By Peter Gleason
The Eagles transformation from a doormat to a real playoff contender has happened faster than a speeding Mile Sanders run.
Everybody was surprised.
But not head coach Nick Sirianni.
“It’s a close-knit group of guys that connect. It’s a physical group of guys and it’s guys that leave everything out there on the field,” Sirianni said after getting his first regular-season win at home, a 40-29 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
“That was on display today.”
“We know we’ve been running the ball well. You want to make them stop what you do well, which is running the ball and that was our goal going out there,” said Sirianni.
After missing three games due to an ankle injury, running back Miles Sanders was the leading rusher with 94 yards and quarterback Jalen Hurts was not far behind him with 69 yards. Sanders knows how impactful Hurts is to their run game, but he says you have to give credit where credit is due.
“Having Jalen makes it 10 times easier, but you really got to get credit to the offensive line,” Sanders said.
Running back Boston Scott, who stepped up while Sanders was out, talked about how important that front line is for the run game.
“It just starts with the big guys up front. The amount of work they put in with Stout (Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland), not just the starting guys, but all of those guys, it means something to them. They pride themselves on being a physical, grimy, nasty group,” said Scott. “Each week they want the game to be put on their backs. That’s their mindset. That’s how they come in each week. As running backs, we love that.”
“We’ve got tough, gritty guys. That’s gonna win you a lot of football games. When you’re physical and when you’re tough, that’s something throughout the history of football that is shown to help you win games,” Sirianni said. “That common denominator is that they’re tough, they’re nasty, and they’re physical.”
One guy who showed how tough he is was Hurts, who became the first quarterback in Eagles history to rush for three scores in a single game on Sunday. When you ask Hurts about the identity of the team, he looks at the team’s identity in a unique way.
“I think identity is not being able to run a ball or we’re a running team. We’re a passionate team. We’re a team that doesn’t give up big explosive plays. That’s not what identity is,” said Hurts, who also threw for 147 yards. “Identity is a mentality. It’s a mentality. It’s an approach that is the detail you put in, day in and day out throughout the week. It’s being physical. I think that’s what we want to be.”
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