Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eagles vs Colts: Behind the Numbers 2014

The kick is up and it's GOOOOOOOD! Eagles win 30-27!!!

The kick is up and it's GOOOOOOOD! Eagles win 30-27!!!

See what I did there? I hate icing the kicker; can someone please do a study on how ineffective it is? I had no doubt that Cody Parkey would drill the kick the second time, and he did just that to give the Philadelphia Eagles a dramatic 30-27 comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts as time expired. Once again the Eagles found themselves in a first half hole before storming back in the last 30 minutes. The game was still fairly close throughout with the Colts and Eagles seemingly evenly matched, so let's see if the numbers support that:

Like was the case last year, take a glance at the far right of the graph and you'll see why the Eagles won this matchup with the Colts. They were able to force 2 turnovers later in the game, and capitalized as best they could by scoring 2 touchdowns. Indianapolis was unable to produce any points from their interception right before halftime, and failed to force an additional turnover. While still on the right side, penalties were also a huge problem, especially for Philadelphia. 11 penalties for 90 yards is just way too much, and that issue needs to be addressed. Maybe it shouldn't be as surprising after last week, but the Eagles were able to limit the Colts to only a 33% conversion rate on 3rd downs. Just like last week, Philly was able to convert 42% of their 3rd down attempts.

Continuing to move left across the graph, first downs were about even (as expected). Rushing yards were in favor of Indy, which is only surprising in that it's not a higher total. The Birds absolutely dominated the passing game though, nearly doubling the Colts passing yards, resulting in outgaining them by over 100 yards (a whopping 458 yards to 341). And again, the Eagles ran fewer plays (65 vs 72) but were able to make the best of them with an amazing 7.0 average gain (compared to a modest 4.7 for the Colts). Oh, and the Philadelphia Eagles won the only battle that mattered, outscoring the Indianapolis Colts 30-27.


You'll hear it all week, but Chip Kelly's playcalling in the red zone was atrocious. It almost seemed like he outsmarted himself, since they passed when they should have ran and ran when they should have passed. Because of that the Eagles were only 3 of 7 in red zone possessions (compared to 3 of 4 for the Colts). Had they lost, that would have been the reason why. I will say that the offensive line gave Foles great protection and plenty of time, and Foles didn't take a sack or make any boneheaded plays. He scrambled when needed, and knew when to end a play. He appeared able to check down to a second or third option, and finished with and average of over 15 yards per completion.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia also had to overcome more poor play from Nick Foles. There were nearly half a dozen times that I said out loud "he doesn't look sharp tonight". Foles wasn't quite hitting guys in stride on screen passes or quick out routes,  He underthrew several passes, including 2 or 3 to Jeremy Maclin (one of which was intercepted). Speaking of Maclin: he appears to be getting open on plenty of deep routes, and is making it easy to forget about that Jackson guy. Foles needs to start connecting with him more (like last week), and when that happens watch out. Riley Cooper dropped a TD on a ball he didn't quite adjust to, and didn't do anything great. Probably had more drops than catches. Zach Ertz made a tremendous catch, but also had a costly drop. Overall I like his game so far this year, and looks to be a good weapon.

Speaking of weapons, let's get to the RBs. Holy shit, that is THE definition of a dynamic duo. LeSean McCoy's cut were unreal, as he was easily able to change course while maintaining speed and momentum. That being said, he was tripped up on 4-5 plays that he would otherwise have broken free for a TD or long gain. Darren Sproles didn't have that problem, as he was downright explosive against the Colts' defense. His acceleration was impressive, and he hit even the smallest gaps with ease. I can't believe the Eagles got this guy (for only a fifth round pick!), but I'm not complaining. He's been even better than I expected. McCoy was nearly impossible to account for last year, and I'm sure the addition of Sproles keeps defensive coordinators up at night. I'm still shocked that after only 2 games with Philly he already has career longs in rushing (last week) and receiving (this week). Certainly not underutilized anymore.

The Eagles only had the ball for about a third of the game, but made the most of it.
Bonus chart of time of possession this week, since it was quite lopsided. The Eagles only had the ball for 23+ minutes, or about a quarter and a half. It brings up an interesting point though, as anyone who watched the game would agree with: this team can strike at any time. They only need a couple minutes to march down the field, so time really is never a factor. The longest drive for Philly was their first, clocking in at 3:45. They only had three more over 2 minutes, and the other 8 were 1:57 or quicker. Indy's longest was 2 seconds away from 6 minutes, with 5 more being longer than 3 minutes. The only issue I have has to do with running out the clock, but I was pleasantly surprised the Eagles were able to do so on their final drive. I'm also glad they settled for a field goal, instead of going for another quick strike TD. I know this is what a team is supposed to do, but it's the first time they've done so to my knowledge.


