Thursday, October 27, 2005

Shanahan Passes on Criticizing Eagles Passing

Denver coach Mike Shanahan didn't want to be drawn into any controversy. Shanahan was asked during a conference call on Wednesday whether he was surprised that the Eagles passed so frequently. The Birds have thrown the ball 268 times a have 102 rushing attempts. That means they have attempted passes an astounding 72.4 percent of the time. And remember, those three knee-downs by Donovan McNabb at the end of the San Diego game count as rushing attempts.
The Broncos meanwhile have rushed the ball 222 times and passed it 208. QB Jake Plummer has thrown for 1,335 yards, but the Broncos have rushed for 1,111, a healthy 5.0 average. This is known as balance.
Still, Shanahan decided to travel the diplomacy road when asked if he was surprised that the Birds threw the ball so frequently.
"I am not surprised," Shanahan said, certainly not wanting to post any bulletin board material. "I have seen teams consider the short passing game as part of their running game."
That sounds great, but what the running game does, when it's working is wear down the defense. Offensive linemen can move forward and pound their defensive counterparts. The defensive linemen don't take the same kind of punishment pass blocking and are fresher by the fourth quarter.
Everybody realizes the Eagles have to run the ball more, but it may not happen this week. Denver has recorded just eight quarterback sacks and if McNabb can stand in the pocket and not be pressured, he'll likely pass all day.
For now, Shanahan is passing on passing judgement on the Eagles unbalanced offensive philosophy. One has to think that privately, he hopes that the trend continues.