Philadelphia Eagles find offensive balance by running more

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 19, 2017 at 9:44 PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- In the Philadelphia Eagles' 30-17 Week 1 victory over the Washington Redskins, they ran the ball just 24 times for 58 yards.

A week later, they had just 17 rushing attempts in 69 offensive plays in a 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Carson Wentz threw an NFL-high 85 passes in those first two games.

Since then, the Eagles have been much more balanced. They've gone from a 30.6 run percentage in their first two games to 52.0 over the last four, all of which they have won.

When the 5-1 Eagles and 3-2 Redskins meet again on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles will go in with a game plan that will call for much more balance than in Week 1, when it took a fourth-quarter strip-sack of Kirk Cousins and a 20-yard touchdown run with a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to break open a tight game.

"I feel pretty confident about our balance, and a lot of that starts with running the football, and we do feel like we can go toe to toe with anybody running the football," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.

"We're going to be challenged on that this week because this team is good against the run. They've been good against us playing the run. So it's a big challenge."

The Redskins are eighth in the league against the run, holding opponents to 88 yards per game. But part of the reason for that is that they have the third fewest rushing attempts against them (22.0 per game).

In their last four games, the Eagles have averaged 157.5 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry on the ground.

LeGarrette Blount, signed as a free agent in the offseason, has turned out to be an invaluable addition, particularly in light of the season-ending injury to Darren Sproles and the knee injury to Wendell Smallwood that has kept him out of the last two games.

Blount is eighth in the league in rushing (390 yards). Just two other running backs with at least 50 carries - Kansas City's Kareem Hunt and Baltimore's Alex Collins - are averaging more yards per carry than Blount's 5.6.

"(Blount) is a big man who has better balance and vision than most people realize," Reich said. "And he has a little bit of - I don't know what the right way to say it is - but he's not afraid to run you over. But he thinks he can make you miss, which is ironic.

"A lot of big guys, they know they can't make you miss, so they just try to run you over. He's a big man who thinks he can make you miss or come off the hit, put his hands down, spin, regain his balance. So I think that's a pretty good dynamic."

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