November 07, 2017
In the Philadelphia Eagles' win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, a fired up Doug Pederson gave a post-game speech to his team, concluding with the team celebrating Pederson giving them the rest of the week off.
During that speech, Pederson seemed most pleased by the fact that his offense was able to run the ball on the No. 2 ranked rush defense in the NFL, while the Broncos could not run it on the Eagles' defense.
On the season, on average, the Eagles have out-gained their opponents on the ground by more than 70 yards per game. Here is a chart that shows "Rush yard differential," or the difference between rushing yards per game, and rushing yards allowed per game. As you can see, the Eagles lead the league in this metric:
|Team||Rush YPG - Offense||Rush YPG - Defense||Rush yard differential|
The Eagles, as you're very well aware, are 8-1, and thus they have had a lot of leads in games in the second half. That is going to result in more rushing attempts by the offense, and fewer rushing attempts faced by the defense.
Still, the advantage the Eagles have had in the run game so far this season cannot be overstated, and it has been a clear priority on both sides of the ball all season long.
Prior to the Broncos' matchup, offensive coordinator Frank Reich acknowledged that running against the Denver defense would be a major challenge, but emphasized that they still wanted to commit to running the ball.
"There are going to be some two- and three-yard runs," Reich explained, "but you have to still believe it and you still have to mix it in, even though it's tempting to want to say, ‘Why not throw it on every down when you've got a team that can defend the run this well?’ Your experience tells you, you just look at it over the years, you've still got to mix it up."
Defensively, stopping the run has been the clear No. 1 focus of Jim Schwartz all season long.
"Playing the run has been important to us, defensively, because when you can make that team one-dimensional -- look, people say that a lot of times, ‘make it one-dimensional' -- for us, it really is the case because it allows our pass rush to shine, so to speak, and it helps our coverage concepts," said Schwartz.
Here's a look at what the Eagles have done on the ground vs. their opponents this season:
|Rushing yards per game||136.8||66.4|
|Yards per attempt||4.4||3.6|
|Rushes of 20+ yards||12||3|
|Rushing first downs||65||29|
That is complete domination.
When you can win in the trenches, you can win consistently in the NFL, and that is exactly what the Eagles are doing in 2017.
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