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Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Eagles rushing poorly

October 12, 2005

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— Even with a Pro Bowl running back and a mobile quarterback, the Philadelphia Eagles have the NFL's worst rushing attack.

Five games into the season, the Eagles are last in rushing with an average of 64.2 yards on the ground per game. Philadelphia's average of 17.6 rushes per game also is last in the league.

"We can do a better job there. We will continue to look at that. We have to do a better job," Eagles coach Andy Reid said as Philadelphia entered a bye week with a 3-2 record.

The Eagles had to rely on the pass in the last two games because they fell behind 17-0 in both games. However, in a 37-31 comeback victory over Kansas City last week, Reid stayed with the pass even after the Eagles took a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

They had no chance to establish a running game in a 33-10 loss Sunday to Dallas.

Brian Westbrook, who had a breakout year last season and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl, has more yards receiving (292) than rushing (231). He's carried 55 times and averaged 4.2 yards per attempt. Lamar Gordon has 19 carries for 62 yards, and Reno Mahe has run twice.

The running backs have 76 carries of the season's 312 total plays. That's an average of just 24.3 percent, down from 32.8 percent last season.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb, once feared for his scrambling ability, isn't running much this season, partly because he's hampered by an assortment of injuries. McNabb has 10 attempts for nine yards - five were actual carries, four were kneel-downs and one was a botched lateral.

McNabb said last week he believed the Eagles eventually would have a more balanced offense.

"Well, when you come to November and December, running the ball is key," McNabb said. "In tough games you need to be able to pick up yards in the running attack, whether it is keeping the clock moving, moving the chains or keeping their offense off the field."

The declining rushing numbers, not coincidentally, started last season when wide receiver Terrell Owens arrived in Philadelphia. Owens invigorated the passing attack, helping McNabb have his best season and establish a team record with 3,875 yards passing.

The Eagles averaged 102.4 yards rushing per game last year, the lowest since Reid arrived in 1999. They averaged 125.9 yards in 2003 and 138.8 yards in 2002.

Reid's reliance on the pass has allowed McNabb, Owens, Westbrook and tight end L.J. Smith to put up big numbers so far.

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