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A View From The Hall

Every week hall of fame writer Ray Diddinger writes a column for comcast sportsnet called A view from the hall. It's required reading for any discerning Philly sports fan...

This week, he said once again what what we all have about the run game but delved into some other interesting things...

The only thing more frustrating than watching the Eagles' 13-6 loss to Jacksonville was seeing Reid's press conference the following day. He said he should have run the ball more against the Jaguars. He promised to "dial up a few more runs" in the future.

Right, and Barbara Streisand is going to hit the campaign trail with Rick Santorum this weekend.

Here are the hard facts: Through eight games, the Eagles have 488 offensive snaps. If you subtract the quarterback scrambles and kneel-downs, they have run the ball 159 times. That is 32.6 per cent of the plays. In other words, Reid is calling two pass plays for every run. It is virtually the same ratio as last season, which even he agreed, was out of whack.

Andy vowed to change this year, remember? How's that working out?

It get's better after the jump...

Why does Jack Del Rio know our home stadium better than the guy that's coached here for 8 years?

On Sunday, Reid had Donovan McNabb throw 34 passes into winds that gusted up to 55 miles an hour. He called just 15 running plays for Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter. Meanwhile, Jacksonville ran the ball 46 times for 209 yards and won with a backup quarterback, David Garrard, completing 10 passes for a grand total of 87 yards.

The Jaguars adapted to the conditions and won on the road for the first time this season. Reid stuck to his game plan and saw his No. 1 ranked offense crumple like tissue paper in the heavy wind. The Eagles had 11 possessions and failed to pick up a first down on six of them. They were so futile that most of the fans left early in the fourth quarter with Jacksonville leading by just 10 points, 13-3.

He also responded to Andy's assertion that he "didn't do enough to get the team ready" and the fans criticism that Andy hasn't properly motivated the team. I agree with ray here, that's bull.

A coach may rattle a few windows if he feels his team is taking an opponent too lightly, but that was not the case here. The Eagles had to know what was at stake on Sunday. They had lost back-to-back games on last-second field goals. They had fallen to second place in the NFC East behind the Giants. They were playing at home against a Jaguar team that had beaten them in two previous meetings.

This was an absolute must game for the Eagles. There was no way they could have looked past it.

So I don't believe the Eagles came out of the tunnel flat. I think the way the game started -- which can be traced back to Reid's play calling -- drained the confidence and the emotion from the players and the crowd. That's not the same as lacking motivation. This is a whole different kind of flat line.

On Sunday, Reid's first 15 plays -- the script he worked on all week -- resulted in five incomplete passes, two sacks, two penalties (one of which was declined) and zero first downs. He opened with a wind-blown pass that clanked off the hands of Reggie Brown. Westbrook ran for four yards, setting up a third-and-six, but then Hank Baskett was called for a false start. On third and 11, McNabb was sacked for a six-yard loss.

Three plays, minus seven yards. Time of possession: One minute, 40 seconds. It was not the kind of start that builds momentum or confidence. Just the opposite.

After a fluttery Dirk Johnson punt, the Jaguars took the ball and drove it down the Eagles throats. Seven plays, 48 yards, most of it on the ground. Fred Taylor scored on an 18-yard run through the heart of the Eagles defense. At that point, the Jaguars had control of the game. They dominated the Eagles, not because they were more emotional, but because they were more physical across both lines and because they had a better game plan.

And finally he talks about what is possible from here on out and omce again gives a great historical perspective...

At 4-4 and facing a tough second half schedule, the Eagles are at a crossroads. What can they do to save their season? Well, they could do what Washington did at a similar point last year. They could do what the Giants did this season. They could make a concerted effort to -- dare I say it? --- run the football.

Last season, the Redskins were 5-6 with three consecutive losses and it looked like they were finished. Joe Gibbs and his staff decided to concentrate on one thing and that was running the football. The result: they won five games in a row with Clinton Portis rushing for over 100 yards in every game and they made it to the playoffs as a 10-6 wild card team.

This season, the Giants were 1-2 after a 42-30 loss in Seattle and the New York papers were speculating that coach Tom Coughlin had lost the team. It was a lot of the same stuff that is being said about Andy Reid now. In the bye week, the Giants coaches made the decision to become a smash-mouth team. Since then, they are 4-0 and they are averaging 170 yards per game on the ground. Tiki Barber is leading the league with 715 yards rushing and the Giants are sitting atop the NFC East with a 5-2 record.

Would the same approach save the Eagles season? They won't know unless they try.

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