The Ground Game

Posted: July 21st, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles led the NFL in rushing yards in 2021 despite not having a star runner. There was no Wilbert Montgomery, Brian Westbrook or Shady McCoy to pile up 100-yard games and make highlight plays.

So how did the Eagles do it?

  • Great OL
  • Running QB
  • Group of talented runners
  • Great play design by Jeff Stoutland

There is also the simple fact that the Eagles committed to the run. This wasn’t an attempt to get back to the old days. It just so happened to be the best way for the Eagles to move the ball and score points.

Check out this video to get an idea how creative and effective the run game was.

Most of the pieces are back so the Eagles should be a very good running team this year as well.

One of the stars of the video is RB Jordan Howard, who is currently unsigned. The Eagles could add him in the lead up to the season. For now, the Eagles are going to focus on their returning RBs and UDFA Kennedy Brooks.

Miles Sanders played in 12 games last year. He ran for 754 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Amazingly, he didn’t score a TD. Sanders is a gifted player who can deliver big plays. He also is highly frustrating. Sanders can fall in love with the big play and leave yards on the field. Instead of hitting the hole that is right there he will look for the home run and gain minimal yards. He also has some mental lapses. Still, he is a weapon when he’s got the ball in his hands. Sanders has good speed and legit big play ability.

Boston Scott was the #3 RB last year. He has a shot to be the top backup this season. Scott is compact at 5-6, 203. He’s coming off a good season, where he set career highs in carries and TDs. Scott averaged 4.3 yards per carry. He didn’t have a carry until late October, then Scott came alive and helped the Eagles get hot and finish with a winning record. Scott will never be a feature back but he has developed into a solid role player. He runs hard, can break tackles and has some wiggle. He is an effective receiver and has experience as a returner.

Kenny Gainwell had a good rookie season, running for 291 yards and catching 33 passes. I think he’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be. Gainwell looked like a natural receiver. He was a better inside runner than I anticipated. Gainwell is only 5-9, 201 so he’s never going to be mistaken for Earl Campbell, but he does run hard and doesn’t go down on first contact.

It certainly is possible Gainwell could be the primary backup this season. He will battle Scott this summer.

Jason Huntley is in his third season with the Eagles. He’s got 19 offensive touches in his career so it is hard to say much about him. He hasn’t shown enough in practice for the coaches to get him into games. Huntley lacks ideal size at 5-9, 193. He’s more of a specialty player (returner/receiver).

Let’s talk about Kennedy Brooks, the UDFA. Here is what I wrote back in May.

Ran for 1,000 or more yards each of his last three seasons. Averaged 7.0 yards per carry and had 31 TDs. Went undrafted because he’s not special athletically and also isn’t special in terms of size or skill. Just a good RB. Those guys tend to go undrafted, but they can still carve out an NFL career. Brooks is an interesting runner. He doesn’t make hard lateral cuts. He goes slow, reads blocks and then fires upfield. Brooks runs behind his pads and goes through contact. He breaks a lot of tackles. Brooks doesn’t have breakaway speed. He ran 4.59 at the Combine and that’s what you see on the field. He needs work as a receiver and a blocker.

Brooks is a good fit for the Eagles running scheme. He can take advantage of good blocking and get up to the second level. It will be interesting to see if he can deliver big plays in the NFL. The lack of speed wasn’t as big a deal in the Big 12. Brooks also isn’t meant to be an NFL workhorse. His best shot is being part of RB by committee.

Brooks was 209 pounds at his Pro Day. That’s okay size, but not big. He isn’t a battering ram like Jordan Howard was, but Brooks is physical and does regularly break tackles.

The thing I loved most about watching Jordan Howard is what a North-South runner he was. No dancing. No hesitation. He hit the hole and fought his way through/past anyone in his way.

Brooks will be interesting to watch. The Eagles could use his skill set. He has NFL talent and he’ll have a legit opportunity to make the roster. Beyond just making the team, Brooks could challenge for playing time. That will all be up to him and how well he plays this summer. There should be plenty of practice reps for the RBs to show what they can do.

Hopefully the Eagles will not lead the NFL in rushing this year. We want to see the passing game open up and become a bigger part of the offense. Running the ball can win you games. Throwing the ball can win you titles.


Here is a good piece on Jalen Hurts and expectations by some crusty old sportswriter…I mean the venerable Les Bowen.

Thankfully he’s better at writing than he is retiring.


One Comment on “The Ground Game”

  1. 1 Eagles News: The black helmet reveal is being teased - Ravens Rundown said at 10:23 AM on July 22nd, 2022:

    […] The Ground Game – Iggles BlitzMiles Sanders performed in 12 video games final yr. He ran for 754 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Amazingly, he didn’t rating a TD. Sanders is a gifted participant who can ship massive performs. He additionally is extremely irritating. Sanders can fall in love with the massive play and depart yards on the sphere. Instead of hitting the opening that is proper there he’ll search for the house run and achieve minimal yards. He additionally has some psychological lapses. Still, he is a weapon when he’s bought the ball in his fingers. Sanders has good pace and legit massive play capacity. […]