The guys from Numberfire wrote a piece for ESPN Insider yesterday highlighting the top five under-performing teams in the NFL. Obviously the Eagles were among them. Their conclusion was that inconsistency and poor fourth quarter play is what killed the Eagles, which really any idiot could have seen, but the methodology with which they reached this conclusion was interesting.
Ah, the dream team! With so much talent, it's still shocking that the Eagles missed the playoffs. The Eagles were the anti-Tebows this season, playing well except when they needed to: in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles blew fourth-quarter lead after fourth-quarter lead, culminating in a meltdown against the Kevin Kolb-less Arizona Cardinals in Week 10. All these losses were made worse by the fact that Lesean McCoy was the most efficient rusher in the league (on the league's second-most efficient rushing team based on strength of schedule), adding 27 points to the Eagles' offense above expectation in the running game and 16 in the passing game.
The disappointment wasn't just on offense. Despite all criticism of new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, the Eagles were actually above-average defensively, preventing three points per game from being scored that a league-average defense would have allowed.
Their downfall lies in the inconsistent nature of the team: their standard deviation (a nerdy way to represent the team's consistency) in our opponent-adjusted net expected points (the same basic scale used to calculate Total QBR) was the second-highest in the league. As a favorite, you want to be as consistent as possible, something the Eagles will certainly need to address moving forward.
They estimated that the Eagles would have been expected to win 9.75 games based on their performance this season, when in fact they only won 8.