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Running the Numbers: A Statistical View of the Eagles

Posted Nov 6, 2012

In a lot of ways, the Eagles’ 2012 season has mirrored that of the Cowboys. Sitting at 3-5, Philadelphia has been unable to capitalize on its massive potential, dropping five of its last six contests after starting the season 2-0. With a potentially explosive offense and defense that has failed to record enough takeaways, the Eagles resemble Dallas in more ways than one. Now, with the season of both teams on the line, the Eagles and Cowboys clash in Week 10; the winner will remain in the NFC East hunt, while the loser’s playoff hopes will all but disappear.

Offense

5.8: Net yards-per-attempt for Eagles’ passing offense.

Although the Eagles possess a big-play offense, they’ve struggled moving the ball through the air in 2012, ranking just 25th in net yards per attempt (YPA). Remember, net YPA factors sacks into passing stats, and only two teams in the entire league have allowed more sacks than the Eagles. Philadelphia has yielded nearly twice as many sacks (27) as the Cowboys (14).

4.5: YPC for Philadelphia on the ground.

The Eagles rank ninth in the NFL in rushing efficiency, due in large part to their scrambling quarterback. Vick has 300 yards on the ground and 5.6 yards per carry (YPC) this season. LeSean McCoy and his shifty running style is obviously a huge threat as well; together the duo has combined for 85.8 percent of the Eagles’ rushes in 2012.

More telling than YPC, which can be thrown off by a couple of big runs, is success rate – the percentage of rushes that increase an offense’s probability of scoring on a given drive. The Cowboys have successfully increased their expected points on just 39.4 percent of runs, compared to 53.8 percent of their passes. Meanwhile, the Eagles rank fourth in the NFL with a 47 percent rushing success rate.

41.2: Michael Vick’s passer rating when pressured.

Getting to Vick has obvious benefits outside of bringing him down. Specifically, Vick has always been somewhat reckless with the ball when throwing in the face of pressure, as evidenced by his 41.4 completion rate and 4.3 percent interception rate when pressured in 2012. Dallas might want to avoid excessive blitzes against Vick, however, for two reasons: First, the Cowboys’ four or five-man pass rush should be able to reach Vick anyway; secondly, Vick can be deadly against man coverage, running for big chunks of yards when defenders have their backs turned to the ball. Plus, Vick has a 5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio against the blitz this season.

3.12: Number of seconds Vick has to throw, on average.

That might seem like the blink of an eye, but Vick has actually had more time to throw than all but one quarterback. In comparison, Tony Romo has been afforded an average of 2.76 seconds on each dropback, ranking as the 12th-highest in the NFL. These numbers suggest that the Eagles’ offensive line really hasn’t been as poor as people think. Strengthening that idea is the fact that Vick has had more dropbacks with at least 2.6 seconds to throw than any other quarterback in the league. 

Defense

4.2: YPC allowed by the Eagles’ defense.

Contrary to popular belief, Philadelphia’s rush defense isn’t near the bottom of the NFL barrel. They’ve struggled to stop the run at times, but they’ve allowed just one-tenth of a yard more per carry than the Cowboys. All told, the Eagles rank near the middle of the NFL in both rush and pass defense efficiency.

11: Eagles’ sacks.

Shockingly, the Eagles rank 31st in the NFL in total sacks. That’s particularly surprising because Philly led the league in sacks in 2011. Their sack rate is down from 8.8 percent last year to 3.8 percent in 2012.

98.2: Percentage of Trent Cole’s snaps on the right side of the defense.

Cole is one of the few pass-rushers who rarely switches sides, so he’ll be matched up almost exclusively against left tackle Tyron Smith. That battle, and Doug Free’s matchup with defensive end Jason Babin, will be pivotal for the Cowboys. Although both ends have perhaps underperformed this season (neither has a pressure rate over 6.5 percent), both Cole and Babin are talented enough that double-teaming one leaves you vulnerable against the other.

6.7: YPA allowed by cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Although the Eagles brought in cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to shut down the opposition’s top receiver, it has been Rodgers-Cromartie who has played the best ball in Philadelphia. The cornerback has allowed 6.7 YPA and a 46.3 passer rating on the 40 balls thrown his way in 2012, compared to 10.8 YPA and a 112.4 passer rating for Asomugha on 37 targets.

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