Sunday, November 24, 2013

Eagles vs. Redskins II: Behind the Numbers 2013

Holy crap, the Eagles won a home game! They did so in dominating fashion (at least for the first 3 quarters, more on that later) by winning 24-16 over the Washington Redskins. Over the last 3 games, the Eagles have recorded 3 wins and the stats have also revealed some interesting trends. Does it matter? The Birds are in first place in the NFC East, but we'll take a gander anyway (bonus graph included!):

Like I mentioned above, fairly even numbers for the third week in a row. Despite winning the game, the Eagles ran 15 fewer plays, gained 25 less yards (including 65 on the ground), had 1 less first down, converted less third downs, and committed more penalties for more yards. However, once again, Philly made the most of their plays and on average gained a whole yard more per play. They also forced an RG3 fumble that led to 3 points, and sealed the game with an interception in the end zone. While they could do better in the penalty department, they managed to play a turnover free game, which usually leads to wins as it did here. Even the score ended up being close, with the Eagles only winning by 8 over the Redskins. In the end, the Eagles had control of this game for 3 quarters, and got a huge division win while essentially putting an end to the Redskin's playoff hopes.

I'll start with the defense this week, as they once again played a great game. Overall, they played well, especially in the first half (only 4 net yards allowed). Pass rush certainly improved, and recorded 4 sacks of RG3. And I couldn't believe I heard Trent Cole's name (twice!), I had nearly forgotten about him. The secondary play was just OK, as they allowed too many big plays from Washington (4 over 20 yards). Brandon Boykin played well again, with an interception to end the game. The run defense was a problem in this game, as Washington was able to run the ball with ease against Philadelphia. DeMeco Ryans is becoming the leader on this defense, and Connor Barwin has steadily improved. He recorded 5 solo tackles (6 total) and a sack, and I'm really liking the direction this defense is headed. They will face a hot Arizona Cardinals team after this week's bye, so the defense will be put to the test next week at home. B- against Washington, A before the final quarter.

The Eagles offense, led once again by QB Nick Foles, put up another solid effort that included 9 rushes for 47 yards. The rest of big guys -McCoy and Jackson- put up solid games as well. Riley Cooper was tamed for at least this game, only accumulating 37 yards despite a team-high 7 targets. The best drive from the offense came during the first drive of the 2nd half, when the Birds drove 80 yards for a TD while taking 5:19 off of the clock. I'm sure we can count on one hand the number of drives that have gone over 5 minutes for the Eagles, which I don't think is necessarily a good thing. As I've said before, if the team is putting up 30+ points every week then OK, I don't care about time of possession. However, this game came down until the end, and Washington had plenty of time to attempt a comeback. I'm all for the quick strike offense when it lands, but there's got to be some moments when wasting the clock is a necessity.  Back to that last scoring drive: at that point Philly had scored on 4 of 6 possessions. After that point? 0 of 5, and completely outplayed as seen below:

Bonus graph!
What a treat, a bonus graph! I did this one other time, and that was for the Eagles/Lions game last year when they were completely outplayed in the 4th quarter and OT. Luckily this week, OT was not necessary. But as you can see above, they were certainly outplayed in the 4th quarter of this game, as the offense was essentially non-existent. I blame Chip Kelly for that (more under miscellaneous) with some awful play calling and a bad game plan with a big lead. Chalk up some of the yardage from the Redskins to garbage time (they were down 24-0 shortly into the 3rd quarter), but there's no reason the offense should only gain 41 yards with the weapons they have. Washington dominated the final quarter in every facet except rushing, but the Eagles definitely should have had more than 7 yards over the Redskins, especially considering running out the clock should have been a priority. This isn't the first time the Eagles have basically stalled after a lead, but they should absolutely learn from this.

-All in all it was a good win by the Birds, and I never really felt like they were going to lose despite Washington's comeback attempt. Would I have liked a more comfortable win? Absolutely.
-Very impressed by the play of punter Donnie Jones thus far, especially in this game with that 70 yard punt out of bounds. Very consistent play, which is all you can ask for out of a punter.
-Chip Kelly's play calling in the second half, aside from the opening drive TD, was awful. Why even bother changing everything? Call the same plays at a slower rate to waste some time, instead of running plays that don't work and allow the other team to come back with plenty of time to score. 24 points is good, but it's not a lot. How about another score next time?
-The division is now Philadelphia's for the taking. I think it will come down to the final week at Dallas, but regardless the Eagles need to win probably 4 of 5. They are all winnable, believe it or not.
-Arizona has been playing much better lately, and seems to be the biggest test remaining. Luckily the Eagles won at home this week, and will have an extra week to prepare for the Cardinals coming to town.

(Eagles vs. Redskins PDF)

Last week at Packers: W, 27-13
This week: Bye
Next week vs. Cardinals: Sunday, 1pm

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