Eagles: Without Sanders/Howard, can Philly still dominate on the ground?

As it stands, it appears unlikely that the Eagles top two running backs, Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard, will be healthy for their Week 17 contest against Washington.

Sanders has already been ruled out with a broken hand. Howard hasn’t practiced yet this week with a stinger, so there’s a chance he still suits up on Sunday, though it is pretty unlikely at this point.

The Eagles bread and butter is their rushing attack. Without Sanders or Howard, their ability to run the football may take a minor hit, but it shouldn’t affect it too drastically.

For starters, the Eagles rushing attack isn’t based around who’s carrying the rock for them. The offensive line has been the MVP for the Eagles offense all season, especially in the running game.

Per Pro Football Focus, Philly has three offensive lineman that rank inside the top-10 at their respective positions. Jason Kelce leads the way with an overall offensive grade of 84.6, second-best in the NFL among centers. Jordan Mailata has posted an 85.4 grade, fifth-best among 84 qualifying tackles. And Lane Johnson comes in at tenth among all tackles with an 83.1 overall grade.

Both of the team’s starting guards, Landon Dickerson and Nate Herbig, have been solid, too. Dickerson has posted a run blocking grade of 69.3 this season, 20th-best among 78 qualifying guards. Herbig has recorded a 66.7 run blocking grade, 29th-best in the league.

We’ve seen the Eagles rushing attack thrive without Sanders in the lineup already. Their rushing resurgence began when Sanders was sidelined earlier in the season. In the three games without Sanders, the Eagles still averaged 209 rushing yards per game.

Howard also missed some time as of late after getting injured in Week 11 against New Orleans. In the two games he missed, the Eagles averaged 196.5 rushing yards per game.

Although Sanders and Howard both bring certain elements to this rushing attack that the other Eagles backs don’t, the team has proven that their rushing attack is sustainable no matter who’s toting the rock. That shouldn’t change against Washington. The Eagles just racked up 238 yards on the ground against them 12 days ago, and they did it with two third string guards in the starting lineup.

Simply put, the Eagles rushing attack is flat-out dominant. So until someone proves they can stop it, we shouldn’t expect anything less from this unit.

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