Eagles need to attack through the ground against the best rush defense in football
The Eagles have been killing teams the last few weeks in the running game. Over their previous three games, the Eagles are averaging 208 yards per game, over 50 yards more than the highest YPG in the NFL. Over the entire season, Philadelphia is averaging 144, third in the NFL.
According to PFF, the Eagles have the second-highest rushing grade with 87.4, only behind the New England Patriots, who have a 90.5. The Eagles also have a top ten run-blocking grade even while dealing with several injuries.
While this strategy has worked for several weeks, Philadelphia will have a far more difficult matchup this Sunday. The New Orleans Saints are by far the best rush defense in the NFL, allowing the fewest rushing yards per game at just 72.9 and only 3.1 yards per carry. PFF grades out the Saints rush defense at 87.8, the highest in the league by a wide margin.
|Eagles||-2 (-110)||-108||O 43 (-113)|
|Saints||+2 (-110)||+130||U 43 (-108)|
Nick Sirianni has done a tremendous job adjusting the team’s game plan over the last few weeks, and he will have to again this Sunday. The Eagles running game is good enough to be effective against almost anyone, but they will likely need to incorporate passing plays more.
Philadelphia hasn’t heavily utilized the run against a good rush defense this season, so there’s no preliminary projection of if they would still be successful. It also helps the Eagles that Miles Sanders will be back in the fold for the first time since this massive change of focus on offense.
If the Saints had a weak passing game, the change would be obvious, but this team is well-rounded on defense. The Saints are ranked 9th in the passing game per PFF but have allowed 265 passing yards per game. Don’t let those numbers fool you, though.
The high number of passing yards is inflated due to their dominance in the rushing game. New Orleans has also faced many pass-heavy offenses like the Packers, Buccaneers, and the Seattle Seahawks. There’s a chance the Saints numbers are so low because of their small sample size.
Nick Sirianni and the Eagles need to adopt the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” motto this upcoming weekend. The Saints have been run against just 214 times, the fifth-fewest in the league. Their running game and the overall offense aren’t working just because of how bad the opposing defenses are. The Eagles are genuinely just incredibly effective when relying more on the ground than the passing game.
Jalen Hurts is far more comfortable when using the runs to set up play-action and read options, making his decisions easier and simpler. Jonathan Gannon’s defense actually worked against a weak QB and offense in Teddy Bridgewater and the Broncos. Trevor Siemian is worse than Bridgewater, and their weapons are weaker outside Alvin Kamara, who might not even play.
Philadelphia can afford to work in the running game and grind out three-yard carries if necessary. Make this Saints defense prove they are as dominant as the stats show before changing your game plan. This running offense has been great. Let’s see how better they are when the RB1 gets brought into the mix.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo