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September 12, 2017

Eagles run game must improve

Without making too much of a small sample size, the Philadelphia Eagles' run game did not look impressive in their Week 1 win over the Washington Redskins.

The offensive line failed to open up many holes, and when they did, the Eagles' trio of running backs – LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles – were able to make defenders miss at the second level of the defense. On the day, the Eagles' backs combined for 20 carries, which went for 52 yards (2.6 yards per carry), and a long rush of just 7 yards.

 PlayerRush Yards YPC TD 
 LeGarrette Blount14 46 3.3 
 Wendell Smallwood1.0 
 Darren Sproles1.0 
 TOTAL20 52 2.6 

"Obviously at the end of the day, it's not good enough," said Doug Pederson. "The running game is not good enough. We pride ourselves on running the football here and we've got backs and linemen and tight ends, really, that can help us do that.

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"I think it's a shared responsibility. Some of it's the running back hitting the hole exactly where we need it. And then other times it's just sustaining blocks and combo blocks. We do a lot of zone schemes in this offense. So it's just a timing thing, too. So those are things we continue to work on each week and get better. The guys will look at this film and see the good and the bad, and obviously fix it and move forward."

It is perhaps worth noting that the Eagles' backs did not get a lot of work in the preseason games. Here are each of the Eagles' runners' numbers this summer:

Player Rush Yards YPC TD 
 LeGarrette Blount13 36 2.8 
 Wendell Smallwood28 7.0 
 Darren Sproles0.0 
 TOTAL17 64 3.8 

As you can see, the Eagles only attempted 17 rushes with their first team offense during the preseason, and none of those were specifically game-planned for their opponent.

While certainly less complicated and sophisticated than a passing attach, the run game can be rusty without usage too.

"Watching the film last night on the way home and then again this morning a couple times, we're close," Pederson said. "We're close. We just have to finish blocks, sustain blocks. There were a couple, and this always happens going into Week 1, there are always a few un-scouted defensive looks that they present that gave us some problems early. We made the corrections during the game, and had some success later in the game on some of the same runs. It's close. We've got to keep detailing it, keep working it, and just continue to get better."

Beyond just having a productive run game, the Eagles want to mix in a substantial amount of play action this season. That will be far less effective if they cannot knock the rust off the rushing attack.

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