Fans have been imploring Andy Reid to run the ball ever since he became Philadelphia's head coach in 1999.
Though Reid has been the most successful coach in franchise history while employing a pass-happy philosophy in his version of the West Coast offense, the numbers just might support the fans in this case.
In Michael Vick's 28 starts at quarterback, the Eagles are 17-11. They're 14-4 when Vick throws 35 or fewer passes and just 3-7 when he throws more.
"Philosophically, I don't care as much about balance in any particular game," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Thursday. "If we have to run the ball 50 times to win the game, that's what we'll do. If we need to pass the ball 50 times in any particular game, that's what we'll do.
"Now, you take the whole season, and you'd rather be somewhere around 60-40ish, usually a little higher than 60ish. Maybe 60-65 percent pass."
Need further proof the Eagles should run more?
When All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy gets 18 or more carries, the Eagles are 11-2. When McCoy runs fewer than 18 times, they're 19-19, including two playoff losses.
Still, don't expect McCoy to plead for the ball.
"I trust those guys," McCoy said. "I trust them that they know what type of player I am. They have a lot of confidence in me. I don't think there's ever a time when I have to go tell them, 'Give me the ball.'
"There are times when Marty will ask, 'Who do you want?' or 'Who do you see?' things like that. It's never a case where I'm telling him, 'Hey, I want the ball' because that would be selfish."
Reid answers questions about having a more balanced offense every week. Sometimes, he agrees that, in hindsight, perhaps running would've been beneficial in a particular game. Other times, he shoots the theory down. Regardless, it doesn't change his game plan.
"Listen, you're seeing it with some of the good throwing teams in this league, you've got to have some sort of balance, whether that's 60-40, 70-30," Reid said. "You've got to be able to, obviously, keep defenses off balance and, at the same time, get yourself in a rhythm as an offense."
In last week's 27-6 loss at Arizona, the Eagles (2-1) called 46 pass plays to just 17 runs. McCoy and rookie Bryce Brown gained 98 yards on those carries, an average of 5.8 yards per attempt.
Yet despite the success on the ground, the ratio was nearly 3-1 favoring the pass.
"We need a little more balance," Reid said. "We've got to do a better job of just getting them in rhythm. It doesn't matter if you're throwing the ball, running the ball, combination, you've got to get in rhythm and do what it takes to do that."
Considering the Eagles have a depleted offensive line that's missing two key starters, Reid and Mornhinweg could relieve some pressure by running more. Poor protection is a major reason why Vick has been battered this year. He took 21 hits against the Cardinals, though he's partly to blame for some of those because he holds the ball too long.
"We're not worried about it," guard Evan Mathis said of the playcalling. "Whatever is called, we're ready to execute. I'm in no place to say if there was more balance, it would work better or not because sometimes you can throw the ball 60 times and run very few and still be dominant. It just depends on who you are playing and the way things unfold."
On Sunday night, the Eagles will face a defense that boasts a strong pass rush and has knocked Vick around in the past. Then again, the New York Giants (2-1) are 22nd against the pass and 10th against the run in the first three weeks.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin has a clear preference.
"I would hope that he has maybe zero," Coughlin said when asked how many carries he wants McCoy to get.
"He's very difficult to defend," Coughlin said. "The quality of their offense is difficult to defend. It's wide open. He gets the draws and the screens, the zone runs and he's very good at the cutback run, but he's got the speed to be able to run around you."
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