Miles Sanders appeared to be imposing his will on the ground. Then, the Eagles mysteriously shifted to an aerial attack.
The rookie running back was averaging 4.9 yards per carry before the offense seemingly abandoned the run. Sanders finished with 17 carries for 83 yards against Miami, but 12 of those rushes came in the first half.
When the Eagles went up on the Dolphins 28-14 in the third quarter, the easy recipe seemed to be a ground-and-pound attack. It never happened.
On Wednesday afternoon, Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh tried to explain the thought process behind throwing the ball over feeding Sanders. According to Groh, it was a case of circumstance as the team reacted to the flow of the game.
“You guys are asking me like we made a decision to not run it … the run game was certainly in our thoughts and we wanted to continue to utilize the run,” Groh told reporters. “In the fourth quarter, we had to throw the ball a little bit and we got a three-and-out — on an unfortunate call, we got a three-and-out, which limited our plays in that series.”
The play Groh seemed to be referring to was on a 3rd-and-4 that went incomplete thanks to an offensive pass interference call on Nelson Agholor. The pass was intended for Alshon Jeffery, but Agholor was called for a questionable “pick play.”
“We got to stay on the field and sustain the drives and be able to use the run game as you guys are saying to take time off the clock,” Groh said.
It was a meaningless blurb in the grand scheme of things. Sanders was playing well and the Eagles should have kept feeding him.
“I thought Miles played really well. I think he continues to improve every week,” Groh said. “There was no conscious decision to do that [stray from the running game]. Some of it was dictated by the circumstance of the game. I thought we had good production in both the run and the pass.”
How Much Say Does Carson Wentz Have in Calling Plays?
One of the biggest questions in recent weeks has been about Carson Wentz’s role in the offense. Does the quarterback have the autonomy to switch plays at the line of scrimmage? Better yet, does he have input on the game plan?
Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh addressed the issue during his media availability by giving Wentz a vote of confidence. He thought the quarterback played extremely well, especially considering the intense scrutiny he was under, and revealed that Wentz sits down with the coaching staff every week to map everything out.
“He’s got a lot of input on that [the game plan],” Groh said. “Obviously we want to put the right plan together and plays he [Wentz] feels comfortable with. So we go through that exercise with him almost daily as we build the plan, you know … first down, second down, red zone and then review everything again before the game.”
When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, they were applauded for their collaborative coaching room. Everyone had a say in what went into the game plan. Has that changed now that Frank Reich and John DeFilippo are gone? Groh said no.
“We certainly take into consideration any good idea or anybody’s thought,” he said.
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