Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Eagles vs. Buccaneers: Behind the Numbers 2013

Sure, they got 2 wins in the last 2 weeks against winless teams, but Nick Foles and the Phildadelphia Eagles took care of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, winning 31-20. Though losing at halftime, the Birds used a dominant second half to come out with the W. It was a game the Eagles were supposed to win, but do the numbers support the result?

To answer that question: yes! The Eagles outplayed the Buccaneers in every facet of the game. They outscored, out gained, out ran, and out passed them. They had more first downs, and converted more third downs. They had a fairly clean game, too; only 1 turnover and only 3 penalties for 31 yards. The Birds were able to force 1 turnover by Tampa Bay, which resulted in a touchdown (capitalizing!). If you want to nitpick, the only area the Eagles failed to match the Bucs in was total plays, which they had 1 less. Key stats for the Eagles: rushing yards (138) was over 100 for the 5th time in the first 6 games, and they are averaging well over 100 per game; after the abysmal Kansas City game, the Eagles have only turned the ball over 1 time while recording 5 takeaways; they have had over 400 net yards in every single game this season, with this week's total (425) being the lowest yet.

We'll start with the Nick Foles led offense this week. I'd grade them an A-, since they played great but have room for improvement. They scored on 5 of 11 real possessions, but unlike other weeks the majority (4) resulted in touchdowns. They were more efficient in the red zone, with 2 of 3 possessions finding end zone. Foles does appear to be better in the red zone than Michael Vick, for whatever reason. LeSean McCoy played another excellent game (minus the fumble), which has become the norm for the RB. DeSean Jackson also had an excellent game, which was his first this year against a talented secondary (look back at his totals for the Denver and KC games). More impressive, however, was the performance of Riley Cooper. Himself and Foles certainly have a connection, as they hooked up for 120 yards including a 47 yard bomb. But despite all the touchdowns and yards, the Eagles' most impressive drive was definitely one that resulted in a field goal believe it or not. For once, they were able to take a significant amount of time off the clock as they iced the game with a field goal after 5:29 had elapsed in the third quarter. That, to me, is a great sign.

The defense by no means played bad. I won't say much about it, but there will be some more in the "miscellaneous" section below. They did a good job of buckling down when they needed to, only allowing the Buccaneers to reach the end zone once out of 3 red zone possessions. Still need improvement in the pass rush, as it is essentially non existent. The secondary was OK; they didn't let up too many long plays and had several knock downs with only 1 pass interference call. I still think they are on the field for too long to really play to their potential. But all in all, letting up 20 points with this offense will enable the Eagles to win most games. Next week will be a huge test, can they hold up?

-Quarterback controversy! It's inevitable at this point, whether Vick is healthy or not. The only issue I have is Foles' small sample size, and that fact that both QBs have only won again shitty teams this year.
-Brandon Boykin almost had a tremendous interception for the second straight week. I'm liking his play lately.
-The defensive line is still not getting enough pressure on the QB, only recording 2 sacks in the 4th quarter when the Bucs were forced to pass.
-Sticking with the defense, Demeco Ryans has stepped up too. He recorded 12 tackles last week, easily leading the team.
-Time of possession failed to "predict" the winner of the game for the first time all year.
-1st place in the NFC East is on the line next week vs. the Cowboys, and that's a statement I never expected to say this season. Both teams will enter at 3-3, but even the loser will still have a fighting chance. I initially didn't have much hope, but with Ware AND Murray out for the game, I like the Eagles chances a bit more now.

(Eagles at Buccaneers PDF)

Last week at Giants: W, 36-21
Next week vs. Cowboys: Sunday, 1pm

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