Nick Sirianni heard the clamors from Philadelphia Eagles' fans to run the ball more during his three seasons as head coach, even if his team has the second-most rushing yards and most rushing attempts in the NFL since he became head coach.
After just nine carries from the running backs in Sunday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Sirianni was greeted entering the NovaCare Complex with fans having a sign to "Run The Ball." Sirianni at least gave those fans a cup of coffee.
"I love our fans. I love their passion and their energy. That's not the first time I've heard 'run the ball.' You know what, we do need to continue to try to run the ball," Sirianni said Wednesday, via team transcript. "I'm not surprised by that, and I appreciate their energy because I know that same energy of those guys sitting out there this morning when I drove in, they're going to have that same energy when they're cheering us on in the stadium and I'm thankful and grateful for that."
Do the Eagles need to run the ball more, or do they need to run the ball better? Philadelphia has 343 fewer rushing yards than last year on 35 fewer carries through 12 games. The Eagles are also averaging 4.1 yards per carry in 2023 compared to 4.6 in 2022, having 18 rushing touchdowns this year to 23 last year.
Eagles running backs have not been as efficient through 12 games this season as last either. Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott have combined for 1,231 yards and 4.6 yards per carry (265 carries). D'Andre Swift, Gainwell, and Scott have combined for 1,059 yards on 4.4 yards per carry (239 carries).
The biggest difference in the running game is Jalen Hurts. Through 12 games last season, Hurts had 132 carries for 609 yards and nine touchdowns (4.6 yards per carry). He has 121 carries for 430 yards and 12 touchdowns this year (3.6 yards per carry).
Teams are also daring the Eagles to throw the ball with single-high safeties. The Eagles have a philosophy to pass the ball to score points and run the ball to win games -- the latter is hard to accomplish when trailing (team has trailed by double digits over the last five games). Having just 33.2% of rushes that go five-plus yards (25th in NFL) doesn't help either, while also facing 27.2% of rush attempts with eight in the box.
The Eagles need to run the ball better, not more.