Just two weeks into the 2017 season, the Philadelphia Eagles’ run-pass ratio was already out of whack.
After throwing the ball 39 times in Week 1 compared to just 24 rushing attempts, Pederson called 56 passes in Week 2 with a measly 13 designed runs. LeGarrette Blount failed to record a single carry in that Week 2 loss to Kansas City.
That’s when Lane Johnson spoke up.
“If we could have run the ball better, executed better, we could have won this game. We threw the ball a lot today. And part of that was because we weren’t very effective (running). Obviously, it comes down to execution, and we’re not doing our jobs.”
Other players like Zach Ertz followed suit and spoke up too.
Doug Pederson listened.
The Eagles wound up finishing sixth in the NFL in rushing yards, fourth in yards per carry (4.5), third in rushing yards per game (132.2) and 11th in run-pass ratio.
Hopefully someone spoke up after Sunday’s game.
The Eagles have run 292 plays through four games so far, with 184 called passes compared to just 108 rushes. They’re running the ball just 37 percent of the time, which is 23rd. And it’s not like the Birds are struggling to generate traction on the ground, they’re averaging a healthy 4.4 yards per carry.
In contrast, the Eagles are struggling to protect Carson Wentz. They’ve allowed 12 sacks the last three games after giving up just two during their magical Super Bowl run. Nine have come the last two weeks. Wentz was also hurried 15 times and hit 11 on Sunday.
Johnson commented on the offensive line’s performance after the game Sunday.
“They just got home a lot. It starts with all of us. We’ll improve. We’ll learn a lot from this game. It’s a tough pill to swallow. We’ll go back to work and get it fixed.”
Wentz refused to throw his line under the bus.
“It’s part of the game. I’ll watch the film. There’s times where I hold onto the ball too long, there’s miscommunication, some protections that we can get called right.”
Here’s the truth about the offensive line, while they are an elite run-blocking unit, they aren’t in pass protection. Even dating back to last season, the line surrendered 36 sacks, which was 17th.
The way they’re playing right now, they’re going to get Wentz seriously hurt.
If the offensive line doesn't start playing better, Carson Wentz is going to get seriously hurt. pic.twitter.com/3Fx0mRqz3Z
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 2, 2018
The easiest way to take pressure off the offensive line is to simply run the football more. Right now the play-action isn’t fooling anybody and the Eagles aren’t recording big chunks down the field at the moment.
Pederson did run the ball in overtime Sunday, calling five runs on the Eagles’ nine-play field goal drive. They gained 42 yards on those five totes.
Eagles were able to get the run game going on the OT drive, Jeffery had a 14-yard catch, but the drive stalls in the red zone and Elliott's 37-yard FG gives Philly a 23-20 lead. pic.twitter.com/tnIHXvA83w
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) September 30, 2018
Obviously the Eagles have dealt with injuries in the backfield as Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement have all missed time with injuries. That’s no excuse, however, because Wendell Smallwood is averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Josh Adams is averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
It doesn’t matter who is getting the ball, positive yards are being gained.
You start running the ball more, we won’t be cringing as much watching Wentz get hit every play, the play-action will begin to function properly and the Eagles will start winning more football games.
Run the damn ball, Doug!