Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eagles vs. Cowboys: Behind the Numbers 2013

I was both surprised and not surprised by the result of the first highly anticipated matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles lost 17-3; that wasn't the surprise. How they lost however, was a shocker to me. The defense played great (exceptional maybe? No, probably not) and the offense, led by Nick "I don't know how to pass" Foles downright STUNK. I can already tell you that the numbers will agree with me, so let's dive right in!

As I presumed, very few surprises here. Despite running the same number of plays (75), the Eagles fared much worse than the Dallas Cowboys. They totaled about 100 less yards (even with garbage time), and averaged more than a yard less per gain. They were out passed. They had less first downs (but somehow only 3 less). They converted less 3rd downs. And yet they still out ran the Cowboys, even though LeSean McCoy had his worst game of the year. Speaking of worst games of the year, this match-up was the lowest offensive output from the Birds; in score, net yards, average gain, rushing yards, and third down conversions they all had season lows. Unfortunately the Eagles were unable to overcome a fairly clean game (until Matt Barkley went into desperation mode), as they only recorded 5 penalties vs. 12 for Dallas and managed their only 3 points off of 2 turnovers (1 ended the first half). Just a glance at the offensive numbers, and it's clear why the score was 17-3.

Let's start with the defense, since that was basically the only bright spot for this game, and a pleasant surprise at that. DeMeco Ryans, who has played great the past few weeks, led the way with 6 tackles, a sack, and an interception. Ironically, the defense had the best chance of scoring for the Eagles with that play. Holding the Cowboys offense to only 17 points, including 3 in the first half, (they average 30+ ppg) was tremendous, and if you were told that fact before the game you'd definitely thought the Eagles had won. We all know that wasn't the case, and we'll get to that below. Spoiler alert! It was the offense. Aside from Ryans, the rest of the defense played well as a whole, recording another interception and an additional sack. Speaking of sacks, the pass rush was the only thing lacking in this game, with Tony Romo getting too much time to make plays and caused some problems in the secondary. As seen above, Dallas was only able to convert about 30% of their third downs, another testament to the Eagles D. Not too much to complain about here, as the Birds defense has really stepped up their game since the Denver beatdown. However, whenever the defense plays well, the offense seems to sputter.....

Oh, where to begin here. Oh wait, Nick Foles. That was easy. I probably don't need to say anything more about the Eagles (lack of) offense, but I will say a few things anyway. But first, Nick Foles. Man, did he put an end to any quarterback controversy in Philadelphia! Even if he had not left the game injured, there's no way he would have started next week's game against the Giants. He was that bad, throwing in the general direction of receivers but never actually to them accurately. I have never seen that many balls thrown behind receivers since my high school quarterback tried to reach me on a slant route. Even the sure-handed Jason Avant dropped a couple of passes that were just quite out of reach. And if you want one play to look at as a nice summary of the game, look no further than the missed connection to Avant in the end zone. He was wide open and even with a downright TERRIBLE throw, he STILL almost caught the ball. Come on, man! Even Foles' reads were awful, as he threw into coverage and missed wide open targets. Lastly, the Eagles could never establish the run game with Shady, which was probably due to the poor play of the QB.

-I know I wasn't the only one cheering when Nick Foles was taken out of the game. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't hoping he would be injured but he certainly wasn't helping while playing.
-Turns out it didn't matter, as Matt Barkley threw 3 interceptions which were all awful decisions by the rookie. Despite that, he still looked better than Foles.
-Where the hell has Trent Cole been? And the pass rush was inconsistent yet again.
-I don't care how Chip Kelly explains it, that was the wrong call at the end of the first half. With plenty of time and a timeout, why wouldn't you go for it on 4th and 1? Surely the odds were better for that than they were for a 60+ yard field goal attempt by Alex Henery (who actually had the distance). They could have even rushed for the yard, called a timeout or spike the ball, then run a sideline play to make the field goal reasonable. Or get the first, shot at the end zone, and settle for a long field goal anyway. The field position given up by not getting the first down on 4th and 1 or by missing a super long field goal was basically the same, too. Another time when I said "Come on, man!".
-Building on that, I thought Kelly's play calls the entire game were pretty bad. It may have been the (lack of) execution, but I was not impressed. Way too many passes on first downs followed by 4-5 yard runs by Shady, followed by an incomplete third down pass. Ugh.
-Time of Possession as indicator of the winner "wins" again, and is now 6-1 on the season.
-Worse game: Nick Foles or Josh Freeman?
-I'm expecting Michael Vick to play next week regardless of what % he's at, so the Eagles should win the game and hopefully bury the Giants in the division.

(Eagles vs. Cowboys PDF)

Last week at Tampa Bay: W, 31-20
Next week vs. New York Giants: Sunday, 1pm

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