OUR opponents know that we’re a team that is largely dependent on finesse to run the ball, and you know what? That shouldn’t change. After all, that IS who we are now. It’s what this city (not so much this fan) fell in love with last year. Why overhaul what works? And yes, I still think it works, I just think it’s stuck at the moment.
So how do you get it unstuck? Simple, you run the ball.
Not a single offensive lineman on this roster (starter through 3rd string) played under Chip Kelly, or in a system similar to this in college. That means they all learned how to drive block for the run at some point. Most of the linemen we have were NFL veterans when Kelly was hired, which means they blocked for the run not just in college, but also at the pro level already. My point is they know how to do it. They may not be naturally gifted for it, and they may be rusty at it, but they do know how to do it.
What would help to get us ‘unstuck’ would be to mix in a basic dive here and there. No pulling. No zone. No counter. Just a few basic “body on a body, and man on a man” type plays, where LeSean McCoy knows ahead of time that it’s a quick hitter, and that zero time to dance is built into the play.
On too many of these runs to the outside, McCoy is being greeted by 2 and 3 tacklers, because they flow straight to the edge since they know we don’t really attack the middle with McCoy. Hey, did anyone notice where Darren Sproles 2 longest runs of year were? They were right up the gut. If Sproles can make his way through grabs and arm-tackles, you can bet your ass that McCoy can. We just need to commit to doing it.
We’ve gotten so fancy now, that we’ve forgotten about the basics. That it’s your heart and not your 40 time that makes you great. We’re so smart now that we’ve even started outsmarting ourselves, and strayed from the truth that at its heart, this is a violent sport, and that violence is not just reserved for defensive players to dish out.
Let’s not overlook the physical toll it takes on a defender to fight off an offensive lineman, and then try to bring down a RB with a full head of steam. Some downhill running would take some of the wind out of defenders who’d later have to chase McCoy to the edge, or hustle over to help on a bubble screen. If they’re beat-up already, the likelihood that they can make a play goes down.
We don’t get much of that right now. At games end, opponents are starting to look fresher than we do. Near the end, did the Rams look at all tired to you last week? They seemed to be surging from where I sat.
I’m a throwback type. I believe if you cut off a man’s head, he can’t outsmart you. If you break your enemy’s body, he can’t break yours. It’s why the finesse style can’t appeal to me. That being said, the pace we play at, by itself, won’t break a team. We need to lay hands on and physically break a team. We need to run them down. Run them over. Back up. Do it again. You want to get the running game back on track? Get back to basics. THAT’S the way you do it.
How do you get unstuck? Simple. You run the goddamn ball.