Eagles Film Review: Exploring the Good and Bad of Run Game Vs. Chiefs - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Eagles Film Review: Exploring the Good and Bad of Run Game Vs. Chiefs

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    Eagles Film Review: Exploring the Good and Bad of Run Game Vs. Chiefs
    CSNPhilly.com
    Eagles Film Review: Exploring the good and bad of run game vs. Chiefs

    LeGarrette Blount didn't get a single carry and the Eagles had just 13 designed runs to 56 called passes in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. 

    So much for balance. 

    After the game, head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles needed to fix their running game and repeated himself on Monday. 

    "We've got to focus on the run game and we've got to get the run game fixed," he said. 

    But as CSNPhilly's Reuben Frank pointed out in his column that same day, there wasn't really anything wrong with the run game other than the fact that the Eagles didn't run the ball (see story)

    Darren Sproles had a good game, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. And while two of Wendell Smallwood's runs went for negative yards, he did have a nice eight-yarder in the second half. 

    Is there still work to be done in the run game? Absolutely. 

    But when asked about the team's rushing attack on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Frank Reich took a much different stance than Pederson. 

    "There was some good things in the run game," Reich said. "We had a few nice runs. Darren's Darren. I mean, Darren made some plays and the offensive line did a good job at times. So, yeah, there were some good flashes."

    Unless you've been living under a rock for the past two days, you're probably already sick of the word "balance." Should Pederson have run the ball more? Should Blount have gotten at least a few carries? Will Pederson ever actually commit to the run? You're probably sick of it. 

    So we're not going to keep rehashing it. Instead, we'll look at a few run plays from Sunday - good and bad - to get a sense of where the run game is ... you know, when the Eagles actually do run the ball. 

    If you wanted some proof that the Eagles at least put some thought into their run game heading into Kansas City, it came pretty early. Check out how the Eagles were lined up on their second offensive play from scrimmage. 

    You'll notice that Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are both lined up to the left side of the line of scrimmage. Here was the line from right to left: Zach Ertz, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Johnson, Peters. Carson Wentz is in the shotgun, with Sproles to his right. 

    "It was just a little change-up that you throw in there," Reich said. "Typically, you have a couple play package off there. It was something we saw that we thought we could specifically use to attack their defensive front and their scheme."

    Here you'll see each of the offensive linemen's assignments as Sproles is ready to take the handoff and run behind the powerful left side. While the difference in this formation was at left tackle, Kelce is the key. He'll need to get in front on the linebacker. 

    The hole is starting to open up and Sproles sees it. Still, if Kelce can't hold his block (circled), it won't matter. 

    Not only does Kelce hold his block, but he finishes it too. He ends up driving his man completely out of the play and throws him to the ground. Sproles goes off for a 12-yard gain on 1st-and-10. It was the biggest gain of a designed run on the day. 

    Give credit to Pederson for running this next one. Just three plays after that first run, the Eagles are faced with a 2nd-and-13 and Pederson dials up a run to Sproles that picks up six yards and puts them in a manageable third down (that they'll convert). 

    Nothing fancy. Peters does a good job in front of holding down his man for just long enough for Sproles to get to the corner and pick up a nice gain. Also, give Kelce credit for getting out and blocking safety Daniel Sorensen. We all seem to notice when Kelce gets blown up at the line of scrimmage, but getting out front on these types of blocks is what he does best. 

    The Eagles' next drive is where they start to find some trouble in the run game. Two of their three runs on their second drive of the game went for negative yards and Pederson called just seven run plays after this drive. Perhaps the failure on this sequence drove him away from the ground game for the rest of the afternoon. 

    This is a rare time the Eagles actually run the ball from under center. It doesn't work. 

    At the handoff point, this play seems doomed. The left A gap is clogged by veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson but it's supposed to be a counter play. Lane Johnson (circled) is left blocking no one, while Brent Celek ends up with two guys. 

    Celek takes out the linebacker, but that leaves Allen Bailey all alone with Smallwood, who doesn't have enough time or space to get around him. Meanwhile, Johnson is still blocking air, which very well could have been a miscommunication or a missed assignment. Either way, something didn't go right on this one. 

    A few plays later, the Eagles are facing a 2nd-and-15. Like they did earlier in the game, the Eagles are going to use the run to try and set up a more manageable third down. This time, it doesn't work. 

    It's a somewhat similar play to the one that picked up six on 2nd-and-long in the first quarter, but this time the Eagles use the bigger side of the field instead of going short field to the right. 

    The problem here is that Peters has trouble holding his block on Pro Bowler Justin Houston, who is an underrated run-stuffer because of his pass-rush ability. If Peters is able to keep Houston outside, Seumalo is nailing his assignment and Sproles has a huge hole inside.  

    Sproles realizes that Peters has been beaten but it's too late. He tries to bounce it outside but is dropped for a three-yard loss. Peters looked pretty frustrated after this play. 

    Instead of setting up a manageable third down, the Eagles end up with a 3rd-and-18. They can't convert. 

    After that second-quarter series when the Eagles had two negative plays, they didn't run the ball much, but they didn't completely abandon it either. This play came with 5:41 left in the third. 

    Seumalo pulls on the play and does a nice job to get just enough of his man to create a hole (circled). And Trey Burton is fast to the hole, acting almost like a lead blocker. 

    From there, Smallwood shows his burst to gain eight yards. Sproles carried the ball on the next play for a gain of three to pick up a first down. It was the only time all game the Eagles ran the ball back-to-back times. 

    So, no. The Eagles' run game wasn't great on Sunday against the Chiefs. There are still a lot of things to fix. 

    But it wasn't that bad either. So while Pederson kept talking about fixing the run game, Reich had it right; there is plenty good about the run game right now. The Eagles just have to stick with it. Even though, if we're being honest, they probably won't.