Eagles' Offense No Balancing Act

All during the off-season, Andy Reid and the Eagles talked about more offensive balance. Now, with a chunk of the season gone, the scales aren't anywhere near balanced.

Eagles coach Andy Reid said in the off-season that he wanted to get a better run-pass balance in his offense, but that hasn't been happening.

In their last four games, 143 of the Eagles' 225 offensive plays, or 63.5 percent, have been pass plays, which is almost as much as last year, when they threw 64.4 percent of the time.

The good news is the Eagles are averaging almost 30 points per game and quarterback Donovan McNabb is the early leader for league MVP. The bad news is they're 29th in the league in time of possession, ahead of only hapless Tennessee, Houston and Oakland.

They've also converted just 31.1 percent of their third-down opportunities the last four weeks. They've run the ball more than 19 times in just one of their last four games, a lopsided 31-9 win over Green Bay.

"I think we could've run the ball a little more Sunday," said Brian Westbrook, referring to the Eagles' 19 rushing attempts in a 27-24 loss to New Orleans. "We can't allow a defense to allow us to go 30 percent on third down. That's the only way we're going to stay on the field."

The Eagles converted 15 of 32 third-down attempts in their first two games, which also was when they were more balanced offensively. They ran the ball 30 times in each of those games. Since then, they've converted just 14 of 45 attempts.

The time of possession issue is a growing one. Quite simply, the defense is wearing down and needs the offense to put together more sustained drives to keep the defense off the field more. Donovan McNabb doesn't feel there's any issue and that the offense doesn't have anything to prove when it comes to putting together time consuming drives. "It sounds good, but you want to get in the end zone. No matter how you do it, as long as you get in the end zone. We've shown that we can grind out the clock. We've shown that we can have 14-15 play drives. We've shown that we can score in 3-4 plays. No matter what you do or how fast you do it, as long as it gets done," stressed the probable MVP candidate.

Brian Dawkins feels that the defense being on the field too long isn't their biggest problem. "We haven't played consistently enough for me or for us for that matter," said Dawkins. "One game we'll come out and we'll play like we know we can play and then the next game we don't have that same edge to us."

There is also a sense that RB Correll Buckhalter is being underused. He had just two touches Sunday against the Saints, catching a 10-yard swing pass and running for five yards. He has just 35 rushing attempts in the first six games. Of course, Buckhalter didn't help his cause any with a couple of key fumbles earlier this season in a Monday night game against Green Bay.


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