Andy Reid has a term to describe what his offense did against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday: "efficient balance."
In all, the typically pass-happy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called 37 run plays as opposed to 43 passes – one of the Eagles' most balanced ratios of the entire season. But if you count the three times quarterback Donovan McNabb scrambled and the one time he was sacked, the final total rested at 40 runs and 39 passes, the first time this season the Eagles ran more than they threw.
Is this commitment to the run a direct correlation to the 48-20 win at Lincoln Financial Field? Photo Gallery : ARI vs. PHI 11-27-08
Well, yes and no.
No, Reid said, because simply running the ball more times than you throw doesn't guarantee a win.
Yes, in this case, because it actually worked. Efficient balance.
"I'm not going to sit there and bang my head against the wall by running the football every snap if I'm not gaining a yard. At the same time, if we're not throwing the ball well or we're not getting the protection we need and we are running the football OK, then we'll run the football more," Reid said. "That's what's so great about this offense. When one thing isn't working, you go to the other. You just have to make sure one thing is working."
In a way, the Eagles lucked out, Reid said. Because of a switch in Arizona's typical defensive scheme, they were able to run many of the same plays they game planned for last week's game against Baltimore.
The Cardinals, typically a Cover 3 defense, switched in between a soft Cover 2 and a Cover 4 on Thursday, Reid said. These schemes took away Reid's typical shots down the field, but they allowed McNabb to establish a rhythm and confidence with shorter, higher-percentage throws.
Then, Brian Westbrook exploded.
In all, the Eagles threw for 252 yards while running for 185. The Cardinals had played right into Reid's book.
"What that does is it limits your down-the-field throws and makes you concentrate more on catching the football and running with it in a little shorter of a passing game," Reid said. "Those were the two things we did and that's why you saw what you saw. Then they changed (back to a Cover 3). They kind of went back as the game went on. By that time, we had a pretty decent lead."
So, will Reid look to keep this balance for the remainder of the season?
As, always, it depends. But this was the start the Eagles needed to make a run.
"I thought the players, on a short week, really trusted the gameplan," Reid said. "Not that they haven't before, but I thought they really trusted the gameplan, and liked it and seemed to execute it well on the practice days that we had; just a couple. I thought the players executed very well."
JEAN-GILLES, ANDREWS UPDATES
- Guard Max Jean-Gilles, who suffered a fractured ankle late in the first half on Thursday, will need to have surgery and will be placed on injured reserve. Reid called the injury "pretty serious" and called it similar to the injury Shawn Andrews suffered in his first career game in 2004. In Jean-Gilles' place, Nick Cole will start and rookie guard Mike McGlynn will be activated on gameday, while a move will be made on the 53-man roster to replace him. One possibility is tackle Chris Patrick from the practice squad, Reid said.
- Speaking of Andrews, he has finally returned to Philadelphia, though Reid has yet to meet with him. Andrews battled through pain on the flight home from Marina Del Rey, Ca., where he underwent back surgery in October, Reid said. Andrews will meet with Reid and head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder on Friday.
- Reid said it's possible both cornerback Asante Samuel and running back Correll Buckhalter will return next Sunday at New York. Reid called Buckhalter "more of a stretch" than Samuel.