The Eagles let the Redskins hang around for a little too long Monday, but eventually, they blew them out 28-13.
Really, though, the Eagles controlled that entire game.
Earlier in the week, Doug Pederson showed just how self-aware he was when he went to the lectern for a press conference and joked that his play sheet included only running plays. But then for the second straight week, Pederson showed a commitment to the run and it worked.
One stat that caught my attention from the game was the time of possession. The Eagles controlled the ball for 39:19 to the Redskins’ 20:41.
Controlling the football and keeping opposing offenses off the field on defense has been a recipe for success for the Eagles under Pederson. Now, some of these stats are sort of like the stats that say if a team runs the ball “x” times per game, they win. Obviously, when a team is up big, they run the ball.
But I think there’s really something to the idea of the Eagles’ being dominant when they control the ball.
Check out some of these numbers:
• Since 2016, the Eagles have held the ball for 39-plus minutes in five games and they’re 5-0 in those contests.
The next closest teams on the list have played just three such games. And just six other NFL teams have held the ball more than 39 minutes in a game more than once since 2016.
• The Eagles lead the NFL in time of possession this season at 6:31:13. The Eagles are averaging just 5.5 yards per play and haven’t had big plays this season, but the idea of being able to hold the ball is still good.
• Since Pederson became the coach in 2016, the Eagles have led the NFL in TOP with 23:54:31. They’ve held the ball 53 minutes longer than the next closest team (the Saints) during that span!
• This is such a departure from the philosophy of the previous regime. During the Chip Kelly years (2013-15), the Eagles were dead last in TOP with 21:06:47. Everything was about scoring quickly, which put tremendous (and unnecessary) stress on the defense.
• Since 2016, the Eagles are 11-4 when they hold the ball for at least 35 minutes. Two of those losses came this season to the Panthers and the Bucs. The Eagles were 5-0 in those games last season.
The Eagles did it the right way Monday. Would they like to sprinkle in a few big plays? Absolutely. They haven’t had enough big plays this year.
But running the ball and having a balanced attack while giving Jim Schwartz’s unit a break simply works. The Eagles’ defense played just 45 snaps Monday, which allowed guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett to play almost the entire game.
On Monday, the Eagles had 28 first downs and the Redskins had just 10. It was the first time the Eagles had done that in a game since 2008.
Maybe some folks expect Pederson to revert to pass-happy ways, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think he realizes the benefit of having a balanced attack. But either way, the Eagles have shown they’re going to hold the ball. It’s a recipe that has seemed to work for them over the last few years.
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