ANDY, MARTY: Run the ball.
Do it even if it doesn't work. Do it even if it means beating your head against a brick wall. Do it even if it results in fewer points being scored.
Friday morning, with those words, Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News launched into a well reasoned article assesing the state of the Eagles running game and Andy and Marty's desire for "efficient balance". Hoffman implores his readers to direct attention to the fact that the problem in the Eagles running game is not so much with Reid, but the player's he's chosen to execute his offense.
To start the season, no one would have been too concerned with the players he's chosen for the running game. At the start of the season, the Eagles had Brian Westbrook and "one of the best" offensive lines in the NFL. Now, three quarters of the way through the season the depth of the Offensive line is being tested and Brian Westbrook has practiced 1 time in the last 2 weeks.
An efficient running game is terribly important. However when it is not working, even "run reliant" teams will abandon it. Hoffman notes:
But last week, on a lousy weather day, the Giants called a game in the first half that Reid could have called. The run game didn't work and the Giants abandoned it. The running backs got 28 yards on their first 12 carries and the Giants totally flipped their philosophy - based upon production, just like Andy/Marty. Even as the third quarter began, they continued to abandon it. After one drive in the third period, the Giants had 28 called passing plays, 13 runs and one kneel-down.
Oh, and the running Redskins did the same thing when they couldn't run. They did not beat their heads against the wall. In the first half, they called 17 pass plays and only nine runs.
If ever there was a game that offered a "run first" opportunity it was that one - with the torrential rain and sloppy field - but these two "run first" teams abandoned the run when it wasn't working. The Giants only returned to it when the game was well in hand.
The philosophy of the NFL has changed and Andy isn't all that different. Sunday, when the first 10 plays are called and the Eagles only have 2 rushing attempts, don't be upset, it's the way of the NFL today. I have no problem with an early pass to run ratio of 4 to 1 as long as the Eagles are able to move the football with a quick passing attack. If Andy calls multiple deep passes in those first 10 plays, then it's time to wonder just who he's a disciple of: Bill Walsh or Mike Martz.