“Run the Ball”
Going into the 2021 season, the Eagles did not have an offensive identity. This is not entirely surprising with a new coaching staff and starting quarterback. During the start of the year, the offense still didn’t quite have an identity. They started off wanting to be a throwing team. Whether it was due to lack of success or my preferred option, the pressure from the fans pushing the Eagles to run the ball, Sirianni switched to a run-first football team. Last season the Eagles led the National Football League in rushing with 2,715 rushing yards (159.7 yards/game) and 25 rushing touchdowns.
What Should their Identity Be?
This season, it will be interesting to see the Eagles offensive identity. They were the best running team last season, but with the addition of AJ Brown and the expected growth from Jalen Hurts we could see them throwing the ball more. They have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league, but let’s not forget Brown has already been a star receiver in a run-heavy offense.
I honestly believe the optics are the most significant conflict with this decision. Of course, everybody wants to watch a high-flying offense that slings the ball around the field. Not only is it more entertaining, but it also makes people feel better about the offense. On the other hand, if they are a run-first team, there will always be a lack of belief in Hurts from the fans and media.
Play to Your Strengths
At the end of the day, does their identity matter? Rushing? Passing? Who cares? The goal is to win football games. If the strength of this team is not the passing game, why should that be the offense’s identity? I am a big believer in playing to the strength of your team. The greatest strength of this Philadelphia Eagles football team is the offensive line. We are lucky to have the best O-line in football. We witnessed this offensive line pummel opposing defenses game after game last season as the Eagles pushed for the playoffs.
Our top running back, Miles Sanders, didn’t even score a touchdown, and they still led the league in rushing touchdowns. Also, a strength of our quarterback is running the football. He is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks with the ball in his hands and is an added weapon in the run game. Including this play, one of my favorites from last season.
The Eagles have an elite trio of receiving talent in Brown, Goedert, and Smith. This is probably the biggest reason they could be a pass-first team. These are three dangerous players with the ball in their hands. Even with how much they ran the ball last year, DeVonta Smith was almost the first Eagles receiver to have 1,000 yards since Jeremy Maclin. Undoubtedly, the Eagles will be throwing the ball more this season. How much more is the real question.
I also believe the passing attack can be more explosive and dangerous than last season, even if they are a majority-running team. The run threat will keep linebackers and safeties with their eyes in the backfield, opening up space in the secondary for the Eagles playmakers. Successfully running the ball will also set up play-action hopefully leading to more bigger plays from the Eagles offense.
Either way, the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles can have one of the top offenses in the NFL. A balanced offense is always best, and the Eagles should be well balanced with a dominant offensive line and playmakers everywhere.
Hopefully, there is growth from Jalen Hurts, which will elevate the offense to another level. However, there will always be a lack of trust in Hurts from parts of the fanbase and media if they are a run-first team. Running the ball is the strength of this team regardless of the receivers they have.
A tough in your face football team, highlighted by this nasty offensive line, is perfect for the city of Philadelphia. Once the run game gets going, then they can spread the ball around. Look for the Eagles to have a balanced attack next season, but I believe they will still be a run-first team in 2022. Running the ball made this team go last season, and it will make the team go this season.
Photo Credit: Brynn Anderson/AP Photo