Philadelphia Eagles: Why would trading for Marlon Mack fix anything?

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Heading into free agency, many a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles pined for Howie Roseman to sign Marlon Mack.

On paper, it felt like a match made in heaven; Mack had played for Nick Sirianni over his entire tenure as the Indiana Colts’ offensive coordinator, and after suffering a season-ending ACL injury in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season, could likely be had on the cheap on a one-year, prove-it deal.

Worst case, Mack doesn’t return to his vintage form, and he’s released.

Best case? The Eagles have the thunder to Miles Sanders‘ lightning and could field a balanced rushing attack across the entire running backs weather vane.

*spoiler alert* it didn’t happen. Mack re-signed with the Colts on March 23rd, the Eagles drafted Kenneth Gainwell in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and both teams moved on with their business.

But now, there’s a second chance to get Mack in a midnight green uniform, as he and the Colts have reportedly agreed to “mutually seek a trade” moving forward. Could the Philadelphia Eagles ultimately be the team that surrenders a conditional draft pick for his services? Maybe so. Mack is a better player than practice squad member Jordan Howard and the team doesn’t currently have another power rusher on their active roster. But answer me this first: Why would trading for Marlon Mack fix anything?

The Philadelphia Eagles need to commit to running the ball.

According to Statmuse, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the record for the fewest rushing attempts in an NFL game at five… wait, I’ve written this before, here, actually.

If you’ve read anything about the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys over the past 24 hours, it’s certainly said something about how Nick Sirianni only called three run plays to his running backs versus 39 passing attempts. It surely also touched on the fact that the team once again had a near negative 10 minute time of possession differential, that Jalen Hurts ran the ball nine times – some of them planned, some of them not – and that the team largely ran an offense devoid of creativity against one of the most potent attacks in the league.

These stats are sort of the hits from the Eagles’ Week 3 obituary, with other less consequential numbers like the team’s penalty count or their first down disparity falling into “album track” territory.

Could one suggest that Sirianni doesn’t quite have a clear grasp on how to run an NFL offense at this point in his career? Yes, some did here, actually.

So, riddle me this; if the Eagles seem disinterested in running the ball under Sirianni even more so than Doug Pederson, why on earth would adding Mack to the fray make that any different?

Mack isn’t a better rusher than Miles Sanders, not overall anyway. Even if Sanders had some issues with drops over the summer, he’s still a better receiver than Mack will likely ever be and presents a slew of fantastic opportunities to make plays both as a receiver and in the option game. While Mack may be a better rusher between the tackles, considering the Eagles are currently down to their second-string guards, it’s not like the team is going to be relying on a power run game any time soon.

Though the sample size isn’t particularly expansive, Gainwell has also looked like a viable rusher with more optionality than Mack, who, again, is a fairly limited player at this point in his career. Gainwell has looked good between the tackles when given an opportunity, has held up alright against the rush, and is just scratching his surface as a receiving option out of the backfield.

And Boston Scott? Well, Mack and Scott are basically the opposite in terms of playing style, but considering the latter has yet to receive a single rushing attempt so far this season, it doesn’t really matter.

Therein lies the problem, my friends, the Eagles are not consistently using their running backs like running backs.

If Mack is so dishearted by only receiving five rushing attempts versus 13 offensive snaps, he’d hate being a member of the Eagles rushing corps, as Scott, Gainwell, and Sanders have only run the ball 46 times versus 187 combined offensive snaps.

Just for context, Jonathan Taylor alone has run the ball 42 times for 171, which is only 38 yards less than the Eagles’ combined running back rushing total but is noticeably higher than Sanders’ total of 156 yards on 30 carries.

… wait, 171 divided by 42 is 4.07, whereas 156 divided by 30 is 5.2. You’re telling me Sanders is actually a much more effective rusher than Taylor when he gets the ball? So why isn’t Sirianni giving him more touches if he could literally record a first down every two rushing attempts?

*sigh* your guess is as good as mine.

Next. Nick Sirianni doesn’t know how to call an NFL game. dark

Could a little fresh blood be all the Philadelphia Eagles’ running backs corps needs to get going?  Or maybe Nick Sirianni will see the error in his ways and present a balanced offensive attack in Week 4 when the Birds takes on Big Red and the Kansas City Cheifs at Lincoln Financial Field. Either way, it would appear the team’s depth chart is the least of their concern moving forward, as they can’t even properly use the players they already have under contract.