Philadelphia Eagles News

Post-Snap Read: Stats alone don't do the rushing attack justice

Quarterback Jalen Hurts
Quarterback Jalen Hurts

What the Eagles are doing right now with their rushing attack is, in a word, unprecedented. They ran for a season-high 242 yards on Sunday against the Saints, who had the top run defense in the NFL entering the weekend.

Let's break that down for a quick second. Entering Week 11, the Saints had allowed just 72.9 yards per game on the ground. That is an impressive number, but sometimes those counting stats can lie. What did they look like from an efficiency standpoint?

Per Pro Football Focus, the Saints led the NFL in rush yards before contact per attempt (0.7 yards per carry) through the first 10 weeks – so ball carriers were being impacted basically at the line of scrimmage on every carry.

During that same span, the Saints also led the NFL in rush yards AFTER contact per attempt (2.1 yards per carry) – so ball carriers weren't getting far after touching a Saints defender. That defense was not missing many tackles.

On Sunday? No team allowed more rushing yards before contact (133) than New Orleans (the next closest was the Pittsburgh Steelers with 105) and on a per-attempt basis, they ranked 24th (2.6 yards per carry, nearly four times the amount coming into the matchup). After contact, the Saints allowed 109 yards on the ground, good for 24th in the NFL out of 28 teams entering Monday night.

All this to say that the Eagles' run game was outstanding on Sunday, as it has been for the last month. This is the first time since 1978 that the Eagles have rushed for 200-plus yards in consecutive games, and it's the first time since 1950 that they've rushed for 175-plus yards in four straight games. That's what I mean when I say it's unprecedented.

So, why is the run game so impactful? Why is it so hard for defenses to stop? Well, to start things off – the scheme is excellent. There are layers and layers and layers to this run scheme as it is coordinated by Jeff Stoutland. They hit you from every angle, and they give defenses a ton to think about.

Downhill runs. Perimeter runs. Option runs. Quarterback runs. The Eagles run all of them, and they do a great job of disguising things so that you don't know exactly what is coming. This doesn't even take into account what they do with marrying up their run plays with play-action passes, run-pass options, and screens. When they're humming, it's very, very difficult to stop.

From the "X's and O's" to the "Jimmys and Joes," it's time now to talk about the players executing this scheme. For starters, the offensive line has been phenomenal, and each and every one of these guys chipped in with impressive blocks at some point on Sunday against the Saints.

Jason Kelce was outstanding against the Saints, whether it was the big highlights as a puller or just pushing people off the ball working double teams with his guards. No. 62 was a machine. He's invaluable to this Eagles offense, but it wasn't just him in this game. Jordan Mailata was pushing people off the ball. Landon Dickerson was getting great movement. Jack Driscoll was very good in space. Lane Johnson was ... well ... Lane Johnson, one of the best tackles in football. This group is playing really, really well, and only figures to get better with time.

Then there's the point guard of the whole operation in Jalen Hurts, a true X-factor with this run game. You'll notice on a lot of these plays, the threat of Hurts holding on to the ball is there. Whether he's reading a defender with an opportunity to keep it himself or if there's an option to throw the ball to the perimeter, defenses have to respect it and defend every blade of grass on each play.

Hurts became the only quarterback in team history to rush for three touchdowns in a game on Sunday (and only the third Eagle in a decade to do it, regardless of position). He now has four games in his career where he's rushed for two or more touchdowns, the most ever by an Eagles quarterback. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he became the third NFL quarterback in the last 20 years to score twice on the ground in the first quarter of a game, joining Russell Wilson (2012) and Daunte Culpepper (2002).

Hurts has run for at least 50 yards in five straight games, the longest streak by any Eagles quarterback since Randall Cunningham did it in six straight back in 1990.

Obviously, there is the yardage he is able to pick up as a scrambler as well on designed pass plays, but that is just icing on the cake that is this rushing attack. The Eagles are mashing people up front, and I would expect that to continue moving forward as this offense is on a roll with a slate of NFC East matchups kicking off Sunday at the New York Giants.

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