With McNabb healthy, Eagles have ability to implement more balanced offensive attack Print
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Friday, 07 September 2007 12:12
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 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Run, Andy, run.
Brian Westbrook yearns for it. The offensive linemen want it. Fans demand it.
Now that Donovan McNabb is healthy, will Eagles coach Andy Reid revert to his pass-first philosophy or could Philadelphia have a more-balanced offense this season?
``I know that this offense is the best when it's as close to 60-40 or 50-50 as you can get it,'' Reid said Friday. ``I also know that, through studies that I've done, with a number of Super Bowl winners, that really doesn't matter. ...''
So, it won't be a surprise if McNabb drops back and throws 40-45 passes in the Eagles' opener at Green Bay on Sunday. The pass-run ratio often depends on the score and circumstances in a game. Losing teams tend to throw more because they're often trying to catch up. Winning teams can start out passing and then run late in the game when they're working the clock.
Westbrook doesn't care when he gets the ball as long as he carries it more often. He proved he can handle an increased workload after McNabb got hurt last season, running for a career-best 1,217 yards and averaging a franchise-record 5.1 yards per attempt. The sixth-year pro hopes to build on that success and join the ranks of the elite running backs in the NFL. But he needs to get the carries to have a chance to fulfill his goals.
``That's my goal, to go out there and be even better than I was last year,'' Westbrook said. ``I think the beginning of last year we kind of started off slow in the running department. So, our goal this year is to be competitive to what we did at the end of last season. We have the guys in place that can do it, and hopefully we'll go out and start fast this season.''
Before McNabb tore a knee ligament in Week 11, the Eagles ran a total of 547 offensive plays. Of those, 193 plays (35.3 percent) were rushes by the running backs. They ran a total of 343 offensive plays from the time Jeff Garcia took over on the third play of the second quarter against Tennessee on Nov. 19 until the end of the regular season. Of those, 161 plays (46.9 percent) were rushes by the running backs.
The Eagles were 5-5 with McNabb and 6-2 without him, including two playoff games. Considering that success, perhaps Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg should stick with the run. Then again, it depends on the situation. A strong running attack certainly helps the defense by keeping it off the field.
``I don't have to remind them,'' Westbrook said. ``I think the coaches know going into the season that we still need to run the ball no matter if Donovan's in there. Donovan's going to have success this year and that's only going to help our running game. As the season goes on, it's going to help us even more.
``They haven't promised me anything. I think they saw what we were capable of doing when Donovan did go out, and we were able to run the ball pretty well. If we continue to do that and set the tone early on in games, we can have some success.''
Reid turned playcalling duties over to Mornhinweg midway through last season, so his assistant got credit for reviving the run game in the second half.
``We'll do what we have to do and what we think is best to do in that particular game, however it comes out,'' Mornhinweg said. ``The score has something to do with it. We'll do whatever it takes.''
Notes: DE Jevon Kearse (shoulder) practiced Friday and is probable for the opener. RG Shawn Andrews (ankle) and TE L.J. Smith (groin) are expected to start, despite sitting out the preseason. QB A.J. Feeley, who had surgery on his hand last week, should be ready as McNabb's backup.
 

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