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September 26, 2023

Eagles' identity on offense remains the same: run, run, run

The Eagles continue to be one of the best running offenses in NFL history.

Eagles NFL
0122_09142023_Eagles_Vikings_Swift-Hurts.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 14: A photo of D'Andre Swift #0 and Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles from the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 14, 2023 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. (Photo by Kate Frese/PhillyVoice)

It's too early in the NFL season to really decide if the Eagles are true Super Bowl contenders.

Yes, they are a perfect 3-0 and have handled some pretty good defenses led by Todd Bowles and Bill Belichick. And there are a lot of numbers to suggest they are pretty good in all three phases of the game (so far).

But there are also a lot of negative factors too — most notably a downtick in the play of Jalen Hurts, and costly injuries on defense. Both of those could change in either direction, as could a wide bevy of other things.

There is, however, one constant that has basically been the trademark of the Eagles under Nick Sirianni. As much as the youthful head coach seems like the kind of coach who'd love to air the ball out and be a big play offense, his team is still winning games the old fashioned way: running the ball, and running the clock.

Here's how Philadelphia's ground game measures up to the other 31 teams through 12 quarters of football in 2023:

CategoryStatNFL Rank
Rushing yards5572nd
Rushing attempts1131st
Rushing TD44th
Yards per rush4.95th
Rushing first downs371st
Time of possession36:232nd

Only the Ravens have run the ball more as a percentage of plays. Only the Dolphins have run for more yards (thanks mostly to their 70-point game). Only the Browns have possessed the ball longer.

The Eagles' total of 214 plays on offense is the third most in the NFL, behind the Patriots and Browns. In contrast to that, Philly's defense has been on the field for just 177 snaps, fewer than all but four NFL teams.

Yes, the Eagles linebacking corps is a little thin and their secondary is banged up. But the Eagles have shown time and time again that the best defense can be a good offense.

Rush yards557 (2)2,509 (5)2,715 (1)
Rush attempts113 (1)544 (2)550 (2)
Rush TD4 (4)32 (1)25 (1)
Yards per rush4.9 (5)4.6 (12)4.9 (4)
TOP36:23 (2)31:24 (5)29:45 (21)
Total plays214 (3)1,124 (5)1,075 (14)
Result?SB lossWC loss

We've already gone this far without mentioning the offensive line — which is probably the best in the NFL and has been for years. And the running backs, which change over each season but never seems to deter the production. Both groups are the reason for the promising statistics above.

This year it's been D'Andre Swift who has shone brightest, running for 309 yards (all of it in the last two games) with Jalen Hurts at 100 yards even and Kenny Gainwell at 97. With 185.7 yards per game on the ground so far, the Eagles are on pace to run for 3,156 yards, which is... a lot. The 2019 Ravens ran for 3,296 yards, the most all time. Only five teams all time have had 3,000 or more ground yards in a season.

While Hurts and DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown bring the star power, and the defense is second in the entire NFL in takeaways so far — it could be the less showy ground attack that puts this Eagles team on the map, and maybe even back in the Super Bowl.

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