The NFL has become a passing league over the past few years, but it's still important to have some semblance of a running game. Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley explained why during a recent press conference.
Staley explained that running the football challenges a defense's physicality. On the flip side, defenses don't have to be as physical when they're constantly defending the pass.
Not only does a running game bring a physical element to the game, it gives the play-action game more space to operate. When you combine all those factors, it makes you realize that running the football is still important in today's NFL.
"What I think that the running game does for a quarterback is it gives you some breathers," Staley said. "You don't need a good running game to be a good play-action team, but what you need the running game for is the physical element of the game. There's a physicality to the game that's real, right? If you're just a passing team, there's a physical element to the game that the defense doesn't have to respect. And that's the truth. Because the data will tell you that you don't need a run game to play pass. You don't need that.
"But what the running game does for you, it brings a physical dimension to the football game. And what the running game does that the passing game does not, is the running forces the defense to play block and to tackle. That happens on a run play -- You must play blocks and you must tackle. In the passing game, those things don't need to happen, right? You don't have to play as many blocks. And you may not have to tackle based on incomplete or not. So what the running game does is it really challenges your physicality and that's why I think the run game is important to a quarterback. It's literally going to allow him to have more space to operate when you do throw the football."
The Chargers did an excellent job of running the football on Monday night against the Las Vegas Raiders, as Austin Ekeler had 117 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Larry Rountree III also had a nice day on the ground, rushing for 31 yards.
When Los Angeles' ground game is firing on all cylinders, it makes life even easier for Justin Herbert. He certainly looked comfortable on Monday night, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
Running the football might not be a flashy trend anymore, but Staley is proving that it's definitely not out of style.