Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to live and die by the run game this season. Despite starting the year as one of the more pass-heavy offenses in the NFL, head coach Nick Sirianni quickly switched directions upon learning passing wasn’t the best way to utilize Hurts’ abilities.
The Eagles transformed into a ground and pound offense the rest of the way, a strategy that carried them into the postseason as a wild-card team.
The Eagles will likely try to lean on their run game against Tampa Bay
Ultimately speaking, Hurts and the Eagles will have to make some big plays through the air if they want to knock off Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are averaging 30 points of offense per game this season — they’ll likely score a lot of points on Sunday.
However, this doesn’t mean the Eagles will completely abandon what’s gotten them this far in the first place. The weather forecast predicts heavy rain and heavy wind — the perfect scenario for a team to establish the run early and often.
Between Hurts, a solid offensive line led by two All-Pros in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, and a deep running back room, the Eagles will presumably look to run the ball as much as possible.
The Eagles just handed Jalen Hurts a major weapon
The Eagles have the best rushing attack in the NFL. However, the Buccaneers have one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL. Led by defensive linemen Vita Vea, Shaquill Barrett, and Ndamukong Suh, the Bucs have a lot of success bottling up runs at the line of scrimmage this season.
The good news for Philly, however, is that their top running threat is returning to the lineup — just in time to face this ever-dreaded Tampa Bay front.
After missing the last several games with a broken hand, that he underwent surgery to fix, former Penn State running back Miles Sanders officially returned to Eagles practice this past week. He didn’t have a brace on, and current reports are signaling he will make the start against the Buccaneers.
This is a massive boost for Hurts and the Eagles. When healthy, Sanders has been Philadelphia’s lead back — he led all Eagles running backs with 754 rushing yards this past season. The one-two punch of Hurts and Sanders has been a productive one for Philadelphia all season long.
Will Hurts and the Philly rushing attack be enough?
As mentioned earlier this week, the outcome of Eagles/Buccaneers will likely come down to which team can make more big-time throws, despite the ugly weather conditions.
Tom Brady has a long history of playing well in rain and wind. Hurts, not so much.
The Eagles will ride Hurts and Sanders as long as possible this weekend. However, when the fourth quarter rolls around, Nick Sirianni will likely have to open up the playbook and start taking shots downfield. This is where Brady and the Bucs will seemingly gain the advantage.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.