FanPost

Brookover Respectfully Disagrees

In his Sunday morning piece for the Inquirer, Bob Brookover directly contradicts his colleague Rich Hofmann from the Daily News. As I noted yesterday Hoffman acknowledged the way in the NFL today is to throw the football when the running game isn't working.

Today Brookhover maintains:
It's no secret, however, that if something works other teams around the league start to adopt the same plan, and right now the two best teams in the NFL - the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans - are running the football more than they are throwing it.
This statement is rather misleading. It looks at the Giants and Titan's statistics as a whole, but does not consider the situations which enabled them to run so much. Consider their average yards per pass play, the Giants average a full half yard better than the Titans. The Giants offense has no problem moving the ball through the air, whereas the Titans are an average offense in general. The reason the Giants run the ball so much is because they so often have the lead. The reason the Titans run so much is that they don't want to turn the ball over.

The Giants are dominating teams both running and throwing the football, but the Titans are winning with effective game management and creating turnovers. In fact the Giants and Titans are #1 and 2 in the league in turnover margin. It's hard to assume an average value for a turnover - an interception in the end zone is worth more than one that occurs at the 40. But if we suppose about 3.5 points for a turnover than the Giants have benefited to the tune of 35 points from turnovers and the Titans - 45. The Eagles on the other hand have only netted 3.5 points from turnovers and I can point to 3 games which turned on turnovers (Baltimore, Dallas, and Cincinatti) just off of the top of my head.

Brookover reiterates the meme which says that an effective running game is a quarterback's best friend:
There's also the theory that a strong running game makes a decent quarterback good and a good quarterback great.
He quotes Quentin Mikel noting how important the Giant's running game has been to Eli Manning's success this year. He also cites several examples of teams who run more than they throw and suggest that their rushing attacks have helped out their quarterbacks.

The difference between the Eagles and these other teams is that the Eagle's running game is not effective. Against Arizona, the Eagles were able to run the ball because the Cardinals took a player out of the box relative to how many the Eagles had. Rather than offering a "8th man" they offered a 6th. Obviously it'll be easier to run when you've got more blockers then the opposing defense has defenders.

I agree with Hofmann, today is not the day to reinvent the wheel. The Eagles must run the football, but for them to be effective they need to do it out of a pass look. The power running game is something that will have to wait until free agency and the draft. I hope for third and one's sake that they do during the offseason.
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