“On paper we have a great offense. Unfortunately paper doesn't win you games." – Zach Ertz.
The Eagles tight end speaks wisdom. Even while his personal stats (13 catches in two games) benefit from a system so pass-crazed that Andy Reid scoffs at it, Ertz realizes the Eagles cannot win if they cannot run.
“You can’t be throwing the ball 40 times in a game,” Ertz said after Sunday’s 27-20 loss at Kansas City. “Low 30’s is probably where you want him (QB Carson Wentz) at, 30-30 – 30 runs, 30 passes.”
In the end, Coach Doug Pederson called 56 pass plays (including sacks and scrambles), just 13 runs. As usual, when the first few rushes failed, he surrendered half the offense. By contract – and I hate using Reid for contrast – KC’s Kareem Hunt gained 9 yards on his first eight carries. On the next, he scampered for 53. Big Red’s patience paid off.
You may argue that modern offenses eschew the run and the Eagles percentage of passing plays typically falls within the NFL average. That ignores that Wentz got hit 10 times Sunday and would have been blasted more if he were less mobile. Pederson, as a former backup QB, must realize his play calling is a poor recipe for Wentz’s survival, let alone success.
Let me take a time out from this rant to state: While Sunday’s loss was frustrating, there was actually much to be encouraged about. The Eagles hung tough in Arrowhead with a Super Bowl contender. The defensive line again shined, the battered secondary hung in and Wentz – despite ups and downs – put together a nice late drive. They can win this division.
OK, back to bitching.
The refusal to run lies mostly on Pederson – but not exclusively. The finger must be pointed at GM Howie Roseman who, after terming this year’s RB draft “historic,” ended up with the only one (Donnell Pumphrey) who can’t play. Wendell Smallwood, Roseman’s pick last year, also appears useless.
Darren Sproles (10 rushes for 48 yards) can’t be expected, at 34, to carry the load. Undrafted Corey Clement waits his turn. And LeGarrette Blount, two games in, already seems like one of those quickie Vegas marriages all sides regret the next morning.
Blount had no carries Sunday, and Pederson had no explanation. On WIP Monday, the coach fumbled around the issue, saying “the way the game unfolded” kept him from running the ball – not acknowledging that as head coach, he’s supposed to dictate how the game unfolds.
To his credit, Blount avoided burying his coach when reporters circled his locker and kept poking him (figuratively) with sharp sticks. His patience finally gave out on the plane ride home when he glanced at his Twitter feed.
“I really could care less about all y'all fantasy teams,” he tweeted back the trolls. “Get outta my mentions with that s---.”
I don’t care about rude fans’ fantasy teams either. But I care about the Eagles. And I don’t like seeing inane game execution take away this team’s opportunity to make the playoffs.
Listen to Zach Ertz, Doug. The kid went to Stanford.