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All For One And One For All In Running Backs Room

Posted Nov 22, 2017

The run game issues that once plagued the Eagles at the onset of the season are long forgotten. The running backs, in cohorts with the improving offensive line in the absence of Jason Peters, are punishing opponents for 144.6 yards per game – second best in the NFL. Since Jay Ajayi became an Eagle, the team has averaged over 200 rushing yards per game while tallying five rushing touchdowns.

Rookie running back Corey Clement has scored four touchdowns in the previous two games with three of them on the ground. He’s just one of the players benefiting from the offense’s running back-by-committee approach.

“As a running back, you always want the touches. Guys within this running back group came from getting 25-plus carries a game to barely over 15 carries,” Clement said. “I think LeGarrette (Blount) gets the highest out of all of us which he deserves it but at the same time we’re all pushing to get more touches.”

As the coaching staff indicated in the past, the rotation could vary game to game to keep defenses off balance. Clement lugged the most carries against the Broncos, while Blount shouldered almost half of the touches against the Cowboys. Regardless, the results speak for themselves. The Eagles are the only team with five running backs to score at least one rushing touchdown.

“On the call sheet, there's 100-some plays. You never know which ones are going to get dialed up. So the range of what a guy could get is hard to predict, so one week it's going to be 50 percent, the next week it's going to be 25 percent,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “There were a couple runs, to be honest, that we had designed for Jay and LeGarrette was on the field, and we just kind of were rolling and left him on.

"Next week it could happen the other way. We've got plays designed for LeGarrette, Jay happens to be in there or Corey happens to be in there, and Coach (Doug Pederson) just says, ‘No, I don't want to change, I don't want to give them a chance to change their personnel.’ I think Coach has a really good feel for that. I think really this last week he called the run game phenomenally well like that and left things rolling at times."

Kenjon Barner took just two snaps on offense against Dallas but his impact was noteworthy. He followed up a 22-yard sideline catch (keeping both feet in bounds) with a 4-yard touchdown run for the Eagles’ first score of the night and his first touchdown of the season.

“We got a game plan and you just have to be ready when your number’s called,” Barner said.

As evidenced by the 7.48 yards per carry against the Cowboys, the running back unit has been reliable. Perhaps more impressively, no Eagle has carried the ball more than 16 times in a game this season.

“Everybody has their role. We’re not selfish players. We know that everybody’s going to come out and compete and do their job,” Blount said. “Obviously we’ve gotten to the point where our rotation works really well for us. Our rotation puts defenses at a disadvantage.

"Bringing Jay in was a big step forward for us – it added depth, it added another tough-nosed, Pro Bowl running back. You can never have too many pieces to make sure you have a healthy team to go on the final run that you need to make that race.”

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