RUN GAME REQUIRED
Eagles need ground game to make play-action packages effective
PHILADELPHIA — There will be times on today when Eagles quarterback Nick Foles can sense a second or two before the snap that the running play he’s been setting up with his signal-calling won’t work.
Foles also has to know that it might not be the worst thing in the world to go ahead with it anyway.
Because the Eagles don’t necessarily have to have great success on the ground, but they have to stay committed to the run at least enough to make their play-action packages effective and give their receivers better chances to get open down the field.
Otherwise this NFC divisional round playoff game on the road against the New Orleans Saints (4:40 p.m., FOX) is likely to unfold much like the first meeting between these teams in November, when the Saints embarrassed them, 48-7.
The Saints claimed after that game that their defensive game plan was simply to put the ball in quarterback Carson Wentz’s hands, which they did by first shutting down the run and then building such a big lead that the Eagles had to abandon it.
The Eagles have achieved much better balance since that low point, winning six of seven.
But even against teams that limited them, such as the Houston Texans, who held them to 2.6 yards per attempt, or the Chicago Bears, who last week completely stifled them (42 rushing yards, 1.8 yards per attempt), the Eagles never gave up running entirely, which might have been the difference in pulling out those crucial victories.
“We’ve talked all season long about wanting to stay committed to the run,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said, “and we were going to do that. We feel
The Eagles’ coaches say they must present at least the threat of an effective running game from the teams’ backs, including Darren Sproles (43), if they are to have a chance against the Saints. New Orleans has made no secret of the fact that they would like the Eagles to have to resort to the pass in crucial situations.