Analysis: The Eagles were going nowhere this season, and then they started running
One of the most pass-happy squads through the first seven weeks of the season, Philadelphia has gone from 2-5 to very much in the postseason race by committing to the run.
AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementIn the win over the Saints, Hurts had nearly as many rushing attempts, 18, as passing attempts, 24, and Philadelphia’s ability to trample New Orleans on the ground was particularly impressive because of that defense’s track record. The Saints came into Week 11 ranked first in the NFL in both fewest rushing yards allowed per game (72.9) and yards allowed per play (3.07), and their stoutness against the run
went back several seasons. That mattered little, though, against the new-look Eagles, who racked up their fourth straight game with at least 175 rushing yards and third in that span of over 200. Hurts is now a close second in rushing yards among quarterbacks to the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson (639-618), with the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen a distant third (383).
“We know we’ve been running the ball well, and it’s a little different [for defenses] when Jalen’s in there,” Sirianni, who previously was the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator,saidafter Sunday’s victory. “. . . You want to make them stop what you do well first, and that’s definitely what our goal was.” headtopics.com
The Week 11 win also featured the return of Philadelphia’s starting running back, Miles Sanders, who had 94 yards on 16 carries. Oddly enough, the Eagles’ abrupt pivot to the running game began just after Sanders suffered an ankle injury. In his absence, Philadelphia called up from its practice squad Jordan Howard, a six-year NFL veteran and member of the Eagles in each of the previous two seasons who has thrived in his latest go-round with the team.
AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementIf Howard’s unexpected contribution pleased Eagles fans, it had nothing on the fact that the team was finally starting to run the ball with anybody. Many of those fans had commented on Sirianni’s former pass-heavy emphasis by
cheering sarcasticallywhen Sanders was afforded a rare handoff during the loss to Tampa Bay. Flash forward a few weeks, and the Eagles are pounding the rock early and often against everybody.In an NFL season that has had its share of twists and turns, Philadelphia’s sudden — and successful — devotion to the running game is one of the most surprising things that has come to pass.
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