Bob Grotz
Delaware County Daily Times

It takes a big-time running back, not a committee of backs, to operate the West Coast Offense efficiently.

The Kansas City Chiefs proved it Sunday in a 27-20 win over the Eagles Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kareem Hunt didn’t rush for 100 yards as he did in the season opener. But the rookie gave the Chiefs 13 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns, one on a 53-yard jaunt between the tackles. Hunt also caught three passes for 28 yards to generally keep the offense on schedule in down and distance, and he picked up a couple blitzes.

Contrast that with the Eagles’ running back-by-committee approach.

Here are the dysfunctional pieces:

• Darren Sproles is too short and too old to play regularly. When Sproles is in, it’s an invitation to blitz. It’s an open invitation to jump right over the 5-6 veteran and into the quarterback.

Sproles gave it everything he had Sunday. He had 10 rushes for 48 yards and two receptions for 30 yards in his bones. That’s too much work for a 34-year-old veteran who returns punts. He was worn out in the first half.

• LeGarrette Blount is too slow and at age 32, too old. When he’s in the game, the opposition doesn’t have to worry he’ll run away. Blount has a lot of miles on him. He can pick up a blitz but it’s 50-50 he’ll catch a short pass and if he does, it’s 99-1 he’ll get positive yardage. He caught one pass for zero yards Sunday.

•Wendell Smallwood is too ordinary. When he’s in the backfield it doesn’t matter because he won’t get out of the backfield. It’s the old what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas thing. Smallwood had three rushes for four yards and caught one pass for minus-three yards Sunday.

After the game Eagles head coach Doug Pederson whined about the lack of a run game for the second straight week. He called the struggle a team thing. It wasn’t although left guard Isaac Seumalo had his worst game as a starter, allowing penetration all afternoon leading to almost half of the six sacks of Carson Wentz.

“We’ve got to get the whole thing fixed,” Pederson said of the ground game at the post-game presser. “This is two weeks in a row. It’s not just one guy. It takes all 11 in the run game. We’ve just got to get it fixed.”

The reality is Pederson knew the run game was in trouble the minute it was obvious rookie fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey wasn’t the answer. Pumphrey is on IR with a torn hamstring. The humble kid conceded he was surprised he made the 53-man roster.

Undrafted free agent Corey Clement, on the other hand, showed up virtually every time he got an opportunity to play in the preseason.

Clement made the first play of the season for the Eagles, a tackle on the opening kickoff against the Washington Redskins. On Sunday he got into the game early although he was used as a decoy.

Pederson hinted the Eagles might make a change at running back before their next game, against the New York Giants.

We have a suggestion — give Clement a chance. He doesn’t have great hands but he gets north and south efficiently enough that the defense must account for him. He rushed for 1,375 yards and 15 TDs in the Big Ten with Wisconsin, which advanced to the conference championship game last season.

Clement is the obvious personnel move, and Pederson knows this.

The Eagles might want to do something about Seumalo, who looks ill-suited to play guard. The Birds easily could plug in Chance Warmack or Stefen Wisniewski at Seumalo’s spot, and train Seumalo at tackle.

The bottom line is the run game issues really aren’t 11 guys getting on the same page, as Pederson pretends to believe. It’s one or two guys performing adequately.

And you can trace the personnel in the run game struggles back to the draft when the Eagles had opportunities to trade up for a serviceable WCO back, as Andy Reid did in securing Towns, but instead drafted a cornerback with a torn Achilles’ tendon (Sidney Jones) in the second round and a cornerback converted from safety (Rasul Douglas) in the third round.

You can’t tell me the Eagles wouldn’t have beaten the Chiefs Sunday had they had the services of a talented young every-down back.

It’s what this kind of offense screams for.

And you can’t keep telling Eagles fans the run game trouble is a team thing when it’s the personnel in your running back-by-committee deal.

They’re too smart for that.

* * *

The Eagles’ injury report became lengthy in the first half as defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (ankle), safety Rodney McLeod (hamstring) and cornerback-safety Jaylen Watkins (hamstring) all were hurt.

Cox returned after getting his ankle wrapped. The others did not.

Rookie cornerback Douglas saw extensive action out of necessity. The first time Alex Smith threw at Douglas he tackled Tyreek Hill in his tracks.

* * *

Did you see?

Eagles safety Jenkins get picked off by teammate Nigel Bradham on Travis Kelce’s 44-yard reception in the first quarter?

• Kelce (8 catches, 103 yards) hurdle over a pile of Eagles for TD on a 15-yard catch-and-run? Kelce celebrated with a FlyEaglesFly dance.

• Zach Ertz lead the Eagles with 97 receiving yards on five catches? It gives him 3,030 career yards in 63 games. Ertz collected the deflection of a deep ball that hit defender Terrence Mitchell, and rolled 53 yards with two seconds left to set up Jake Elliott for what should have been the game-tying FG in the first half.

• Elliott blow that opportunity to knot the score by pushing the 30-yard attempt wide right?

• That 53-yard Hunt run a for TD? The rookie switched gears in the open field to pull away. It’s the longest run against the Birds since Seattle’s C.J. Prosise gashed them for 72 yards last year.

• The Towns TD celebration? Towns set the ball down in the end zone and used it as a pillow, resting his head on it to signal putting the victory to bed, or something like that. It gave the Chiefs a 27-13 lead with 2:20 remaining.

• Andy Reid get in the face of Kelce, flagged for taunting after the long Towns run? The penalty backed the Chiefs up to their 20 for the kickoff. The Eagles wound up starting the ensuing possession on the 34.

• Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks get three tackles, including two quarterback hurries in the first half but none the rest of the way?

• Nelson Agholor catch his second TD pass? He leads the Eagles in that department with two on the season.


Hand off the play sheet and start roaming the sidelines !