record, but there are questions about this team’s readiness as we move toward what we hope is a Super Bowl run.
Nick Sirianni discusses the Eagles’ underutilized running game with Angelo Cataldi.
How is it possible that we’re even discussing issues with one of the best Eagles teams that has ever been assembled? Perhaps the answers are right under our noses. The questions are most certainly aplenty.
Though they own the aforementioned franchise record of 14 wins and a first-round bye in the coming postseason, this team clearly isn’t firing on all cylinders as it was a month ago. Play calling on both sides of the ball has been questioned. The Birds barely squeaked by a rival New York Giants team that was fielding its junior varsity, and on top of that, Jalen Hurts isn’t totally healthy.
The latter issue has led to the reintroduction of a dilemma we’re all tired of debating. Why won’t the Eagles run the ball more often and assist/protect their franchise quarterback?
"I’ll take you back to last year. After our loss against Tampa Bay, I want to take you into that meeting, take the fans into that meeting. The discussion was ‘Okay, we’re number one in rushing the football in the NFL, and we were number 23, number 24 in passing. We said to ourselves if we want to be the explosive offense and score the points that we need to, this needs to change. We need to be in the top 15. We need to still be the running team that we are. We still need to be a top-five running team, but we need to be a top-15 passing team to score the type of points that we know we need to score to do the things we need to do to win the division, to win playoff games, and so on and so forth."
Okay, we love Coach, but we have to hit the pause button there. Three errors can be found in that statement.
- What’s most important is putting the team in a position to win football games, and this team is clearly better and fielding a more dangerous offense when they run the ball effectively.
- Time of possession matters. Running the ball assists in that. If you haven’t noticed, the Eagles’ toughest contests have come when they’ve been taken advantage of in the running game. You can argue that’s why they lost to the Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys.
- Again, we’re aware that Jalen Hurts is injured right? It’s been said forever that a quarterback’s best friend is a strong running game. That has always proven to be true, and if Philly relied on the rushing attack more, it would help protect a wounded signal-caller that isn’t one hundred percent healthy.
Now, in fairness, Nick Sirianni is right about a few things. The offense finished among the top rushing teams (fifth in yardage, fifth in yards per game, and first in touchdowns). They also finished eighth in passing yards and ninth in passing yards per game. The offense has been explosive when it has clicked, but that’s why some are worried. Things haven’t clicked as of late, but building confidence through the running game can aid in that area.
Often, we’ve seen Philly turn to the running game as almost a last resort when the air attack isn’t firing on all cylinders, but again, because it can’t be stated enough, history has taught us time and time again that running the ball effectively assists the passing game.
Terms like ‘Stoutland University’ exist for a reason. We’ve long known of the brilliance of this offensive line. Perhaps it’s time for Nick Sirianni and the offensive coaches to rely on them, especially seeing as how some of the pieces, Landon Dickerson for instance, are better run blockers than pass protectors at this point in their careers.
Wins don’t need to be choreographed. Just do what works. Let the guys up front fire off of the ball and bully some people. It’s a simple theory. The results have always proven to be fruitful when that becomes the game plan.
Yes, Jalen Hurts and the offense got it done in Week 18. The defense did just enough. Jake Elliott and the special teams unit got it done. The Birds don’t win without those five field goal conversions. Those stops on the Giants’ fake field-goal attempt and onside kick were key, so again, maybe we could limit the criticism. Still, there’s a surefire way to help this Eagles offense gain some traction.
A win is a win, and ultimately, that’s all that matters at football’s highest level. Sure, there was some vanilla play calling and obvious attempts to do ‘just enough’ and get out of Week 18 healthy. Sure, the Eagles got the win that we were all seeking. That’s to be commended. Still, we could argue that there are easier ways to get the job done, and there isn’t anyone in the NFL that doesn’t know what this team’s strength is. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.