Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Eagles vs Rams: Behind the Numbers 2014

So the bad news is that the Philadelphia Eagles almost blew a 27 point lead to the St. Louis Rams. The good news is that they hung on to win 34-28. The game was much closer than it needed to be, but the Eagles offense seemed to shut down towards the end of the 3rd quarter. It's as if they said "we have a 27 point lead, that's good enough. Shut 'er down boys!". Instead of scoring again to ice the game, the Eagles let the Rams score 21 straight points and gave them a chance to win at the end. Let's take a look at the numbers behind the game; I'll try to keep it shorter this week:

*Note: switched avg gain stat. Will be fixed shortly.

At first glance, the numbers appear fairly even. Upon further inspection, the numbers may actually indicate that the Rams should have won. Though the Eagles came out with the better score, the Rams ran 6 more plays for over 100 more yards (466 to 352) with a better average gain (a good 6.1 to a moderate 5 yards). The discrepancy in passing yards was to be expected (375 vs 207) since St. Louis played from behind the entire game. However, you would have expected Philadelphia to gain more than they did on the ground; that being said they still outrushed St. Louis by 20 yards. The Rams gained 7 more first downs than the Birds, but fared slightly worse on 3rd downs. Philly played a fairly clean game with only 4 penalties for 39 yards, while St. Louis had 10 for 82 yards. Both teams capitalized equally with 14 points from their 3 turnovers.

So where was this game won for the Eagles? Hint: check the Special Teams category.


I'm really not sure what's wrong with the Eagles' offense. I really want to blame the offensive line because it's easy to do but that doesn't explain everything. LeSean McCoy looked a little like his old self on Sunday, but still seems to be having some issues running north and south. Nick Foles was not sacked in the game, yet still cannot throw the ball deep and is making some poor decisions. Finally, the offensive line is not making Chip Kelly call terrible plays with a 27 point lead, nor are they forcing him to make more bad play calls in the red zone (2 more field goals with the ball inside the 10). Or to eat up time to finish the game

Let's get all the negatives out of the way now. Somehow that god-awful play from McCoy -where he ran about 75 yards left and right on a screen pass, resulting in a fumble- was NOT the worst play of the game. No, that honor would go to Nick Foles, who failed to dive feet first after scrambling for a first down. What could have been a nice play resulted in Foles fumbling the ball when NOBODY TOUCHED HIM. I wouldn't be surprised if both of those plays are #1 and #2 on SportsCenter's Not Top Ten this Friday. And let's not forget Foles inability to throw the deep ball; he severely underthrew Maclin on the sideline for an interception. I can't tell what, but something seems off.

As I alluded to above, the offensive line was able to hold the Rams sack-less Sunday. I'm trying to think of more positives, but there really weren't many. Just when the offense looked efficient, they would end up with a turnover or a stalled drive. It never gets old to see Jeremy Maclin play at a high level, and I'm glad he has basically all season. Riley Cooper finally made a great catch for a TD, which is what he is being paid to do. He took that ball away from the defender. Darren Sproles showed what he can do, even with limited playing time (25 yard run in the 4th).


The Birds defense played great for about 3/4 of the game, then appeared gassed and played essentially no defense the rest of the way. The pass rush was established early on, with a sack on the second series for the Rams. Overall they were able to put decent pressure on Austin Davis for most of the game, and recorded 4 sacks (and 2 sack fumbles). However, only 1 of them was in the 4th quarter, when the Eagles knew the Rams would be passing. I can't entirely blame the defensive line for the terrible 4th quarter though, since the secondary was even worse. Oh, and the offense didn't help, as they only ran 17 plays and were unable to sustain a drive beyond 3 minutes in an attempt to run out the clock. The run defense was fairly good as well, only allowing a couple big rushes.

Cary Williams sucks. I'm tired of seeing him not turn his head around to make a play. I'm sorry, you can have a receiver covered like a fly on shit, but if you can't see the ball you can't make a play. Though not as terrible, Bradley Fletcher was pretty bad in that aspect too. I have no idea why Brandon Boykin isn't playing more. You can't tell me that the cornerbacks played well this game, when they let up 4 passes 25 yards or more. Guess who let up the 2 longest plays of the game? Yep, Fletcher and Williams. Despite the poor play of the corners, the secondary and defense as a whole did play well for most of the game. They honestly looked gassed at the end, with around 6 minutes left. They missed some tackles too, so there is plenty of room for improvement.

DeMeco Ryans continue to make plays, and finished with 8 combined tackles. Believe it or not Casey Matthews played a good game, as he recorded 6 combined tackles without me wanting to punch him. Malcolm Jenkins didn't have an interception (and I thought for sure the Eagles would have one) but did have 5 solo tackles. I'd give the defensive MVP to Connor Barwin though; he was all over the field making plays and recorded 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, 2 tackles for losses, and even had a pass defensed. A close second was Cedric Thornton, who had 2 fumble recoveries with one for a touchdown. Vinny Curry and Trent Cole each recorded a sack in the win.

Special Teams

For the second week in a row, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to go up 7-0 without their offense ever stepping foot on the field. They, again, blocked a punt on the first series for the St. Louis Rams and recovered the ball for a quick TD. They didn't have any return TDs like last week, but Darren Sproles was able to have a nice 23 yard return (and influenced a bad punt from the Rams).

After the first kickoff from Cody Parkey, he was at a 64% touchback rate. I felt like he could have had more throughout the game (only 1 additional touchback), but the kickoff coverage did a great job at limiting the Rams to only a 25.2 average return. The punt coverage continues to perform well too, as they limited Tavon Austin to only 7 yards on 2 returns. There were no punt touchbacks, and even one pinned inside the 10.

The 7 points scored from special teams were the difference in this game.


-One more score would have sealed the game! Philly should take a page out of Belichick's playbook and just keep scoring. This is the NFL, and you win by scoring points. I get you want to run the clock out, but when you can't do that you should just continue to score.
-The Eagles obviously scored on more drives than they did last week, going 4 for 11. They are now 21 for 48 overall. Still room for improvement, even with scoring 34 points.
-I'm concerned with Shady's confidence, which was noticeable after his dumb play. He even took himself out of the game late in the 4th, which just adds to my concern.
-In my opinion, the worst play call from Kelly was right before the 2 minute warning to end the game. It was 3rd and 6 from the St. Louis 44, and the Rams had just called their 2nd time out. A first down would essentially seal it, and probably put the Eagles in position for a field goal to ice it. The result was a -1 yard run from Darren Sproles. 2 minute warning hits, then the Eagles are forced to punt. The Rams are pinned at their own 7 before a 43 yard pass puts them at midfield, with about 1:30 to drive for a TD. Luckily the Eagles D stopped them, but here's my point: knowing all the circumstances involved, why not call a pass play on 3rd and long? Even if it the pass was incomplete, surely they could have trimmed 6 seconds off the clock? I don't know if Kelly didn't have the faith in his team to execute a short pass play, but I feel as if a pass had a better chance at converting the third down. The clock was going to stop after 6 seconds no matter what.
-Speaking of the clock, Philly lost the TOP battle with 27:01 of possession to the Rams 32:59. TOP has now indicated the winner in only 2 of 5 games this season.
-Ironically, the only quarter the Eagles won the TOP was in the 4th. Sure they were trying to run out the clock and the Rams needed to score quick, but I think the 14 points for St. Louis and 0 for Philadelphia was more telling.

(Eagles vs Rams PDF)

Last week @ San Francisco: L 26-21
Next week vs New York Giants (3-2): Sunday 8:30pm

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