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Rushing Attack Joining NFL's Elite

Posted Nov 12, 2015

In the past four games, the Eagles’ running backs have taken off. After averaging only 70 rushing yards in the first four matchups, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles have increased that number by over 100 yards per game.

Since Week 5, the team has accumulated an average of 173.3 yards on the ground. It’s no coincidence that Philadelphia went 3-1 in those games compared to its 1-3 start when the run game struggled to get going.

“I think we’ve all been kind of playing well,” Murray said following Thursday’s practice. “I think the offensive line has been playing extremely well. Receivers, you know, making blocks downfield, catching a lot of passes. So, it’s hard for teams to try and stop the run and stop the pass. I think they’re looking at the receivers, looking at the run game. We’re kind of keeping them on their toes.”

With both Murray and Mathews new to the Eagles’ offense this season, it’s not a shock that the players needed a period to make adjustments. In the first two games, the NFL's leading rusher in 2014 only accumulated 11 yards on the ground. He missed the team’s third game due to injury, but even in Week 4, he only came away with 36 rushing yards.

Grabbing 47 yards in his opening weeks as an Eagle obviously wasn’t his plan, but it didn’t mean he was going to be discouraged. Murray, and the rest of the team’s running backs, knew it would only be a matter of time until the production began to pick up.

Now, Murray and Mathews are the only running back duo in the NFL with each accumulating at least 500 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. Both scored three of the five since the Eagles’ win over the Saints, the same time period in which Murray nabbed 343 of his 390 rushing yards this season.

In fact, this trend went across the board for the trio with 693 of the 973 total rushing yards this season coming in that four-game span.

Since Week 5, the Eagles are second in the league in yards rushing per game only to St. Louis, fourth in yards per attempt (5.1) and tied for second with six rushing touchdowns. The run game has turned a corner, and the group wants those stats to continue.

“I think it’s just an every-day, every-week deal,” Murray explained. “You get more and more comfortable the more you learn plays. I mean, me and Ryan are new to the offense so we haven’t run these plays in four or five years. I think it’s just a process and every day you’ve got to continue to go uphill and not measure off at an angle. I think we’ve done a good job. (Running backs coach) Duce (Staley) is doing a good job at watching all of our runs and knowing what we’ve got to bet better at and really reading the blocking scheme.”

In Murray’s last outing, he picked up 83 yards on the ground and in total, 161 yards from scrimmage against the Cowboys. He’ll be looking to do much of the same this weekend when he and the Eagles take on the Dolphins.

However, the team knows that it will have a challenge on its hands. Miami is coming off a 33-17 loss to Buffalo in which it allowed 266 yards on the ground and two 100-yard rushers in LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams. The running back is sure the Dolphins will be making adjustments ahead of this weekend’s game.

“They’re a good team,” Murray said. “Obviously you’ve got (Ndamukong) Suh. He’s probably one of the best defensive tackles in the league. That defense and that coaching staff have a lot of pride about their organization, so I don’t think they’re going to fold or let us come in and do what we want. We know it’s going to be a challenge. We’re working hard. I’m sure they are too, and we’ll see Sunday.”

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