Recently, the Eagles' running backs have been under the microscope.
Compounded by a season-ending knee injury to leading rusher Jay Ajayi and the absence of Darren Sproles because of an injured hamstring, the Eagles' running backs group has come under scrutiny as of late. Last week against Minnesota, the Eagles rushed for just 81 yards as a team and failed to get into much of a rhythm on the ground.
Amidst all those concerns, the running backs put on a strong performance against the New York Giants in Thursday's 34-13 win. Led by a two-headed attack of Wendell Smallwood (51 rushing yards) and Corey Clement (69 total yards, 1 TD), the Eagles rushed for 108 yards on 31 total carries. The ground-game rhythm the team has been in search of was found on a rainy night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
"We dialed up great plays today, kept them off balance," Clement said after the game. "Especially with outside and inside zone. Some play-action, especially some shots down the field getting penalties. I think it was a great job today."
"It was huge for us. We feel like we got our swagger back," Smallwood said. "At halftime, we were all smiles. We knew what we could do and we knew we had to bring it back this week and show everybody what we've got in us, and I think we showed it today. We were tough; we were dominant all game. There was no question whether we were going to win this game, and I feel like we got our swag back, we're ready to go, and we're going to be rolling come next week."
In his first significant action since returning from a quadricep injury that sidelined him the past two games, Clement provided an early spark for the Eagles' offense. His 1-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles a 14-3 lead with 1:28 to go in the first quarter.
"Getting out there and scoring early in the game, that's definitely something we really haven't done all season," said Clement. "To get back to that style of play that we normally did last year is definitely big. We have to keep that a part of our repertoire and keep stacking.
"I think we have to get back to our character and that's score first and attack first. The defense did a great job to turn the ball over on the first drive. I think that's what sparked it. The defense did a great job of capitalizing on every single drive they were out there, so hats off to them."
"Just execution," Smallwood said of the fast start. "We executed the plays, we made the plays that we make all the time. We dominated, we controlled the line of scrimmage, and everybody balled out."
Even with the pair of strong performances from Clement and Smallwood, questions will continue to be raised regarding the Eagles' running backs group. Will the Eagles bring in another back before the October 30th trade deadline? That's to be determined, but Clement believes the talent the Eagles have is enough to keep things moving on the ground.
"At this stage, it's definitely a test for us to see if we need to get somebody, but I talked to Howie (Roseman) before the game," Clement said. "We have to have confidence in our room. I have confidence in our room. Josh (Adams) does, Wendell does, Sproles, any other running (back) we have on our team. We don't need to look on the outside. We know who we have on our team, and we know we can win with them."
With the win in hand, the Eagles will have a 10-day break before their next game, a home tilt with the Carolina Panthers. The Eagles will be both rested and confident heading into next Sunday.
"It's going to be great," Smallwood said of the mini-break. "It's well-deserved, but I feel like we've got a head of steam heading into next week, so we're putting everybody on notice."
Check out the photos from the Eagles' Week 6 game against the rival New York Giants.