A balanced offensive game plan. Those are words that are rarely used when discussing the Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Andy Reid. The Eagles coaching staff is a pass-happy bunch who has filled the offensive skill positions with players to enable them to be so “pass-happy”. Players like receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, tight ends Brent Celek and Clay Harbor, and even running back LeSean McCoy coming out of the backfield put the Eagles in perfect position to strike an air raid at a moments notice.
And yet quarterback Michael Vick has a total quarterback rating of just 55.4 through the first quarter of the season. Turnovers have been the Eagles Achilles heal, there is no denying that. However the play from the offensive line has been a very sore spot through three games — take note, I said three games, not four. But above it all has been the atrocious play calling and game plan put in to place by the coaching staff.
All that changed last night. The Eagles gave LeSean McCoy a heavy work load that paid off as the Eagles topped the New York Giants 19-17. McCoy, who has been in a verbal back-and-forth with Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, carried the pigskin 23 times for 123 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per carry. Last night market the third consecutive game that McCoy garnished 100+ yards against the Giants dating back to last season. Oddly enough, it’s the second time McCoy reached the 100-yard plateau this season — the first time being in the season opener against the Browns — both games McCoy touched the ball 20 or more times.
So what is the common factor here? Get McCoy heavily involved. If the Eagles want to be a pass-happy team then they must first set up the run to keep the defense guessing and bring those safety’s in towards the line of scrimmage. Then, and only then, will the speed demons be able to stretch the ball down field for the big plays the Eagles covet so much.
The question is will the Eagles maintain a balanced attack going forward? While nobody outside of the NovaCare Complex truly knows for sure, CSNPhilly.com’s Ruben Frank believes it should.
“McCoy makes this team go. He is a special, special player, and by the time all is said and done, he could very well be the greatest tailback in franchise history. He must have the football. A lot. Period. Case closed. I don’t care about matchups. I don’t care what team has a shaky secondary. I don’t care how good some other team’s defensive front is. The game plan Sunday was lots of balance and lots of Shady, and because of it, the Eagles are on top of the NFC East.”
Meanwhile, ESPN’s NFC Blogger Dan Graziano believes that while the Eagles should continue the trend of a balanced attack, he senses the Eagles will fall back in to the pattern of looking to exploit the weaknesses of the opposing defense.
“ I continue to believe the Eagles will alter their offensive game plan depending on their opponents and matchups. They were having success with the run game Sunday night, picking up big chunks of yardage, and that’s why they stuck with it. If they’re not hitting big plays, they’re not going to stick with it. The Eagles want big plays on offense.”
As much as I value Ruben’s belief that the Eagles need to continue last night’s trend, and he isn’t saying the Eagles will, he is merely stating his opinion, I have to agree with Dan Graziano that the Eagles will resort back to looking for the “weaknesses” of the opposing defense.
Nonetheless, the saying goes in this league a win is a win is a win. And last night the Eagles won, albeit they did force another close game. But the play calling was right and the turnovers, well there wasn’t any last night. So I expect the “fire Reid, bench Vick” chatter will die down until the next time things go wrong!
Photo courtesy of the Official Eagles Website