You’re not the only one who’s relieved Nick Sirianni came to his senses.
Just ask the offensive linemen what they think about the Eagles' new-found reliance on the running game.
“Love it,” Lane Johnson said Wednesday. “I think when you do that, you control the game clock, time of possession, it makes play action a lot easier, it limits their pass rush. So really when you’re able to run the ball it makes the game a whole lot easier rather than throwing it 50-something times.”
The first seven games of the season, the Eagles averaged 37 pass attempts and 23 rushing attempts. The last two weeks, they’ve averaged 17 pass attempts and 43 rushing attempts.
They’ve gone from one extreme to another, and you don’t hear anybody on the offense complaining.
“Feels good,” Johnson said. “Last two weeks have been a step forward for our offense and I feel moving forward guys are going to try to stop the run and try to limit us doing that, so if that happens we’ve got to find ways to adapt, but still we’d like to stick with what’s working.”
Sirianni has hinted that he’d like to stay closer to the current percentages than the out-of-whack numbers from earlier in the season.
If he wants his linemen to be happy, he’ll stick with the run.
“I think the most important thing is to put respect on our name that we can run the ball, and that in itself will protect everything - pass game, play-action game, screen game,” Jordan Mailata said. “So I think we’re doing a great job knowing our assignments and just trying to dominate the guy opposing us.
“It helps us a lot with that aspect of the game, protecting our gameplan, and I think the boys are doing a hell of a job.”
By “protecting the game plan,” Mailata means when you establish the run it opens up the entire playbook because now defenses don’t know what’s coming next.
“We’ve been running the ball really well the last two weeks and that’s something that we want to keep trying to do,” Dallas Goedert said. “Anytime you can run the ball like that, it puts the linebackers, the whole defense, in a conflict, including the defensive line, whether they should try to rush and stop the run or if you’re going to pass, play action out of it.
“It just opens up a whole other dimension to the game, and it’s hard to run play action if you’re not running the ball, so to be able to get the play action game going it’ll be big for us.
For the sake of comparison, the Eagles averaged 7 rushing first downs the first seven games and 16 the last two. They were 40 percent on third down the first seven games, and they’re 59 percent the last two. They averaged 26:07 time-of-possession the first seven games and 31:42 the last two.
It makes a difference.
The better you are at running, the more it helps your passing game. The more it helps the entire offense. There are so many reasons to commit to it.
And a big one is certainly to keep the offensive linemen happy.
“When you can run the ball, you can do a certain amount of things – inside, outside, mid-zone, toss crack, stuff like that, mix it up - and it makes the game a lot more sound for us,” Johnson said. “And we’re trying to do what we’ve done the last two weeks. Establish the run.”
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