Another outing. Another defense that’s excellent against the run.
For the second straight game, the Eagles will face a top-five run defense. Last weekend it was the Arizona Cardinals. This weekend it will be the Detroit Lions, who allow the third-fewest rushing yards per game (82.7).
“They’re a tough defense, especially against the run,” LeSean McCoy said. “The good thing about Coach [Chip] Kelly, he’s going to run the ball, even if they’re one of the best teams against the run. And we’ll make plays, in the run game and also in the pass. The way Nick [Foles] is playing, he’s playing lights out. It kind of gives the defense a whatever-you-want-to-take kind of option. You want to take the run, we’ll throw the ball.”
The Lions have surrendered just five rushing touchdowns this season. Only five teams have given up fewer. They’re also holding opposing running backs to 3.7 yards per carry. Only three other teams have been stingier. That has a lot to do with the stout Detroit defensive line, particularly tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh who have well-earned reputations for clogging running lanes and hindering backs.
“Those two guys inside are outstanding, All-Pro caliber type players,” Chip Kelly said. “I don’t think the defensive ends (Ezekiel Ansah and Willie Young) get enough credit just because they have the two high-profile guys inside. They’re well coached. They’re physical. That’s the one thing that jumps out on tape, how physical that defensive front is. Anytime you can get guys to play that hard it’s going to be a challenge to play against them.”
The Eagles faced a similar challenge a week ago by attacking the Cardinals' strength and feeding McCoy. The Eagles’ running back carried the ball 19 times for 79 yards (4.2 yards per carry).
“We have a game plan going in and we’ll adjust,” Kelly said. “The way people have played us in a lot of games so far is not what we’ve seen on tape. There’s got to be in-game adjustments. I’ve been in games where you say ‘Hey, it’s going to be this way.’ And it’s not that way.”
Kelly said, regardless of the opponent, that the Eagles would “do what we do.” That generally involves getting the ball to McCoy, who’s on pace to easily surpass his single-season best for most total touches. McCoy already has 232 carries in 12 games. He also has 39 catches. His current high for touches in a season was 321 in 15 games in 2011. At the current rate, if McCoy plays all 16 games, he’ll finish with 361 touches.
That’s a heavy workload, but Kelly said McCoy still looks “fresh.” Asked to elaborate, Kelly offered a typical reply.
“Freshy. Fresher. Freshest. He looks good,” Kelly joked. “We don’t have any ill-effects. He’s out here practicing every day. He was out here practicing on Tuesday, running around. I think he looks good.”