Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eagles vs. Chargers: Behind the Numbers 2013

Well, last Sunday's home opener against the Chargers was disappointing, to say the least. Fans were riding high after last week's dominant win over Washington, but were severely let down with this loss. Before even delving into the numbers, I'll state the obvious: The Eagles defense lost this game, big time. Let's see if the numbers agree!

I'll start with the stats that stick out the most: offensive plays, average gain, first downs, 3rd down %, penalties/yards, and turnovers. Now some of these were in the Birds favor, but others weren't. The San Diego Chargers ran more plays than Philadelphia (who only ran 5 more plays than in the first half of last week's game), but Philly gained close to the same number of net yards (511 vs. 539) with a average gain of 2 more yards per play. 8.8 yards per play is quite good, but that's a moot point if you give up over 530 yards of total offense to the opposition, let them get 33 first downs, and fail to stop over 2/3 of their 3rd down attempts. Add to that by committing 9 penalties for 77 yards (the Chargers had less than half of that) and even with 2 turnovers it's no surprise that you set yourself up to lose the game. Sure, they didn't turn the ball over (Vick is making good decisions for now, more on that later) but when they forced turnovers by San Diego they were unable to capitalize. 0 points off turnovers, though to be fair both turnovers prevented scores from the Chargers. So basically besides a nearly perfect game by Michael Vick and accumulating over 500 yards of offense and 30 points, the Eagles lost this game by giving up just as much as they had. Plus 3 points, of course.

I usually don't comment on Time of Possession much, unless you count last year when it predicted the first 8 or so winners of last year's games. However; holy shit! This, to me, is the main reason the Eagles lost the game. The Chargers had the ball more than twice as long as the Eagles on Sunday, easily winning the TOP battle every quarter. It's not too surprising though, as it seemed the Eagles couldn't stop the Chargers from marching down the field time after time. With the Eagles defense being a huge question mark right now, it would be beneficial for the team to keep them off the field as much as possible. Last week this wasn't as much as a problem, but the second half of it certainly was an omen for this week's game. The defense will give up points, but if they can't make a stop or two throughout the game (San Diego punted once) then the offense may encounter a hole they cannot dig out of.

Speaking of defense, I have never seen so many noticeable examples of blown coverage. This is the NFL guys, know your role! When a receiver catches a ball and nobody is around him for 20 yards, that's blown coverage. When two defensive backs cover the same receiver leaving another to run behind them, that's blown coverage. I can't entirely blame the secondary though; the defensive line basically had a nonexistent pass rush. They had NO sacks. None. Barely even close to one, too. That's inexcusable, and puts even more pressure on a weak secondary. The Chargers ran all over the Eagles defense, but luckily the Eagles high powered offense made this a close game down to the final seconds.

Can't complain too much about the offense here, as they certainly weren't to blame (see above). The Birds put up at least 30 points for the second week in a row, scoring on 6 out of 10 real drives (with a missed FG that really would have helped). The only downside to the Eagles scoring drives is that half of them were field goals: 2 of them were in the red zone, which means there were 8 points left on the field and off the scoreboard. DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy were stellar once again, and Michael Vick was near perfect. Really no complaints with the offense, other than a couple of missed connections between Vick and Jackson that really would have made this game go in the Eagle's favor. Oh, and this offense may be too fast, see below.

-Defense needs to have a massive improvement in order to keep the Eagles in games from now on.
-Can Jackson and McCoy keep up their tremendous play all year? And Vick too for that matter? All 3 have had health issues, and now the burden of the entire team is on their backs thanks to a lackluster defense.
-Let's talk time management: they left too much time on the clock after that game-tying field goal. With the way the defense had been playing all day, why did Chip Kelly think that the Eagles would suddenly stop the Chargers offense from running down the field with ease? San Diego should have been forced to use some time outs, at least.
-That being said, I agree with Kelly's timeouts on San Diego's last drive. Many people are claiming this enabled them to get into field goal range, but these people may also be idiots. Remember, SD had all 3 of their timeouts left during that final drive, and obviously would have used them if needed; if not then they would have just called a timeout with 3 seconds left to assure the Eagles never got the ball back. By using their timeouts, Philadelphia at least gave themselves a last-ditch effort to win the game.
-The Eagles are averaging a great 31.5 PPG thus far.
-Counterpoint: The Eagles are giving up an awful 30 PPG so far.
-Next game is intriguing, of course, as it brings Andy Reid back into Philly. Who will win? I'm not sure but I'm hoping the Birds come out on top.

Next week vs. Chiefs: Thursday, 8:25pm

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