The Philadelphia Eagles frequently infuriate fans like myself when they don't run the ball. Given that the Eagles have LeSean McCoy in the backfield, not giving it to him more often - at least enough so that Michael Vick doesn't throw 56 times - is always inexcusable. But for Philadelphia's lack of a balanced attack, it isn't the only team with this problem - as it might be even worse in Green Bay.
The Green Bay Packers aren't regarded as a team with a lot of problems, given their 2010 Super Bowl title and their 15-1 regular season in 2011. Yet they have a bigger problem with running the football than the Eagles - since even the Eagles ran more than 20 times in their season opening escape over the Cleveland Browns.
In contrast, the Packers only tried 14 rushing attempts for 45 yards against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 9 - with Aaron Rodgers leading the way with 27 yards. When he wasn't running, Rodgers threw 44 times for his typical 303 yards, which has usually been enough for Green Bay to win. Yet that kind of approach didn't work against the New York Giants in last year's playoffs, and it didn't work when losing to the 49ers.
San Francisco actually ran more than it passed and it worked for it, as the 49ers ran up 30 points despite being far less high powered than the Packers. Now that Green Bay has already lost as many times in the 2012 regular season as it did in 2011, the lack of balance is much more glaring. It wasn't a concern when Rodgers was a Super Bowl winner and MVP, but the Packers never seemed to plan ahead for when he didn't play like an MVP.
Green Bay has rarely been well known for its running game, as it has usually been a quarterback-centric franchise. But it used to have Ryan Grant run for over 1,000 yards a few years ago, at least. Yet it only had Rodgers and a declining Cedric Benson to run the ball on the dominant San Francisco defense. With a lack of depth at the run, it gives the Packers more of an excuse to make Rodgers do everything.
The Eagles don't have a Rodgers at quarterback to excuse their reliance on passing, as they only have a Michael Vick who threw four interceptions in Cleveland. But the Packers don't have a McCoy to take the burden off Rodgers either. If the Eagles had a Super Bowl winning quarterback and the Packers had a 1,000 yard rusher, things would be much easier for the both of them.
Given that Reid started his career in Green Bay and that the Packers started their 2010 playoff run by beating the Eagles, it makes sense that these two teams have the same problem. Of course, Green Bay is the only one of these franchises to win Super Bowls, and is more likely to get away with throwing 2-3 times more than it passes, thanks to Rodgers.
But if this approach has finally hit a wall for the Packers, maybe that should send a message to the Eagles as well. If it doesn't even work as much for Green Bay and Rodgers, there might be something to throwing less than 50 times a game - and running more than 20-25 times - after all.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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