Eagles Wake-Up Call: Gunning For A ‘Dominant’ Run Game
“I want to be more dominant,” said McCoy on Thursday upon arriving at camp. “The last few years I’ve had good years but I also have to be dominant, especially in this offense with the ability to run the ball more, where I can kind of take over a game. There have been flashes of it in the past but I have the ability to do it day in and day out, game in and game out. I think it’s a different story. Chip has shown that he runs the ball tons.
“Kind of getting back to that old stage where I’m used to taking over a game. I think with all the talent and the supporting cast around me, that should be easy.”
Maybe not easy, but the ingredients are there.
Kelly did run the ball “tons” at Oregon, as McCoy suggested. Last season, the Ducks averaged 53 rushing attempts per game compared to 29 pass attempts. Kelly boasted a 60-40 run-to-pass ratio in four seasons with the Ducks. That ratio will almost certainly come down some on this level, but Kelly has every reason to lean on the run this season in particular. This group of backs could very well be one of the team’s greatest strengths. Meanwhile, the quarterback situation is unsettled. Why not pound it to ease the strain?
The talent is there, the commitment to the run should be there. The last piece to the puzzle is a healthy offensive line. There are no guarantees on that front, though new O-line Jeff Stoutland provided an encouraging report Thursday morning.
“In the OTAs and minicamp you would never know Jason Peters was hurt,” said Stoutland. “That’s the truth. [Jason] Kelce we had to limit. He’s 100 percent right now the way he’s moving out there. And Todd [Herremans], I didn’t even know Todd was hurt to be honest with you.”
A long way to go before we can declare that this O-line will operate without restriction. If it can, McCoy has a good chance of achieving his goal.
“I think that our running game,” said Herremans, “should probably be second to none.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Jeremy Maclin is definitely aware of the deals other receivers are getting around the league.
DeSean Jackson talks QBs, rap and more.
Ted Williams says this offense will look like Oregon’s.
Nick Foles versus the legend of Michael Vick.
Stoutland and the “fellowship of the miserable.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Dan Graziano makes a prediction on the total number of Eagles wins.
If nothing else, Kelly should be able to keep the players more interested and invested in the second half of the season than a lame-duck Andy Reid was in 2012. I expect growing pains, especially on defense, and I don’t expect this team to contend right away. But I’d be surprised if the Eagles were picking fourth in the draft again next spring. Reserving the right to change my mind as we get closer to the season, right now I’ll say they win six.
Chris Brown of Grantland wrote a good piece exploring the sudden popularity of the read-option in the NFL, and the league’s mad scramble to solve it.
Requiring safeties and other typically pass-first defenders to spend so much time focused on the running game is dangerous in the pass-heavy NFL. Last season did prove, though, that keeping safeties deep and being repeatedly gashed by the run is not much of an answer, either. “The zone read is something I learned throughout … the year that I think really helped us. It’s the least pass rush I’ve ever seen as a coordinator. Guys just sitting there just scared to death just watching everyone else not moving,” said Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan recently. “I go crazy thinking about blitzes every week, how we’re going to pick all this stuff up. About halfway through the year I’m starting to realize that we’re not getting any of these blitzes that I used to see.”
But that doesn’t mean NFL defenses won’t blitz much this season. I fully expect defensive coaches to be far more aggressive against the read-option this fall, although — unlike many of their schemes last season — those blitzes must be “option sound” and have defenders schooled in the proper techniques assigned to each potential runner. The read-option doesn’t eliminate blitzing, but it does eliminate some of the crazier blitzes — five defenders to one side or three defenders in the same gap — that had caused problems for traditional attacks.
First full-squad practice of training camp comes your way at 12:30. We’ll have it covered for you.