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Believe it or Not, Philadelphia Eagles have Excellent Run-Pass Balance

LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia Eagles

When the Philadelphia Eagles left Kansas City following their first and so far only loss of the season, the familiar fear of fans began to creep in. Like his mentor and former long-tenured Eagles coach, Andy Reid, Doug Pederson didn’t seem too concerned with the fact that his quarterback had thrown the ball a whopping 46 times in the loss, compared to just 13 called runs.

To illustrate the point, Carson Wentz, who carried the ball four of those 13 times, led the team in rushing with 55 yards whereas the running back Philadelphia signed in the off season to shore up the ground game, LeGarrette Blount, spent more time on the bench than on the field, finishing with zero carries.

Pederson drew a good deal of criticism and rightly so. At that point in the season, the Philadelphia Eagles had called 85 pass plays compared to just 33 in the running game for a run-pass balance of 72/28, which is really no balance at all. That mark had Wentz on pace for 680 attempts on the season, which would have been the third highest single season mark of all-time and likely would have, as Philly.com’s Paul Domowitch said, resulted in Wentz needing, “Tommy John surgery by Halloween.”

Well, Halloween is just around the corner but thankfully the fear of  Wentz’s arm falling off seems to be unfounded thanks to a much better run-pass balance in the last three games. Wentz has thrown the ball just 92 times, an average of 30.6 passes per game, compared to the 42.5 he had been averaging after the first two games. Meanwhile, the focal point of the Eagles offense has shifted big time and the running game has been at the center of it.

Compared to the 72/28 balance of the first two games, the Philadelphia Eagles, who are undefeated in their last three games, have actually run the ball more times than they’ve passed it. Pederson’s offense has called 122 running plays and 92 passing plays, which is a 57/43 balance that favors the run. And for any Eagles fan to see a run-pass balance that favors the run, it’s definitely a bit of culture shock.

On the season, the balance still favors the pass but only just barely. With 155 running plays compared to 177 passing plays, Philadelphia has a run-pass balance on the season that is 53 percent pass and 47 percent run. That’s essentially right down the middle, which for a Philadelphia team is something that seems more like a dream than a reality.

It is real though and so is the 4-1 record, which is tied with the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers for best in the NFC and second best in the NFL. And given the way the loss to the Chiefs went, there is no doubt that the running game, which has the third most rushing attempts in the league (155) and fourth most total rushing yards (694), is a big part as to why Philadelphia has won three in a row.

Committing to the running game, specifically to Blount as the lead back, has done wonders for the Eagles. Despite recording zero carries against the Chiefs, Blount ranks 11th among all running backs in total rushing yards (323) and is 14th in rushing yards per game (64.6). Breaking down those stats and to show how good Blount has been when he has been given opportunities with the ball, if you exclude the zero carry/zero yard performance, he would be ranked sixth with an average of 80.8 yards per game. Additionally, of the top-11 running backs in total yards, Blount is the only one to have over 300 yards while also having less than 60 carries.

Making the most of his carries and proving to be one of the toughest guys in the league to tackle, Blount is also ranked fourth among all running backs in yards per carry (5.8).

It’s long been understood that in the NFL a good running game can really open up the passing game, especially as it relates to deep threats down the field. Right now, the Philadelphia Eagles are excelling in that area as well, with the fifth most total passing yards (1295), 10th most yards per attempt (7.7), the sixth most touchdowns (10) and eighth most yards per game (259). Wentz has looked comfortable in the pocket and now that he has weapons to make those downfield throws to, has taken advantage of the way the defense has opened up thanks to the success in the running game.

So really, the moral of the story here is that Pederson needs to keep giving Blount the ball and letting the bruising back do the rest. If so, there is a really good chance that fans are going to continue to be happy with the results.

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