Eagles Winning Blueprint: Run the Ball, Stop the Run, Control the Clock

It's hard to imagine a more effective blueprint for winning football games.

Rush for 176 yards per game, hold your opponent to 46 rushing yards per game, control the clock.

That's it.

It's not complicated. It's not fancy. But it sure works.

The Eagles kind of fell into this blueprint by accident. Coming out of the Chiefs game, head coach Doug Pederson hadn't yet committed to the run, but he gave the ball to LeGarrette Blount early against the Giants, and Blount responded. And the veteran running back and the ground attack haven't slowed down since.

The same formula has repeated itself three weeks in a row now, and the Eagles are 4-1 because of it.

Giants? Eagles ran for 193 yards, allowed 49 rushing yards, held the ball for 37:32.

Chargers? Eagles ran for 214 yards, allowed 58 rushing yards, held the ball for 39:18.

Cards? Eagles ran for 122 yards, allowed 31 rushing yards, held the ball for 35:47.

Three wins, three dominating performances by both lines.

This is only the sixth time in franchise history the Eagles have put together three consecutive games with 120 or more rushing yards while allowing 65 or fewer rushing yards. They did it four games in a row over the 1944 and 1945 seasons.

And despite not doing much of running the first two weeks of the season, the Eagles are now fifth in the NFL in rushing yards along with second in rush defense.

Combine those two strengths, and you're going to control the clock. And the Eagles are best in the NFL in doing that, averaging a league-best 35:32 in time of possession. Control the clock and most of the time you're going to control the game.

Simple. Elegant. Effective.

And what's really impressive is that the Eagles are running the ball despite missing Darren Sproles (along with Donnel Pumphrey and this past weekend Wendell Smallwood). They're grinding out the rushing yards with a 30-year-old tailback who's with his fourth team in six years and didn't get a single carry in Week 2.

And they're stopping the run without Fletcher Cox. Tim Jernigan, unwanted by the Ravens, has been a beast in the interior of the line, and Beau Allen has been solid as well.

Five weeks in, the Eagles have more than twice as many rushing yards (694) as they've allowed (314).

They're the first team to rush for at least 690 yards and allow fewer than 315 after five games since the 2000 Ravens (who happened to win a Super Bowl) and only the 12th in NFL history (and seventh since 1950) to boast that kind of disparity at this point in the season.

Run the ball. Stop the run. Control the clock.

You just can't beat that combination.

This is the first time in 27 years the Eagles have held the ball over 35 minutes for three straight games.

When the Eagles rush for 120 or more yards while allowing 65 or fewer yards, they've won 22 straight games (dating back to a 21-20 loss to the Cowboys in 2005), and they're 47-3 since 1992.

The Eagles upgraded both lines this offseason, and upgraded at running back, and it's all paying off.

"It's been a good recipe for us in the last few ball games," head coach Doug Pederson said Monday. "I think it's important … to establish the run in football games to start. It just helps our offense, helps our offensive line settle into games. And when you see your defense, the three-and-outs that they have and stopping the run, it can frustrate an opponent as it would us when you can't run the ball.

"So both have really attributed to the success that we've had these last few games, and our offensive line has done a really nice job at rising to the challenge against some really good defensive fronts, too."

The Eagles piled up 193 and 214 rushing yards on the Giants and Chargers, and even though the Cards have been statistically very good against the run, Pederson really committed to the ground attack, and Blount responded with 68 of his 74 yards in the second half.

When we talk about a team's identity, I think of it meaning a style of playing that doesn't change week-to-week and doesn't depend on the opponent and doesn't even depend on what players you have in uniform that day.

You find what you do well, and you do it against everybody. And you keep doing it. That's where the Eagles are right now. It's a winning formula.

These last three weeks, no opposing back has rushed for more than 35 yards against the Eagles, and in each game, Blount has averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry.

The Eagles are only the 13th team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1966 - the first since the 2007 Jaguars - to put together a three-game stretch at any point during a season with 520 or more rushing yards gained and 140 or fewer rushing yards allowed.

It's a roadmap for success, and as long as Pederson follows that map, the Eagles are going to keep winning.

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