The Eagles played their best offensive game of the season on Sunday night, and the run game was to thank for that. Sam Bradford’s 25-36, 295 yards and a touchdown were the statistics of his best overall performance this season, he also has the run game to thank for that. Jordan Matthews finished the game with 9 catches for 133 yards and the game winning score in overtime, and he has the run game to thank as well. For the first time this season the Eagles were able to run the ball effectively and, more importantly, consistently. And if the Eagles wish to have their offensive success carry over they must continue to run the ball, and run it well.
The running back combination of Murray, Mathews and Sproles combined for 173 yards rushing on 34 carries between the three of them. Maybe it was the fact that he was back in Dallas and wanted to shove a win in Jerry Jones’ face, but DeMarco Murray had his best game as an Eagle. Statistically he has had better games, however this week was the most enthused and energized he has been since he arrived in Philly. He ran the ball harder than he has all year and when holes weren’t open, he put his head down, kept his legs moving and got what he could instead of taking a loss. Ryan Mathews, who has been the Eagles most consistent back this season, put in another solid effort averaging 6.1 yards per carry. And as the change of pace back in a crowded backfield, Darren Sproles was still able to contribute 23 yards on five carries. With each running back being a serious threat to pick up yards in a hurry, Sam Bradford and the passing attack were able to thrive.
Through the first seven games this season, the Eagles offense has not lived up to the expectations that had been set by their play in the preseason. This Sunday, they showed flashes of the preseason team. The run game is the most vital aspect of the Eagles’ offense succeeding this year. When the run game is effective and getting positive yards, the passing attack opens up, they are able to gain first downs, run a ton of plays and wear defenses down like they did on their third quarter touchdown drive, forcing Dallas to burn a timeout. That’s what Chips Kelly’s offense is all about. Many believe Kelly’s offense centers around the quarterback and his ability to make plays with his arm and his legs, however the reason Chip believes his system can work with any quarterback is because the run game makes the offense. A productive run game allows receivers to get open, allows Bradford to have more time in the pocket to find them and keeps the offense on the field until they find the end zone.
Bradford was the most comfortable and composed we’ve seen him all year, the reason, he didn’t have to carry the entire offensive load on his arm. The run game allowed Sam to settle in and it didn’t allow the Cowboys’ defense to sit back and defend the pass. This allowed Sam to pick apart the secondary and allowed for receivers to get open more often. The game ball for Sunday night goes to the run game, the make-shift offensive line that played extremely well and the three-headed monster at running back. So the answer to the offensive struggles is simple, run the ball Chip, just run the ball.