Ok, so what happened to the Birds rush defense? And why was the pass defense suddenly able to contain Andrew Luck? I guess the pass defense was better due to tighter coverage, but I can't explain why the rush defense was so bad (especially after starting the game off well). The holes opened up by Indianapolis were ridiculous, and missed tackles didn't help anything. The D-line needs a serious lesson on wrapping up this week. Guess it was that unbalanced line. And don't even get me started on the penalties: 2 neutral zone infractions and an offsides penalty, all of which resulted in Indy first downs if I remember correctly. The line was able to get a decent pass rush, but could never get close enough to sack Luck. They did make him hurry some throws and got a couple good hits on him, but yet again it needs improvement.

Of course, it wasn't just negative for the Philly D. The secondary was probably the highlight, as they were able to keep Luck at bay for the most part. I contribute that mostly to Cary Williams, who played easily his best game as an Eagle. His name was never mentioned poorly; he wound up with 5 solo tackles (1 for a loss) and was not beat for any long passes. Not to be outdone was safety Malcolm Jenkins (6 combined tackles, 2 passes defensed), who proved he was worth the offseason acquisition. He didn't let the Colts receivers behind him, and he essentially saved the game for the Eagles. During a 4th quarter drive with Indianapolis up by 7 and well within Adam Vinatieri's field goal range, Jenkins was able to get a jump on a route and make a running interception. If the Colts scored there, it would have been a 2 possession game and nearly impossible for the Birds to recover before the clock hit 0. Side note: I believe the non-call on Cary Williams during that play was correct, as the contact was shown to be incidental before the throw and Williams did not push the receiver down. (I'm all for letting them play a little bit anyway.) The defense buckled down after tying the game, forcing a crucial 3 and out on the Colts last drive. They were able to limit the big play too, with the longest pass play only going for 19 yards. By comparison, Luck had only 1 less completion but threw for 159 less yards.

Other standouts included DeMeco Ryans (7 solo/3 assisted tackles, fumble recovery), Bennie Logan (6 solo/1 assisted tackles), Mychal Kendricks (4 solo/3 assisted tackles - thankfully he says he'll be back next week), and Casey Matthews (because he should be standing out of bounds at all times). Fletcher Cox and Trent Cole combined for 6 solo tackles, and 2 forced fumbles.

Special Teams

We all knew it but didn't want to admit that Cody Parkey could miss a field goal. He did indeed miss, but he redeemed himself by hitting his other 3 attempts including the 36 yard game winner. It's also nice to see the touchbacks are continuing, though I am still puzzled as to why they elected to kick a line drive in the first half. Donnie Jones is probably the most underrated Eagle, as he continues to punt well. The punt coverage team was just OK for the most part though, as the Colts averaged 11 yards on their punt returns (a number cut short by penalties). Not much to complain about here though, just a few things for the special teams to clean up.


-This was my first week taking notes while watching the game, in an attempt to get some real-time reactions and a hope to speed up writing my recap. I think it helped, so I will probably continue to do that when I can.
-Decided to graph time of possession this game, since it was not even close. I think with about 10 minutes left ESPN put up a graphic for TOP: Indy already had surpassed 30 minutes with the Eagles less than 20. It obviously did not indicate who won. 1-1 for the season.
-The Eagles scored on 6 of 12 real possessions (4 of 7 in the second half), with a missed FG and interception. Compare that to the Colts, who were 5 of 10 (I didn't count the fumble as a real drive). Philadelphia is now 11 for 26 on the season.
-The Birds lead the league in points scored, and all but 6 have come in the second half. So that's 58 points scored in 4 quarters; only New Orleans has as many points through 2 games. I really hope they can put a full game together soon!
-By definition, that WAS a horse collar tackle. Quit complaining.
-As I mentioned earlier, can we please do away with icing the kicker? Or at least change the rule? How does it benefit the defense when a timeout is called milliseconds before the ball is snapped? The kicker gets a free chance to attempt the field goal, and can only help his chances if he misses. Either call it before the play is run, or don't call a timeout at all.
-How often is there a game with NO SACKS on either team?
-I know MNF is a national broadcast, but holy hell were there an obscene amount of commercials.
-Fact of the week: The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to start the season 2-0 after trailing each game by 14 or more points. Probably doesn't matter, but it does give the team some character and shows they never give up.
-Yes, it's still early in the season, but that was a big win for Philadelphia. Based on what has happened during the season so far, it appears any team is beatable. At 2-0, the Eagles are looking down on everyone in the NFC.

(Eagles at Colts PDF)

Last week vs Jacksonville: W 34-17
Next week vs Washington (1-1): Sunday, 1pm

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