Shurmur: 'We’re going to run our offense'
LeSean McCoy, who remains the NFL’s rushing leader, has been held to 55 yards or fewer in three of the Eagles’ last four games. (USA Today Images)
The Eagles are struggling to run the football. The Raiders are among the best in the league against the run.
This is not the team you want to face when you’re trying to resuscitate your ground game.
The Eagles’ rushing attack has been sputtering lately, really since injuries sent the Eagles on a quarterback carousel a few weeks ago.
Obviously the absence of Michael Vick has been a big part of it. Vick was 15th in the NFL in rushing yards when he first hurt his hamstring three weeks ago against the Giants.
But it’s deeper than that.
The yards just haven’t been there lately for LeSean McCoy, who remains the NFL’s rushing leader but has been held to 55 yards or fewer in three of the Eagles’ last four games.
Has the instability at quarterback hurt the Eagles’ ground attack?
McCoy says yes.
He sees teams defending the Eagles differently now.
“I think the main focus when you face this team is you want to to stop the run,” McCoy said. “That’s the main goal of defensive teams. They’re coming in here and trying to stop the run. Kind of making the passing game secondary. As you see, a lot of times they’re daring us to beat them by the pass.
“We’ve got to get the run game going. We’ve got to. Just because the defense wants to stop it, we’ve got to find a way to adjust it and make plays.”
McCoy sees what we all see.
When he gets the football, there just isn’t anywhere for him to go.
“[Teams are paying] more attention to really try to contain the backs, keep everything in front of them,” he said. “The backers are way more into the line of scrimmage than usual. Everything just seems so cluttered, so packed.”
The Eagles, 3-5 and seeking to avoid a third straight loss, face the 3-4 Raiders at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at O.co Coliseum, formerly Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Raiders are the only NFL team that hasn’t allowed a run of 20 yards or more, and they’re fourth overall vs. the run.
McCoy averaged 6.0 yards per carry and 117 yards per game the first four games this year and 66 yards per game and 3.6 per carry the last four.
His only big game in the last month was a 116-yard performance in Tampa.
McCoy said the big holes he’s seen in the past, mainly during his 2011 all-pro season, just aren’t there right now because defenses are crowding the line of scrimmage and daring the Eagles to throw.
That means he has to change the way he runs.
“Sometimes where things might be bunched up, instead of staying patient and just trusting it’s going to crack ... I kind of get unfocused and try to make something out of it,” McCoy said.
“I’ve got to give credit to certain defenses for making plays and just being around the ball and crowding it up. Not too many lanes. But there are sometimes where I can just trust it a little more.”
The Eagles’ offensive line certainly has been a disappointment. They just aren’t blocking as well as they should be.
If Foles can make some plays down the field Sunday, it could force the Raiders to honor the pass and open things up for McCoy.
“We’ve obviously got to make some plays in the passing game,” McCoy said. “There’s times where we might [have a chance] to get some positive yards on the ground, we’ve got to get that. There might not be a lot of opportunities for big plays running wise, but when there are opportunities, we’ve got to take it. We’ve got to capitalize [on] it.
“That’s part of the issue that’s going on. The opportunities are getting smaller and smaller, so when I get those opportunities I’ve got to take advantage.”
The Eagles averaged 198 rushing yards and 6.1 per carry in their first game, which were both best in the league by far through Week 4.
Since then, they’re 14th at 103 yards per game and 22nd at 3.7 per carry.
Those are tremendous drop-offs.
And on Sunday, they’ll be facing a Raiders defense that’s allowing 90 rushing yards per game and 3.6 per carry. Both are fourth-best in the league.
When they’re on the road, where they’re winless, the Raiders are actually allowing 134 rushing yards per game and 4.6 per carry.
At home, where they’re 3-1, teams are managing only 57 rushing yards per game and 2.6 per carry against Oakland.
“I think they’re playing well together,” McCoy said. “They all rally to the ball very well. They make plays. They’re a team that has a good group together. They seem to feed off each other and make plays off each other.
“Not too many big names where it’s like, ‘Wow,’ other than [defensive end Lamarr] Houston on the end, he’s pretty good, and [Charles] Woodson. Other than that, they just play well together.”