“Absolutely. There’s no question about that,” he said.
Against the Cowboys, the Eagles turned in one of their best offensive performances of the season, coming away with points on six of 10 possessions. Foles dropped back to pass 35 times and handed it off 26 times for a 57 percent/43 percent split.
Of course, many of the same adjustments were made earlier in the season when Michael Vick was at quarterback. After the disastrous performance against the Cardinals, Mornhinweg and Andy Reid seemed to realize that the high-flying, big-play offense from past years would be unsustainable with this offensive line.
“Well, we’ve been able to run the ball pretty well,” said guard Evan Mathis. “I think that’s what helps make that balance is being able to run the ball.”
He’s absolutely right.
The methodical approach hasn’t worked for much of the season for a variety of reasons. Turnovers are probably the biggest one. But the inability to effectively run the ball on a consistent basis is another. LeSean McCoy averaged 3.3 yards per carry in a loss to the Steelers; 1.6 yards per carry against the Lions; and 2.8 yards per carry against the Falcons. He often had nowhere to go and was dodging defenders at or behind the line of scrimmage.
McCoy found more success against New Orleans (6.3 YPC) and Dallas (5.1 YPC). And as we pointed out with the All-22 earlier this week, right now, the Eagles’ offensive line is really doing a good job creating room for Bryce Brown.
“The easiest way not to put pressure on the quarterback is to stay out of 3rd-and-long, stay out of 2nd-and-long,” said right guard Jake Scott. “If you run the ball on first down, you get to 2nd-and-5, 3rd-and-5, 3rd-and-shorts. Those are easier plays for a quarterback. That’s our job is to help get him to those easy third-down conversions. Situations where you pass because you want to, not because you have to.”
The Eagles’ running game faces a huge test Sunday against Tampa. The Bucs are ranked second against the run, per Football Outsiders, allowing opponents to gain just 3.4 yards per carry (first).
WHAT YOU MISSED
In his latest mailbag, T-Mac talks Howie Roseman, Geno Smith and Michael Vick.
Could Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski be a sleeper coaching candidate for the Eagles?
Todd Bowles said Jim Washburn was never a problem for him.
An All-22 look at Foles’ performance vs. Dallas.
Greg Schiano inadvertently answered a question about Chip Kelly’s chances for success in the NFL.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Mathis broke down specific plays from the Dallas game with Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus:
As you can see from the image, Mathis got himself into perfect position, and then had the power to drive his man off the line of scrimmage and eventually right to the ground and out of the play. “It’s fun when the block is dominating enough to take a guy to the ground. It’s not as fun when the defender trips and falls while you’re blocking him. This first play above, I don’t take credit for him going to the ground because he tripped on my left tackle’s long, giraffe legs.” Though he may not get full credit for the pancake on the play, everything else about this block is exactly as it is drawn up, ensuring that a player who had a real chance of shutting down that run was neutralized.
SI.com’s Don Banks has the Eagles 29th in his power rankings:
Seems pretty obvious at this point that Andy Reid knows he fired the wrong defensive coach back in October. Juan Castillo wasn’t the problem. But perhaps the class-less Jim Washburn was. Good riddance to that guy’s weak act.
And finally, Emily Leaman over at Be Well Philly has a suggestion for the Eagles’ pre-game routine. You’re going to want to see what she has to say here.
We’ll hear from Andy Reid one last time before Sunday’s matchup.