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Eagles vs. Washington Football Team: By the Numbers

Legendary NFL writer Paul Domowitch takes a look at the Eagles' mid-season shift to a run-first mentality.


All the numbers you need to know going into the Eagles vs. Washington game Sunday. / Photograph by Tim Nwachukwu / Staff via Getty Images

There is no mistaking the identity of the Eagles offense right now. They are a running, ground-and-pound team and have been ever since head coach Nick Sirianni flipped the script in early November.

Over the last six games, the Eagles have averaged a league-high 41.3 rushing attempts per game. They have had a 63.1 run-play percentage in those six games, compared to 38.9 in their first seven. They have run the ball on 71.4% of their first-down plays in the last six games, compared to 40.4 in the first seven.

They lead the league in rushing, averaging 160.0 yards per game on the ground. In the last six games, they’ve averaged 210.5.

The Eagles are facing a Washington defense Tuesday that, as of Friday morning, had 21 players on its COVID list, including 14 on defense. It won’t make any difference whether any of those 14 play or not. The Eagles still will be running the ball. A lot.

Before it was ravaged by positive COVID tests, Washington had one of the league’s better run defenses. They were fifth in rushing yards allowed (93.6 per game) and seventh in opponent rush average (4.0). In their last five games, they’ve allowed just 10 runs of 10 yards or more. The Eagles lead the league in 10-plus yard runs (63), including 27 by quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The Eagles have one of the league’s most dominant offensive lines and believe they can run the ball against anybody right now, particularly with Hurts, who is 16th in the league in rushing with 695 yards and tied for fifth in rushing first downs with 50.

Washington has done a pretty good job against mobile quarterbacks this season. The Giants’ Daniel Jones rushed for 95 yards on nine carries against WFT in Week 2, but it held the Bills’ Josh Allen to nine yards on four carries in Week 3.

The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes had 31 yards on three carries in Week 6 and the Panthers’ Cam Newton had 46 yards on 10 carries in Week 11.

But the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson ran the ball just twice against them (for 16 yards) and the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott had just 15 yards on seven carries in a seven-point win last week.

The Eagles are averaging 31.7 rushing attempts per game through 13 games. If they continue to average 40-plus carries in their final four games, they could end up averaging 34 rushing attempts for the year. The last time they did that was 1981 when Wilbert Montgomery and Co. averaged 34.9 per game

WASHINGTON’S RESURGENCE

  • Washington lost six of its first eight games, but finally found its footing in mid-November and has won four of its last five. Washington’s 27-20 loss to Dallas last week was the first time in the last six games that it has given up more than 21 points. The WFT’s biggest problem has been on offense where it has scored 22 or fewer points in seven of the last nine games. It is 2-5 in those seven games.
  • Washington has been outscored 35-77 in the first quarter this season. It has scored just seven touchdowns on its first three possessions.
  • Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who was the latest Washington player to be placed on the team’s COVID list Friday, had one of his poorest games of the season last week against the Cowboys, completing just 11 of 25 passes, averaging 4.9 yards per attempt, and finishing with a 55.8 passer rating.
  • Heinicke has 12 interceptions in 418 attempts. His 2.9 interception percentage is the ninth highest in the league.
  • With Heinicke and his backup, Kyle Allen, both on the COVID list, Washington’s three quarterback options for Sunday are Garrett Gilbert, who has one career start and 44 regular-season career pass attempts, and Kyle Shurmur and Jordan Ta’amu. Shurmur, son of former Eagles assistant Pat Shurmur, and Ta’amu have never played in an NFL regular-season game.
  • Washington, which is 18th in third-down efficiency (38.8%), converted just three of 14 third downs in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. In its previous four games, all of which it won, it converted 29 of 58 third downs (50.0%).
  • Washington running back Antonio Gibson is seventh in the league in rushing with 836 yards and Washington is 13th in team rushing (122.5 yards per game). But Gibson has six fumbles. He’s lost four of them, including one in the third quarter Sunday that the Cowboys converted into points.
  • Washington is 31st in third-down defense. Opponents have converted 48.8% of their third downs against The Football Team. Opposing QBs have a 120.6 third-down passer rating, including 14 TDs and just one interception.

But Washington’s defense has been much improved on third down during their recent resurgence. In its first eight games, six of which Washington lost, opponents converted 56.5% of their third downs (65 of 115). Opposing QBs had a sky-high 133.5 third-down passer rating that included a 70.6 completion percentage and 11 TDs. Forty-nine of 85 third-down pass attempts (57.6%) resulted in first downs.

In the last five games, though, opposing QBs have had an 85.7 third-down passer rating v. Washington, including a 45.0 completion percentage and just 13 first downs on 40 pass attempts (32.5%). Opponents averaged 5.24 yards per carry on third down in Washington’s first eight games. In the last five: 2.79.

MORE GOOD STAT STUFF

  • The Eagles defense is 29th in sacks with just 21. They’ve had only four in their last five games. Just seven of those 21 sacks have come from edge-rushers. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has been stuck on one sack since Week 5. That number could improve dramatically Sunday given Washington’s inexperienced quarterback options.
  • The Eagles gave up 12 touchdown drives of 75 yards or more in their first seven games. In their last six games, they’ve given up just three.
  • The Eagles ran 26 of 68 offensive plays (38.2%) from under center against the Jets, including 21 run plays (for 91 yards). Gardner Minshew completed four of five passes for 76 yards and a touchdown from under center. The TD was the 36-yard first-quarter completion to tight end Dallas Goedert. His other three completions from under center were to running backs – two to Kenny Gainwell (for 28 yards) and one to Miles Sanders (for 12 yards).
  • The Eagles scored a touchdown on their first possession against the Jets. It was their first first-possession TD in six games. The Jets scored touchdowns on their first three possessions against the Eagles. The only other team to do that to them this season was the Chiefs.

Paul Domowitch has covered pro football for five decades and has been a Hall of Fame selector since 2001. You can reach Paul at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @pdomo.

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