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The Run Game


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The Run Game

Posted: May 21st, 2020 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 8 Comments

There is an ongoing debate in the football world over the importance of running backs. Should you draft one early? Should you pay one big money? What is the best way to address the position?

One thing not up for debate is the value of the run game. The Ravens led the league in rushing and scoring. They won 14 games. The Niners were second in rushing and scoring. They made it to the Super Bowl and probably should have won the game. The Titans were third in rushing. They had their best offense in years and made it to the AFC title game.

It isn’t as simple as run the ball and you win, but good teams can usually run the ball well.

In previous eras, the run game was mostly about the RB. You got a star and fed him the ball. Emmitt. Barry. LT. And on and on. Things have changed a bit.

You can still get a stud RB and feed him the ball. Dallas has done that. They built their offense around Top 10 pick Ezekiel Elliott and he’s been very productive.

Go back to the three teams I mentioned earlier. Baltimore used a dynamic QB to build their run game. Lamar Jackson led the team with 1206 rushing yards. Mark Ingram ran for more than 1,000 and Gus Edwards topped the 700-yard mark.

The Niners had three RBs with more than 500 yards. They used motions and formations to outsmart defenses. SF also had WRs carry the ball 15 times. TE George Kittle ran the ball 5 times. They focused on creativity.

Tennessee fed the ball to monster RB Derrick Henry. He ran for more than 1500 yards and bludgeoned anyone who got in his way.

Those coaching staffs and scouting staffs worked together to combine scheme and talent and deliver outstanding results.

The Eagles have been a good running team under Doug Pederson. The one exception was 2018, when injuries at RB and on the OL hurt the team. The Eagles use both scheme and strong line play to move the ball on the ground. They have been judicious when it comes to investing in RBs.

Watch this fantastic video with Fran Duffy and Jeff Stoutland and you’ll get an idea on just how important scheme and technique are to running the ball.

Stoutland doesn’t really go into the players too much, but there is no question that the Eagles have one of the best lines in the league. Jason Kelce is an All Pro center. Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson are all star players. Isaac Seumalo has quietly become an above average LG. The one mystery right now is LT. We’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

The Eagles run game is enhanced by the play-calling of Doug Pederson. As Stoutland explains in the video, the Eagles have a pass play to mirror every run play. That puts added pressure on defenses. The Eagles also mix in RPOs. Again, that puts pressure on defenders. They must read plays and make instantaneous decisions. The Eagles used motion effectively in 2019 to put pre-snap pressure on defenses.

Now to the RBs. The team has largely used the RB by committee approach, finding ways to use a variety of runners and running styles. Going from LeGarrette Blount to Darren Sproles isn’t easy for defenders. Or Jordan Howard to Miles Sanders. Coach Duce Staley has gotten the most out of whatever group of players the team has given him.

Right now the Eagles have a group that I like.

Miles Sanders
Boston Scott
Corey Clement
Elijah Holyfield
Michael Warren

The team is reportedly looking to add to the mix.

While you don’t need an elite runner, the Eagles RBBC approach would be seriously challenged if anything happened to Sanders.

Freeman is the best player, but he’s reportedly asking for decent money. The Eagles might not offer what he wants.

Hyde makes sense. He’s big and strong and would complement the other RBs well. If needed, Hyde could be a workhorse.

Shady? He struggled in 2017 and 2018, but played better in a backup role for the Chiefs last year.


I would prefer going younger, but it would be interesting to see Shady in this offense.

The Eagles aren’t in a rush to make a move. They could wait and see if any other RBs come available. They’ll make a decision and add someone at some point.

What’s Tony Hunt up to these days?



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I think the run game is really going to take off for us this year. Sanders is going to be the lead back and he's such a talent. He can run the ball for big gains and he can catch the ball either on swing passes or lined up to run some routes.

It is still a passing league but if you can have a RB who's putting up monster numbers and have a QB like Carson? I mean imagine. Let's be honest if the Niners had a QB like Carson they are very likely the reigning SB Champions.

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Thinking about the RB options available when we picked in round 2 makes me sigh.

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So Hyde is off the table. Who else is out there?

Freeman and who else?

I was really hopeful that they were going to bring in Hyde so I'm disappointed we didn't go get him. But there's still an important role at the RB position to be filled so they've got to get the decision right.

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