Eagles Need to Stay Grounded

The recipe for success is a heavy dose of Shady (source: SI)

At 2-4 the Eagles are going to have to thread a needle in their remaining 10 games to make the playoffs. Nine or 10 wins may be enough, but they have to be wins in the division and over rivals in the wild card hunt. So, obviously, this week vs. Dallas is as big as it gets.

I've always felt the criticism of Andy Reid over run/pass ratio was a bit oversimplistic and exaggerated and situations (and personnel) often dictated that they pass more. But the best plan going forward now is to run the ball more. Why?  Put simply, a better run/pass balance minimizes the number of hits Michael Vick takes, while also maximizing the number of touches given to their best player so far in 2011– LeSean McCoy. Plus, more running plays can hide some defensive weaknesses by reducing the number of snaps for the defense.

Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but we don't need to overthink things here.

Yes, I know with the weapons in the passing game, running the ball 25-30 times is about as appealing to Reid as a salad, but at this point it's a necessity.  Below is a breakdown of the Eagles play selection and the number of opponents' total plays per game so far.  Passing plays include all called passing plays (sacks and QB scrambles) and running plays exclude kneel downs. 


Week 1 vs St. Louis – 41 called passes/21 called runs, 66 total plays for Rams

Week 2 vs Atlanta – 42 called passes/25 called runs, 61 total plays for Falcons

Week 3 vs NY – 37 called passes/35 called runs, 51 total plays for the Giants 

Week 4 vs SF – 56 called passes/12 called runs, 61 total plays for 49ers

Week 5 vs Buffalo – 46 called passes/14 called runs, 63 total plays for Bills

Week 6 vs Washington – 37 called passes/32 called runs, 53 total plays for Redskins


As you can see, more running plays for the Eagles means less total offensive plays for the opponent. Simple, effective. With the fluky big plays allowed and their abysmal short yardage offense, the Giants game is a bit of an aberration, but otherwise, the formula was relatively successful for the Birds. Last week vs. Washington should the offensive blueprint going forward.

You may recall, when faced with similar situations in 2003 and 2006, the Eagles did adjust and run the ball more. They started 0-2 in 2003, with a weaker defense than in the past (no Douglas, no Trotter, injuries to secondary) and McNabb playing poorly with a thumb injury. That's when they put Brian Westbrook in the starting lineup and used the three-headed monster with Westbrook, Duce Staley, and Correll Buckhalter the rest of the season– with much success. And then again in 2006, McNabb was lost for the year with a knee injury in week 10 and the defense was playing poorly. So they decided to start running the ball more with Westbrook and Buckhalter. That allowed Jeff Garcia to manage the game, which limited the number of defensive snaps. 

The adjustments worked.

From the point they made these tweaks, they ended both regular seasons on a combined streak of 17-2 (12-2 in 2003 and 5-0 in 2006). I don't know if the 2011 Eagles are capable of putting together that kind of streak in their last 10 games, but if they do, it will likely be because they are running the ball more often. And, you know, keeping Vick alive.


18 Responses

  1. Kyle, while I’m sure the Eagles appreciate your insight. Clearly you haven’t addressed the fact that they all need to do a better job. And that wonderful intellegent genius coach of there’s knows what it’s going to take to win. Cause any win in the National Football League is a good win. Anf running is for skinny people, who don’t appreciate ham sandwiches

  2. Ok its been 12+ years now and we are still trying to understand why Reid doesnt like to run the ball.. he just doesnt. and he wont. end.of.story.

  3. Lets be honest, this division sucks. At 9-7 it is not out of reason to think one of these teams can wint he division. So to say 9-10 wins is a bit far fetched.

  4. Shady=20 carry a week minnimum. Period. Reid knows how to run the ball he’s just too damn stubborn. Remember Duce Staley? He used to feed that man constantly in McNabb’s youth. Let’s get back to that Andy! Make those safeties play honest and come inside the box. With DeSean and Mac’s speed, that spells deadly play action game.
    Washburn was too stubborn to stop using the wide 9. Through 5 games, Eagles had the worst rushing defense in the league. Two weeks ago they stopped using the wide 9 on rushing downs. I think the Skins’ gained less then 50 yards. Sometimes you have to admit that you’re scheme is not working, put your pride aside, and adjust accordingly.

  5. 12 touches is all Shady got in that home playoff against Green Bay last postseason.
    Reid will just never learn.

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