So much of the Eagles offensive success has been rightly attributed to quarterback Carson Wentz, who remains the chief contender for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.
The biggest concern going into the season, the running game, has been among the most pleasant surprises.
In Sunday night’s 37-7 thumping of the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles rushed for 215 yards (6.5 average) and two touchdowns.
Getting Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins for a fourth round pick could prove to be a move that truly puts the Eagles over the top.
In only his second game with the Eagles, Ajayi rushed seven times for 91 yards, including a career-best 71-yard scamper.
The Eagles have received solid running from LaGarrette Blount and surprising production from Glassboro High graduate Corey Clement.
During training camp, it wasn’t known if Clement would even make the team as an undrafted free agent from the University of Wisconsin.
He has continued to come up with big plays, with the Dallas game the latest example. Against Dallas he rushed for 50 yards on just six carries. Clement scored on an 11-yard run and then added the two-point conversion run afterwards.
The Eagles are currently second in the NFL in rushing, averaging 144.6 yards per game. (Jacksonville is first, averaging 160.6 yards per game).
Just as impressive is the fact that the Eagles are averaging a healthy 4.6 yards per carry.
Blount is leading the Eagles in rushing with 561 yards (4.6 avg.) and two touchdowns. Clement has gained 232 yards (4.3 avg.). Ajayi in his two weeks has rushed for 168 yards (11.1 avg.) and one touchdown.
The depth is so strong that return specialist Kenjon Barner is the fourth running back who has big-play potential.
Another important aspect of the ground game is Wentz’s ability to run the ball. He has consistently been able to outrun fleet linebackers and turn the corner.
He is also so strong and been able to shake off tacklers and avoid big losses. He has rushed for 224 yards and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Besides the running game, the other part of the team that is justly receiving more notice lately is the offensive line. Even with likely Hall of Famer Jason Peters out for the season with an Achilles injury, the Eagles still have one of the best lines in the NFL, demonstrated by the success of the running game.
The starting line against Dallas was stellar, consisting of left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, center Jason Kelcie, right guard Brandon Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson, who should make his first Pro Bowl team.
The unit has also been strong in pass protection. Wentz has been sacked 23 times, but many of them come as he is extending plays with his great escapability.
Either way, the running game and the line are playing at a much higher level than forecast at the beginning of the season. And that is two reasons why the Eagles are a clear favorite to play in this year’s Super Bowl.