Eagles finally show off effective running game

Jordan Howard Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (24) runs past Detroit Lions safety Dean Marlowe (31) during the third quarter at Ford Field.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

A victory against the Detroit Lions on Sunday was widely expected by many heading into Week 8, but first-year head coach Nick Sirianni still didn’t fail to surprise the football world in how he achieved that victory.

Yes, after seven games of sputtering offenses and pass-heavy attacks that yielded a 2-5 record, the Eagles finally ran the ball consistently in a 44-6 beatdown of the Lions.

It also just so happened that they did so effectively, rushing 46 times for 236 yards and four touchdowns.

Those 46 rushes account for nearly 22% of the Eagles’ entire number of carries this season. It’s also the most they’ve had in a single game in eight seasons.

“I think we do what we need to do to win football games, and what we think is best to win football games,” Sirianni said. “We got some good runs early on, and when the offensive line kept coming back to the sideline saying, ‘Hey, we got a lot of momentum right here, we’re pushing them up front,’… we just kept staying with it.”

Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (35) scores a first quarter touch down against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

They had to do it without the injured Miles Sanders, but Boston Scott and Jordan Howard provided a lethal duo in the backfield. Each posted 12 carries with a pair of touchdowns in the win — Scott rushing for 60 yards while Howard added 57.

Kenneth Gainwell was called upon 13 times for additional 27 yards, but quarterback Jalen Hurts came away with the most rushing yards on the day with 71 on seven carries as he continued to take advantage of the Eagles’ RPO offense.

“I thought Jalen did a good job of checking us in and out of some plays, in and out of some looks, and so, again, we did what we needed to do to win this football game,” Sirianni said. “It was great to see us be able to run the football like that. Played really physical up front, so that’s where it all really starts, right there.”

The new-found run game showed the kind of pressure it can take off Hurts’ arm. The second-year quarterback attempted just 14 passes on Sunday — quite a contrast for someone who has attempted at least 34 passes in five of the Eagles’ previous seven games.

“The running backs did a hell of a job today,” tight end Dallas Goedert said. “It didn’t matter if they were getting hit in the backfield, they were still falling forward for five [yards], so that was really cool. Great job for them. Being able to run the ball like that, we were able to get our play-action [going], able to find some soft spots in the zone, get the linebackers to step up because we were able to run the ball so well.”

It’s certainly something the Eagles can build off of heading into a Week 9 meeting with the 4-3 Los Angeles Chargers, who have the second-worst run defense in the entire NFL.

“You want to do what the defense is allowing you to do, while still doing the things you’ve been successful with,” Sirianni said. “So, yeah, it’s great. When you’re able to run the football like that, it opens up everything else. Because, again, I know we didn’t throw for very many yards, but the play-action game — the chunks that we got to Dallas particularly in the play-action game, came off of some very unique run looks that we did earlier in the game that they had to bring an extra guy down to stop the run.”

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