Eagles analysis

Bucs the latest team to realize you can't run on the Eagles

The Eagles' run defense was outstanding again Monday night.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Go ahead. Try running on the Eagles. Just try. You can't do it.

Three games into the 2023 season, the Eagles have allowed approximately nil on the ground. Opposing teams have rushed 48 times for just 145 yards, an average of 48 yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry.

They’re only the 18th team since 1948 – a span of 76 years – to allow 145 or fewer rushing yards through the first three games of a season.

And they’re the ninth team in the last 25 years to allow six or fewer rushing first downs through three games.

For the first time since at least 1949 – and quite possibly ever – the Eagles haven’t allowed a run longer than 12 yards in their first three games. Data before 1949 isn’t available.

The Eagles-Bucs game in Tampa on Monday night was a battle between two of the NFL’s best run defenses through two games. 

How did it go?

The Eagles ran for 201. The Bucs ran for 41.

The Eagles are allowing the fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL and they’re third in yards allowed per rush (behind the Titans at 2.6 and the Browns at 2.8).

And, yes, they’re the only team that hasn’t allowed a run longer than 12 yards.

You can’t run on them. Nobody has yet.

Try and you’ll find some combination of Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox and Milton Williams waiting for you.

And it will not go well.

You could tell the Bucs wanted to establish the run early Monday night. And you can’t blame them. Running the ball is the best way to keep the Eagles’ pass rushers off your quarterback.

Of six plays on their first drive, three were called runs. But the Eagles stuffed them and the Bucs had to throw on 3rd-and-8. Incomplete. Punt. And that set the blueprint for the evening.

In all, seven of Tampa's first 16 plays were runs. But they went for just 15 yards. They only ran 10 more times the rest of the game. Which played right into the Eagles’ hands. 

The Eagles made the Bucs one-dimensional and that played right into the Eagles' hands.

Of Tampa’s 17 running plays, 10 went for two yards or less and only two were longer than four yards. 

In all, the Eagles have faced 48 running plays this year and only nine have gone for more than five yards. Twenty-four of them – exactly half – have been for two yards or less.

The Eagles’ run defense even got on the scoreboard Monday night in the Eagles' 25-11 win at Raymond James Stadium.

Late in the third quarter, Rachaad White got the ball on first down on the Bucs’ 1-yard-line. Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis – the Eagles' Great Wall of Georgia – got huge push and Nicholas Morrow burst through the opening they carved out to stuff White for a one-yard loss and a safety.

It was the first time the Eagles recorded a safety by tackling a running back in the end zone since 2013, when Cedric Thornton stopped Matt Forte for a two-yard loss in the end zone in the Eagles’ 54-11 win at the Linc.

The Patriots ran for 76 yards in the opener but only 3.5 yards a pop. The Vikings were just 9-for-28 rushing for 3.5. The Bucs finished 17-for-41 and 2.4.

This is only the fifth time since 1955 the Eagles have allowed 41 or fewer rushing yards in consecutive games. 

The interior linemen have been tremendous – both against the run and pressuring the quarterback – but linebackers Zach Cunningham and Morrow, edge rusher Josh Sweat and safety Reed Blankenship have all done outstanding work stuffing the run as well.

For the sake of balance, it’s important to remember the Patriots, Vikings and Bucs are not elite running teams and the assignments will get much tougher. 

The Eagles will see the Dolphins with Devon Achane and Raheem Mostert. They’ll see the 49ers with Christian McCaffrey. The Cards with James Conner, the Bills with James Cook, the Cowboys with Tony Pollard, the Chiefs with Isiah Pacheco and the Seahawks with Kenneth Walker III.

Next week on a short week they’ll have to contend with Washington’s Brian Robinson Jr., who’s off to a hot start.

But so far so good. 

And it’s going to take one heck of an effort to pile up the yards on Carter, Davis and Company. Nobody’s done it yet. Nobody’s come close.

Contact Us