Yesterday at the Eagles practice they spent a great deal of time on the running game, but they were unable to run the ball effectively against their defense. The Birds were also unable to run the ball well on Thursday night against the Packers. Some of the problem with their running game was all the blitzing by Green Bay, but the other reason was the lack of movement in the interior of the offensive line. Unfortunately, I think the problem inside is undersized center Jason Kelce.
I think the Eagles should have moved on from Kelce, by putting the bigger and stronger Isaac Seumalo in there at center. The big nose tackles in the league are going to eat Kelce alive. He can’t get any movement in the middle of the offensive line and it’s going to limit the running game. The running back can’t cut back if the center is getting pushed into the backfield.
The inability to run the football is going to put more pressure on quarterback Carson Wentz and that’s the last thing you want to do. If they can’t run the football, they will become one-dimensional. Once they starting passing too much, it’s going to allow defensive linemen to pin their ears back and get hits on Wentz. A good running game is the best friend of a young quarterback.
If they would move to Seumalo now, it will mean the Birds will have a big, physical and seasoned offensive line next year and the following year. It makes no sense to go out and acquire a big physical running back like LaGarrette Blount, then put a small line in front of him. You can’t run the ball inside with Blount, if you have an undersized center getting pushed back into the backfield all the time. As I said earlier, it eliminates the cutback, which greatly injures the running game.
I feel good about the blocking in the running game throughout the rest of the offensive line. Jason Peters still has the power to crush people at his left tackle position. Seumalo is lined up next to Peters and still getting comfortable there, but he’s a big physical and powerful blocker.
I like the right side of the line with big Brandon Brooks at right guard and the athletic and strong Lane Johnson at right tackle. They’re getting more and more comfortable playing side by side and hopefully Johnson will be there consistently without any suspensions.
Another issue in the running game is the blocking of tight end Zach Ertz. He’s one of the best pass receiving tight ends in the league, but his blocking continues to be a work in process. He’s got to keep working at it. If he will go out and just battle each linebacker or defensive end, it will allow the running back to get yardage. He’s never going to be a great blocker, but he can be a decent blocker by just staying with it. They may have to get Brent Celek back on the field for the running game.
I’m also concerned about the health of running back Wendell Smallwood, who is nursing a hamstring injury. He didn’t play in the game against the Packers and wasn’t in uniform yesterday at practice. These are valuable snaps that Smallwood could use.
Rookie Donnel Pumphrey is going to end his career before it starts if he continues to fumble. Humphrey muffed a punt in the game against the Packers and he fumbled while carrying the ball in the game as well. Yesterday during the live period, Pumphrey fumbled. I have seen young running back destroy their careers quickly by fumbling. Right now, his career is in jeopardy because of all of these fumbles.