Jordan Howard was out. Jalen Hurts was out. Boston Scott wasn’t quite out but was sick all week, played only three snaps and didn’t get any touches on offense.
Howard, Hurts and Scott have been huge components of the Eagles’ running game this year. They’ve combined to rush for 1,254 yards with a 5.4 average and 15 touchdowns, which is remarkable considering one is a quarterback, one was on the practice squad the first two months of the season and one didn’t have a carry until Week 7.
Without any of them and with only Miles Sanders - who's been hobbled with an ankle injury - and rookie 5th-round pick Kenny Gainwell - who's barely played lately - you had to wonder what would be left of the Eagles’ running attack against the Jets.
The answer was 185 more rushing yards.
The Eagles ran 41 times for 185 yards, 4.5 yards a pop, with Gainwell contributing their 19th rushing touchdown of the season.
How on Earth can a team rush for nearly 200 yards without three of its four leading running backs?
1) Nick Sirianni stuck with the running attack, even when it wasn’t working early, 2) Miles Sanders got a career-high 24 carries for 120 yards and 3) The Eagles have the best offensive line in football.
The Eagles have now rushed for at least 175 yards in six consecutive games, something no NFL team had done since the 1985 Bears.
That continues a crazy trend that has seen Sirianni completely revamp the way the Eagles play offensive football.
Through Week 7, the Eagles were 27th in the NFL with 23 rushing attempts per game and 14th with 117 rushing yards per game. The running game was an afterthought, Jalen Hurts was struggling under the weight of carrying the offense and the Eagles were 2-5.
Since then, the Eagles have averaged 41 runs and 211 yards per game, they’re 4-2 and despite the slow start they lead the NFL with 160 rushing yards per game.
Yeah, it was only the Jets, but to be able to play the same style of football without Howard, Scott and Hurts is remarkable.
“I think that goes back to the offensive line and Miles is a dynamic player,” Sirianni said after the Eagles' 33-18 win over the Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium. “There’s still an element of our offense they have to (prepare for). … It was great to see that.
"That’s who we are. That’s a big part of who we are and the type of run game we want and the physicalness and toughness. It was obviously great to see it flow the way it did today.”
The Eagles have rushed for 1,263 yards over the last six weeks. Since 1985, the only teams with more rushing yards over any six-game stretch are the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Ravens and the 2006 Falcons.
With 2,080 rushing yards through 13 games, the Eagles are averaging 160 rushing yards per game, 5th-highest in franchise history behind the 1947 through 1950 teams.
It seems like whoever Sirianni puts back there produces. Because the true star of this running game is the o-line.
Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson on the left side are crushing people. Jason Kelce is playing as well as ever, Lane Johnson has been dominating since he got back, and whoever plays right guard seems to hold his own as well.
That's why someone like Gainwell, who had just four carries in the Eagles’ last four games, can go out there and run 12 times for a career-high 54 yards Sunday, with an 18-yard touchdown run. He also caught five passes.
It took a while for the Eagles to figure out who they were, but now that they have, they’re easily the best running team in football.
And it doesn’t seem to matter who the running backs are or who the quarterback is. Right now, this running game is unstoppable.
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