Twelve point two percent in my mind encapsulates the many issues that Reid faced when it came to play-calling. This figure I also think had such an impact on the team that it can be somewhat attributed to his eventual firing from his Eagles post as Head Coach.
This article came from an after-thought whilst reading Eagles Rewind article on 4th downs and why coaches don’t go for it more than they currently do. It got me thinking, just how good were the Eagles at NOT giving Reid that option, convert a 3rd and no questions asked the drive continues, don’t convert and invariably it’s a punt or FG, field position dependent.
So now you’re wondering what 12.2% is, are you not? That is the percentage of third down attempts that were running plays, a whopping 87.8% of the Eagles 3rd downs in 2012 went through the air.
This is a massive issue as when 3rd down hit, everyone that faced the Eagles knew that the team would suddenly become one dimensional as they always went through the air. Even at 3rd and 1 Reid more often than not opted to go through the air so opposing teams knew they simply had to drop back into coverage.
It had a demoralising effect on our QB’s, due to the opposing secondary backing off into coverage both Foles and Vick found no one open and coverage sacks reigned supreme. Vick was sacked on 8 occasions’ when it came to third downs, Foles had 7. Already we have found that Vick was better at third downs all be it by 1.87% when it came to sacks.
What about TD’s and INT’s, well Vick won that quite convincingly of his third downs just over 7 in every one hundred attempts were touchdown passes, Foles struggled managing just 3 in every hundred. What about Interceptions? Vick was again better than Foles as he managed two from every hundred passes and Foles lost four.
Clearly Vick was the better QB when it came to a third down situation. Why the lack of love for the running game?
I’m not quite sure in all honesty; despite the fact that statistically speaking the passing game was more successful. When you read through the Eagles games play-by-play (which I lovingly did) the running game was probably the more successful of the two.
Take Bryce Brown for example, remarkably successful at third downs despite only participating in 9 of them. Of his nine, five were converted, 4 were not, 56% of his 3rd downs gave us the 1st. As ever stats are not everything, when you delve into each play you soon realise that of his four failed attempts, three were when the Eagles were at 3rd and 15 plus yards. Bar a miracle you’re only ever running for better field position for your punter. One play I believe was 3rd and 28. Wipe of the third and very-long failures and Bryce Brown suddenly has an 83% success rate. Why the hell did we not run it more?
Again you have to be aware that the number was no doubt so over-inflated at 83% simply because Reid always passed so on the extremely rare occasion that he did run it the defense were genuinely caught by surprise hence the high success rate. All said and done Reid still didn’t run it enough.
Brown started four games in total whilst McCoy was injured, McCoy started in 12 games. McCoys carries on third down, 11. He had 8 more games and yet Reid only put the ball in his hands three plays more than back-up Brown. It was not even so much Brown being a 3rd down back as the majority of his 3rd down plays were in his four games so again I have to wonder why Reid had so little faith in McCoy when he needed those vital 1st downs?
McCoy did in fact have the worst 3rd down conversion rate out of the four key offensive players, Vick 58%, Foles 57%, Brown 56% and McCoy 46%. Again a few of his plays were third and very long, but not to the same extent as Bryce Brown so he was somewhat stuffed at the line on a few occasions was McCoy, but Reid seems to have given up on him extremely quickly and yet he’s your biggest weapon be it 1st or 3rd down.
Was it the O-Line? Maybe it was simply Reid having no faith in the Offensive Line and whilst I can understand this view point again I come back to the fact that Brown without his behemothic third downs was near perfect. I simply cannot accept that it was down to Reid having no choice but to pass it.
I realise that a good number of our games we were somewhat chasing our opposition, but in a number of others we were a few key plays from leveling or winning them. Why did we find ourselves so far behind? No doubt it was in part due to everyone knowing that come 3rd and whatever, drop back… cover the pass.
I’ve seen the amount of plays being split 50/50 for run and pass by Chip being discussed by many, I wonder if Chip will do the same when it comes to attempting third downs as we cannot survive through air alone when it comes to this key situation in our teams drive. It also once again highlights the issues that Reid did indeed have with his play-calling here, I wonder if we look at the Chiefs in the season coming, they fair the same as the Eagles of 2012 when it comes to third down plays?
Another quick note, as an Avant fan whilst trawling through I kept my eye on any 3rd downs where the ball went Avant’s way and in reality Mr 3rd down wasn’t as successful as I thought but I don’t know if this is on him or the QB. Of the 16 Avant third downs that caught my eye, 9 were successful catches and 1st downs, 7 were not, one of which being an INT so I doubt that was on him so much. Interesting all the same, 56% success rate, seems like the running theme around the mid 50’s for our conversion rate on third down.
I can only hope Chip irons this along with many other flailing issues that this franchise suffered with in 2012, 2011 and beyond. I think if he utilises McCoy better than Reid ever did than the rewards will be great. If he chooses to lose his faith with one of, if not the best Eagles offensive player then I wonder how many years he’ll remain in Philadelphia.