Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Eagles vs 49ers: Behind the Numbers 2014

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Unfortunately it happened sooner as the Philadelphia Eagles lost for the first time this year, falling to the San Francisco 49ers 26-21. Before the game the Eagles were the best second half team, and the 49ers were the worst second half team. So naturally the Eagles went scoreless after halftime, and the 49ers scored 13 points in their come from behind victory. The Eagles defense played fairly well and special teams accounted for all their points. The offense was anemic, as I'm sure the numbers will support:

Woah, that's a lot of red! You know the Eagles had a bad game when the only category they "won" was turnovers (4-1). They somehow managed to capitalize just as well as the 49ers, who each scored 7 points of turnovers. Aside from tying in penalties and faring slightly better in penalty yards, Philadelphia fared worse than San Francisco in every other category. Obviously they lost, but the numbers show just how and how bad they lost. The Birds ran 20 less plays than the Niners, and unfortunately couldn't make up for that with big plays: they averaged only 3.8 yards per gain, while gaining almost less than half the yards their opponent did (213 to 407). The 49ers posted a modest 5.4 yards per gain, but really won the game on the ground with 218 yards to only 19 for the Eagles. The passing games and 3rd down conversions were somewhat similar at 218 vs 195 and 42% vs 38% respectively, but that doesn't matter when Philly only has 11 first downs for the entire game (20 for San Fran). It's a (special teams) miracle that the score was so damn close!


Let's get this shit over with, shall we? I'm not going to have much to say here, because the offense was terrible. Like, really terrible. They scored 0 points. They had 4 turnovers, 2 of which seemed to be literally handed to the Niners. They only had 17+ minutes of ball possession. You do the math. Philly's second play in San Fran territory didn't happen until 4:29 remained in the game!

I'm not sure who exactly is to blame for the poor performance. Was the lack of the run game due to LeSean McCoy or the banged up offensive line? Probably both, but the line improving will help Shady. What about the failures in the passing game? Nick Foles didn't play his worst game ever, but he overthrew nearly every open deep receiver and finished with a completion rate under 50%. Play calling was a huge issue, and Chip Kelly failed to make the right calls during the Bird's only trip to the red zone. 3rd and goal from the one, and we don't run the ball. At the very least it would have drained some clock, at the best it's a TD. The 4th down play was terrible too, but Foles should have tried the throw to James Casey. Even if you disagree with those suggestions, you can't defend the other 3 quarters of non-offense. And the bad screen pass call on 2nd and 20 before the end.

On a more positive note, Jeremy Maclin had a decent game with 68 yards (despite only catching 4 of 15 targets) and an amazing one handed grab late in the game. And I guess you could say that next to last drive was pretty good; it would have resulted in a field goal any other time in the game. Unfortunately it was the end of the game, and the offense must find a way to improve in all aspects for next week.


The defense certainly can't be to blame for this loss, so I'll get the negatives out of the way. That opening play of the second quarter where the Eagles had Kaepernick trapped on the left side of the field that resulted in a desperation lob across the right side of the field to Frank Gore? Yeah, it wasn't desperation more than it was terrible, god-awful defense. Despite getting pressure on the QB, Gore was open by 20 yards in all directions. Aside from that, the Birds defense let up another 5 plays of 20+ yards. Like in the Indianapolis game, the run defense was sub-par as they allowed over 200 yards on the ground, including over 100 to Gore and 58 to Kaepernick. That being said, 124 of their rushing yards were accumulated on a mere 6 plays (for an average of 20+ YPC). The other 94 yards were gained on 36 rushes, for a YPC of only 2.6.

The Eagles finally had a pass rush against the 49ers, and managed to sack Kaepernick 4 times, and amassing 7 hits on him. Had it been a less mobile quarterback, those numbers could have doubled. Regardless, the pass rush was a good sign moving forward. As for the secondary, they played pretty well too. Aside from the 55 yard pass to Gore I mentioned earlier, they did a good job limiting the big play through the air. They certainly played better than last week when they made Cousins look like a God. As a whole, the Philly D stepped up when needed to keep them in the game, limiting San Fran to just 2 touchdowns. This game could have been much worse if even one of the four FGs were converted to a TD.

Standouts included (believe it or not) Cary Williams and DeMeco Ryans each with 7 solo tackles, Connor Barwin (7 total tackles, 2 QB hits, 1 sack), Cedric Thornton (6 solo tackles, 2 for a loss), Bradley Fletcher (6 total tackles, 2 passes defensed), and of course Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins once again had an interception (to go with his 7 total tackles), and managed to score on the return thanks to a wonderful return. His signing has proved to be huge thus far.

Special Teams

Without the Eagles special teams playing as well as they did, there would have been no shot to win this game. There really wasn't any downside to their play, so I'll jump into the positives.

Darren Sproles once again proved his worth with an excellent 82 yard punt return for a TD. Just before that the punt return team managed to block a San Francisco punt in the endzone, which they recovered for a touchdown. The punt coverage team fared well too, as they only gave up 6.8 yards per return. Donnie Jones averaged 48.5 yards per punt, landing one inside the 20 (another should have been downed at the 1). Cody Parkey, a non-factor for the most part, had 2 touchbacks. Kickoff coverage was good, limiting the 49ers to a 22.5 yard return average. I've said it enough, but special teams are why the Eagles ever had a chance to win this game.


-Philadelphia had no business winning this game, yet nearly did. Loss still hurts.
-The Eagles scored on 17 of 37 of their previous drives. 0-11 for this game, back down to Earth.
-TOP was utterly lopsided. It correctly indicated a Niners win, now 2-2 on the season.
-The refs made some terrible calls on both sides of the ball.
-I had this game as a loss before the season, so let's not all go crazy that the Eagles are 3-1 for Christ's sake. They will still probably enter the week 7 bye at 5-1.
-Lane Johnson makes his return next week, and should instantly improve the O-line.

(Eagles at 49ers PDF)

Last week vs Washington: W 37-34
Next week vs St. Louis Rams (1-2): Sunday 1pm

1 comment:

  1. "Philadelphia had no business winning this game, yet nearly did. Loss still hurts." Yup. I had the birds losing this game from the preseason, too. I have the birds 12-2 this season so still looking good.