Monday, September 24, 2012

Eagles vs. Cardinals: Behind the Numbers

Well, there's not much to say about this one. Not much was done right by the Eagles, who handily lost yesterday against the Arizona Cardinals 27-6. So in a way, I guess I was right last week when I predicted a blow out; I just had the wrong team winning! Anyway, on to the numbers.

The first thing that stands out here, aside from the score, is how even both the Eagles and Cardinals were in the key categories. Oh, and the turnovers again. Based on the 9 stats in the middle of the graph, the 27-6 score doesn't make much sense. In fact, based on those stats, the Eagles should have won: they gained more net yards, had more rushing yards, and gained more yards per play. Passing yards were only +5 in favor of the Cardinals, first downs were even, the Cardinals fared slightly better on 3rd down conversions. Penalties for the Birds were actually manageable, only committing 5 for 65 yards; this is still something to be improved upon. However all of this is moot once we get to the turnovers. In the previous 2 weeks the Eagles gave the ball up 9 times, but they capitalized on the 6 takeaways by the defense. This week they weren't so lucky, as Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals protected the ball for the whole game which never gave the Eagles a chance to pick up momentum. Turnovers, to me, were the reason the Eagles lost this game; their sloppy play finally caught up to them.

This was the first game in which the Eagles did not win the time of possession battle, but that's to be expected when you constantly give up the ball to the other team and have 3 drives end without a first down. I'm not going to dwell too much on the stats of this game though, as nothing much was telling other than the things I discussed already. What I will talk about is the clear turning point of the game, which destroyed any hope the Birds had of winning this game.
Already down by 17 in the waning seconds of the first half, the Eagles were on the 1 yard line with a chance to cut the deficit to 10. However, one 14 point swing later and halftime began with the Cardinals up 24-0. How you ask? Just ANOTHER sack of Michael Vick and ANOTHER fumble, this time being recovered for a 93 yard Arizona touchdown as time expired. Now I know shit happens, but I have 2 concerns; timeout management and play calling. Wow! Who would have thought anyone would have those critiques about an Andy Reid coached Eagles team? But seriously, had the Eagles not blew a time out BEFORE THE 2ND QUARTER EVEN STARTED then they would have had all 3 for that final drive, and this would have also avoided my next point. RUN THE BALL! You have one of the best running backs in the league, but you don't let him run the ball from the 1 yard line? Hand it off to LeSean McCoy, and you'd have gone into the half 17-7. I know it's risky without a timeout, but the offensive line was awful and Vick never had a chance on the two passes he attempted. Or why not try that little shuffle pass that works so well? Maybe a bootleg with Vick? Use your weapons!
As for everything else, all the Eagles numbers were down. The defense still played well, but the offense was really missing Jeremy Maclin this week. The Cardinals played well, but not great.

-The Eagles only scored on 2 drives this week, now only scoring on 9 drives through 3 games.
-Those scores have resulted in 47 points, or 15 and 2/3 points per game.
-The above stat is why I was shocked to find out the Eagles had the #1 offense through Week 2; all those yards but no scoring.
-The defense is still playing well, and keeping the Eagles in games. They have only allowed 2 touchdowns thus far (the others were off turnovers) and they are keeping their opponent's running game in check.
-Jason Avant can catch anything, and I liked Damaris Jackson.
-Hey! Vick didn't throw any interceptions! But he didn't look particularily sharp, constantly missing the long ball and taking a lot of hits.
-Vick taking a lot of pressure is due to the beat up offensive line, which MUST improve.
-I can't see the Eagles playing sloppy for a FOURTH week in a row. I was wrong last week though, and maybe the Eagles are playing at the level they should be instead of the level we think they're capable of. Next week is huge against the Giants, and will show us the Birds true colors.
Last week vs. Ravens: W, 24-23
Next week vs. Giants: Sunday 8:20pm

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