Don't Look Now, but the Eagles are the NFL's #2 Rushing Team
It feels like eons ago that frustrated Eagles fans were calling for Nick Sirianni to “Roll that Blount,” paying homage to the guys who pulled up in front of the NovaCare Complex a few years ago.
After run-pass optioning the fan base to death over the course of a fewgames, the first-year head coach came out in Vegas with a run-heavy attack, STUCK WITH IT, and has now grounded and pounded his way to three wins in the last four games.
Believe it or not, the Eagles are now the second-best rushing team in the NFL. Check out some of the league-wide numbers they’re posting:
- 153.4 rush yards per game (2nd)
- five yards per carry (3rd)
- 1,687 total rushing yards (2nd)
- 338 rushing attempts (2nd)
- 17 rushing TDs (tied 1st)
- 13 runs of 20+ yards (tied 1st)
- 108 rushing first downs (1st)
- 32 rushing first down percentage (1st)
They’re really mopping up across the board here, and it’s the Jalen Hurts running that’s putting them over the top. Individually, he’s leading the team with 618 yards and a 5.4 average. Then it’s Miles Sanders with 394 yards on a 5.0 average, Jordan Howard with 274 on a 5.4 average, Boston Scott with 221 on a 4.8 average, and rookie Kenneth Gainwell adding 155 on a 3.6 average. Jalen Reagor has chipped in 25 yards on five carries as well.
It’s a pretty balanced attack behind Hurts. Three touchdowns each for Howard, Scott, and Gainwell. Sanders got the raw end of the deal since he was the starter for the “we’re not running the ball” portion of the season, but got a decent workload of 16 carries in Sunday’s win against New Orleans.
For some historical context here, the Birds haven’t been a top-five running team since the Super Bowl year, and that was when they posted a 132.2 yards per game number. A full 21 yards fewer than what they’re averaging now. You’d have to go back to Chip Kelly’s first year and that 160.4 ground yards per game number to find the most recent total eclipsing what this team is doing. Shady McCoy was the NFL’s rushing leader that season.
It’s a little funny that the Eagles refuse to say that running the ball is now their identity. They think their identity is just being physical in general, and said this about it after the win:
“You guys have asked me a little bit about identity, and I can share with you what we talked about with our team — and I don’t think it’s about plays you call, or defenses you call, or special teams calls you call, it was about our team is close. It’s a close-knit group of guys that connect. It’s a physical group of guys and its guys that leave everything out there on the field.
That’s what we really talked about last night. You guys have asked me a couple times about identity, and what I just wanted to say to them is, hey, our identity is these three things that I just mentioned right there. That was really on display today.”
“We’re going to continue to attack, continue to play our game. I’ve always been asked about the identity of this football team. Early on in the season everybody is asking me the question. Whether I answered it or I didn’t answer it, I think identity is not being able to run the ball or ‘we’re a running team’, ‘we’re a passing team’, or ‘we’re a team that doesn’t give up big explosive plays.’ That’s not what identity is. Identity is a mentality. It’s a mentality, it’s an approach, it’s the detail you put in day in and day out throughout the week. It’s being physical, it’s wanting it, it’s effort. It’s all of those things. I think that’s what we want to be. That’s what we’re growing to and what we’re evolving into. It’s being a team that controls what we can and we know when we control what we can. We’re a dang good football team and it’s taken some growth, it’s taken a lot. And we’re still evolving, we’re still growing, we’re still learning from a lot of different things. We just want to continue to control the controllables (sic). Continue to connect with one another and know that everybody has each other’s backs out there in the field, and continue to move forward with that mentality of ‘rent is due everyday.’ That’s the identity of this football team.”
Call it whatever you want. They are running the football and winning games, and that’s what matters. Ground and pound baby. Roll that Blount.