Perhaps the biggest question that fans were left with after the Eagles' 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings concerned the number of times LeSean McCoy touched the football. Or, more accurately, the lack of carries for the league's leading rusher. Though McCoy did manage to set a new career-high for rushing yards in a single season (1,343), he carried the ball a season-low eight times for just 38 yards.
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur explained the reasoning behind the team's reliance on the passing game, explaining the game plan that had been put in place.
"We do what we have to do to win the game," said Shurmur. "Sometimes we run it more than we throw it, and sometimes we throw it more than we run it. I think what happens is that everybody looks at the numbers after the game is over and says 'That's why you didn't win', but no, we do what we have to do to win the game."
The final box score shows that the Eagles ran 65 offensive plays, meaning that McCoy was handed the ball on just 12.3 percent of the plays. According to Shurmur, however, sometimes the box score doesn't tell the full story.
"I think typically you do what you think you've got to do to win the football game," Shurmur explained. "We were behind, as you know. We felt like we had favorable matchups throwing the football as well. They were down to their fourth and fifth corner. I think that plays into it.
"Then there were a couple times when we certainly might have handed him the ball where Nick pulled it. A couple times runs were called where we threw bubbles. There's a lot going on there. When you just kind of look at it after the game on one piece of paper, there's also the rest of the story."
Another storyline from Sunday's game, and one that has been talked about throughout the season, was the Eagles' play in the red zone. Five times the Eagles drove the ball inside the Vikings 20-yard line, but they were only able to cap off two of those possessions with touchdowns. On the season, the Eagles are the 31st-ranked team in red-zone efficiency at 45.83 percent, and Shurmur admitted that the team is always looking to improve that part of their game.
"Whether you're good or bad in situational football, you always work on it," Shurmur explained. "Typically we are always working on third down, always working on the red zone, always working on a four-minute situation where you're ahead and you're trying to end the game, and then you also work on clutch situations where you try to win the game when you're behind. We work on that all the time, regardless of what the numbers say we are.
"I think we are scoring a lot of touchdowns down there. We're scoring a lot of touchdowns from out. There are times when we have a bad play or two that, as you know, if you have a bad play or two, it limits your chances of getting in. I think for the most part we feel good about the stuff we're doing, we just got to do some of it better."
Next up for the Eagles lies a Chicago Bears team that has dealt with a number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. As a result, the Bears have struggled to find a rhythm defensively and have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL (152.4 yards per game). While the numbers aren't great for Chicago's defense, Shurmur is aware of their knack for coming up with big takeaways. As the Eagles start their week of preparation for the final regular season game at Lincoln Financial Field, ball security will be a top priority.
"Certainly they've had injuries, but they're playing through them," said Shurmur. "But they're playing hard. They're opportunistic. They get stops at the right time. They've contributed to their wins. They score a lot of points on defense and they'll get turnovers at the right time. They'll give up some yards, but most teams do these days. But I think they find a way to get a team stopped at the right time."
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