The Philadelphia Eagles were the hottest ticket in town to start the NFL season. There was so much buzz about Chip Kelly's offense coming in and revolutionizing the league, especially after their season-opening win against the Washington Redskins. But while the dust has settled since then on the "revolutionizing the NFL" talk for Kelly's offense, the Eagles still currently lead the NFL in rushing offense.
Sure, the Eagles have had their issues on both sides of the ball. But as they sit just one game back of the division-leading Dallas Cowboys, to whom they lost 17-3 last week, you can't say that a lack of running the rock effectively has been their problem.
They're actually doing that pretty well through the first seven games.
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There are three main reasons the Eagles have gotten off to such a great start with their rushing offense.
1. The level of play from the offensive line has been fantastic.
All five starters along the offensive line have a positive run-blocking grade from the stat-based website, Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Starting left guard Evan Mathis has set the bar this season for how guards are supposed to get it done. He's PFF's top-rated guard by a wide margin, and he attributes a lot of the Eagles' success to the offensive scheme and their talented running back, LeSean McCoy, via Philly.com:
It does create more lanes for a running back like LeSean, who is shifty and can find an open holes pretty well.
On this play, you'll see the read-option from Nick Foles and the Eagles offense.
There looks to be a quick-toss option to the wide receiver who's in motion that adds another wrinkle to this particular play as well.
But you'll notice Mathis in the red circle just completely dominate his opponent physically as McCoy takes the handoff for 10 yards up the field.
Mathis takes his man up the field to finish him off and leaves plenty of room for McCoy to get through and make a play underneath. McCoy does a good job of reading the second block and making the correct move in the open field.
Mathis shows a mean streak as he finishes off his block by driving his man into the ground. It's actually something that Mathis shows a few times each game, taking defensive linemen and driving them into the ground.
2. LeSean McCoy is a stud.
McCoy has the speed and quickness combination that would serve him well in any offense, regardless of the scheme.
But after seven games with Chip Kelly, McCoy is leading the NFL in rushing with 685 yards. That puts him on pace for 1,565 yards on the season, which would beat his career high of 1,309 back in 2011.
It's not just talent that McCoy possesses, although he's not short on that either. Whenever you see an elite running back leading the NFL in rushing, you have to know that it's only possible if the guys up front are doing everything correct.
In this play below, you'll see a little bit of everything from McCoy.
Again, it's the read-option play.
McCoy does a good job of pressing the hole before he makes any moves to the outside on this play. He goes to slide into the available hole, but it gets cut off by the 1-technique defensive tackle.
The Giants safety (No. 25) comes down to help on McCoy as he plants and drives off his left foot to jump to the outside.
He gets to the outside, and by the time he does so and accelerates, the Giants safety is looking at IR with two broken ankles.
The Eagles' dominant offensive line and McCoy's skill set will be on display in those two key games.
3. An athletic running quarterback
The last reason the Eagles and Coach Kelly have had such success on the ground is that their quarterback is as good as it gets when it comes to running the football.
Most weeks it's been Michael Vick under center for the Eagles, and we all know of his abilities to tuck and run with the ball.
Vick's ability to run the football has been recently overshadowed by his inability to stay healthy. But if he can find a way to do that, Kelly's offense will more resemble what he wants to do rather than what he's stuck with in Nick Foles.
If the linebackers and safeties have to account for the quarterback as a running threat, it opens up more options and possibilities for the running back.
These are the three reasons why the Eagles are currently leading the NFL in rushing. They have the most dominant run-blocking offensive line in the NFL, McCoy continues to make big-time plays, and as long as there's a chance Vick will be in the game, the threat of run is always going to be there.
As we get later into the season and weather becomes more of a factor, the Eagles' ability to run the football effectively should serve them well.
It's not a gimmicky offense when a team can simply line up and beat you at the line of scrimmage, and that's exactly what the Eagles can do right now. Whether it's through offensive line play or simply that McCoy is better than your defender in space, simply put, Kelly has this Eagles team rushing the football with ease right now.