Philadelphia Eagles Should Have Higher Focus on Running Game in 2009

Brian HagbergContributor IMay 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 1: Running back Brian Westbrook #36 of the Philadelphia Eagles practices during mini camp at the NovaCare Complex on May 1, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

All the offensive acquisitions this offseason should mean only one thing for the Philadelphia Eagles: run, run, run. 

Coming off a season in which the Eagles lost at least three games because they couldn't convert short yardage prompted head coach Andy Reid to beef up his offensive line (acquiring Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters from Buffalo and signing RT Stacy Andrews as a free agent).  Reid also drafted explosive RB LeSean McCoy in the second round. 

It would seem as though someone sent a message to Reid letting him know that when the Eagles ran the ball 24 or more times in a game they were 7-0 last season, 8-0 including the playoff win against the Giants.  Under 24 carries and Philadelphia was an abysmal 2-6-1, 3-7-1 including the postseason.

Reid's philosophy of pass first...and second...and third...and fourth has made the Eagles one of the most intriguing teams to watch in the NFL, but it's when his team is able to run the ball effectively that they are most successful.

It's not only the offense that will have a new look though as the defense will be without, at least temporarily, two of its most vital components.  The mastermind behind the aggressive blitz schemes that have made Philadelphia one of the most feared defenses in the league, Jim Johnson, is on an indefinite leave while battling cancer.  The heart and soul of the defense for the past 13 seasons, Pro Bowl FS Brian Dawkins has departed for Denver

The maturation of the linebacking corps, as well as the ability of the secondary to find a new leader, will determine how close this season's defense will resemble the one that finished third in total defense last year. 

In the final analysis, Philadelphia's success in 2009 will be decided by whether or not Reid can find a better balance between pass and run.  If Reid again becomes overwhelmed by his desire to go to the air, this highly talented team may not even take flight.