It wasn’t that long ago.
For the first five weeks of the season, the Eagles played football like anyone else in the NFL.
Had a 259-yard game against the Vikings, a 201-yard game at Tampa, 159 yards against the Rams.
Going into the Jets game, the Eagles were 2n.d in the NFL with 164 rushing yards per game and 6th with 4.6 yards per play.
Then everything changed overnight.
The Eagles have 18 over the past three weeksth with 79 yards per game and 31St with just 3.1 yards per carry.
They averaged 2.9 yards per punt against the Dolphins and 2.7 against the Commanders. It’s the first time in nine years they’ve averaged under 3.0 in back-to-back games. In September 2014, they averaged 2.2 in a win over Washington and 1.8 the following week in a loss to the 49ers.
The last time they averaged under 3.0 in back-to-back games and won both was in 2001 – they averaged 2.6 in a win over the Chargers and 2.7 in a win at Washington.
They’re also averaging 3.6 against the Jets, the first time they’ve gone 3.6 or worse in three straight games since 2009 (3.6 against the Saints, 3.4 against the Chiefs, 3, 6 against the Bucs).
Their 3.1 average over the last three games is their worst over a three-game stretch since they averaged 3.0 over games against the Cowboys, Jets and Washington in 2015.
You get the picture.
The easy answer is that they really miss Cam Jurgens, who has missed the last four games with a foot injury. Jurgens has a 64.3 block grade from Pro Football Focus and his backup, Sua Opeta, is at 47.4.
Juergens’ trip to IR coincided with when the running game started sputtering.
Jurgens is eligible to return to action Sunday for Dallas, and the Eagles hope he will be there. But a right guard shouldn’t make that much of a difference.
Another possible factor is that they simply didn’t run much early in games, so the running backs and o-linemen didn’t have a chance to get into any sort of rhythm.
Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson suggested Tuesday that the Eagles weren’t running the ball enough. Johnson is the offensive player.
“I think the biggest thing is we’ve got to keep putting guys in great spots and keep hitting them,” he said. “The running game can be unique at times. It can be hard sledding for a while and then you keep bumping and hitting and then you break one and that way you even out your yards per carry.
“But for us, what we want to accomplish is really try to be both efficient and explosive in the run game. We have to keep finding ways to put guys in great spots. Make sure our bearings are right and make sure we do a great job of playing after being locked down to tier two and tier three.
There have been games where Johnson has just abandoned the run. The rears only had six 1’sSt-Half carries in loss to Jets and 16 total rushing attempts. The running backs had a total of 23 rushing attempts in the win over the Dolphins. And on Sunday in Washington, the running backs had just three 1sSt-half carries before finally getting involved in the second half with 15 runs.
That’s a total of just 23 rushing attempts for the running backs before halftime over the past three games.
Now, it’s not like the Eagles are dysfunctional on offense. Over the past three weeks, they have averaged 28 points (5th-best), 280 passing yards (4th-best) and 359 yards per game (7th– the best).
But it’s no secret that this offense works better — and this team functions better — when the running game is clicking.
“Right now, I feel like the offense is small, just throw it to AJ and it’s hard for me to say that’s not the thing to do,” Jason Kelce said. “He catches everything, he’s open, he looks like everything the weather.
“The run game, we have to figure some things out. I feel like we’re kind of slowing down there a little bit, but when you have playmakers out there, if they really want to fight to take the run and stop some things, it puts a strain on some other areas as well with the playmakers we have on board at wide receiver and tight end really, and then with the quarterback’s ability to get to all those things, we feel very confident.”