Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni made some extremely intriguing and potentially curious comments regarding Philadelphia’s offensive approach during this week’s annual NFL owner meetings. The Eagles owned the league’s most efficient and effective rushing attack throughout the 2021 campaign, averaging a staggering 159.7 rushing yards per contest a full 10 yards more than the second-best Indianapolis Colts, who rushed for and average of 149.4 per game. Unsurprisingly, Philadelphia had a league-low 43% pass rate and Sirianni appears ready to double down on that strategy going forward. It’s a curious plan of attack given the pass-happy nature of today’s game but we applaud Sirianni and the Eagles for recognizing their strengths and committing to what works.
“I think you see it in many different ways throughout the NFL of how teams get it done,” Sirianni said. “You can be a top-ranked run team. You can be a top-ranked pass team. The main stats that we’re always focused on are, ‘Did we win the explosive-play battle and did we win the turnover battle?’”
The Eagles surpassed expectations in 2021 by cruising to nine regular-season wins, finishing second place in the NFC East and earning a postseason berth via the wild card. It was a short-lived berth though, as the Eagles were defeated by a final score of 31-15 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in that wild card game.
Sirianni and Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen had entered the regular-season with the intention of deploying a balanced offensive attack that was equally as effective both passing and running the ball. That line of thinking dramatically shifted midseason, as the Eagles found an increased amount of success by becoming a run-first team, partially due to the overall effectiveness of quarterback Jalen Hurts’ dual-threat abilities, and an excellent offensive line that consistently won the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Philadelphia’s best stretch of the regular season occurred between Weeks 10 and 17, where they won six-of-seven contests while scoring an average of 27.2 points per game. Philadelphia reached or surpassed the 30-point mark on four occasions within that span and totaled an astounding 1,335 rushing yards (190.72/game), while reaching the end zone 10 times on the ground. Sirianni and Steichen undeniably unlocked something within Philadelphia’s rushing offense that allowed it to make some late-season magic.
Judging by Sirianni’s comments, it looks like the Eagles are wisely going to continue that rushing momentum into 2022. Hurts isn’t going to develop into a gunslinging quarterback in the mold of Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen overnight. It’s just not who he is and Philadelphia’s current roster is constructed to win games by dominating the trenches on both sides.
That’s not to say the Eagles shouldn’t attempt to improve their passing offense. They should. General Manager Howie Roseman owns three first-round selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, all of which occur between 15th and 19th overall. The Eagles are largely expected to use one of those selections on a wide receiver that’s worthy of serving as DeVonta Smith’s running mate. Philadelphia lacked depth at the position in 2021 and surrounding Hurts and Smith with more capable pass-catchers in hopes of keeping opposing defenses honest and opening up more space near the line of scrimmage makes sense.
The Eagles will draft a receiver at some point, but Sirianni sounds committed to running the football. It’s not pretty or trendy, but it makes sense given what we witnessed throughout 2021.
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