Comparing Eagles vs. Ducks: First 15 Plays Per Game in 2012

Stephen Dunn

The Philadelphia Eagles were atrocious on offense at the start of games last season, while the Oregon Ducks were pretty much as successful as possible.

Andy Reid always had a reputation as a master planner, an excellent during-the-week coach. His first 15 plays for each game, the ones scripted during the week of preparation, were lauded for their creativity and effectiveness. It was the inability to make in-game adjustments that did Reid in time and time again. Even before the 2012 season fell apart completely, the Eagles were getting off to slow starts, and those scripted 15 plays to begin the game had lost their magic. Whether it was the fault of Andy and Marty Mornhinweg, the players, bad luck, a combination of everything sucking in concert... whatever. I don't know how they stacked up with the rest of the league, but the bottom line is the Eagles were painfully horrendous at the start of games last season (whereas in the past that had been a strength). It'll ultimately depend on the players and how they perform, but I expect things to be different in 2013, and here's why....

You know which coach and team didn't suck at the start of games, in those first 15 plays? Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks. Yeah, I know, totally different set of circumstances and level of competition, but I like to think the staggering success of Oregon early on in games reflects Chip Kelly's overall football philosophy: fast, aggressive. Whereas the Eagles routinely sleepwalked through the first quarter-plus of games in 2012, the Ducks came out like gangbusters and in attack mode. Every team in every sport wants to get off to a fast start, but Chip Kelly does all he can to ensure that his offense makes it happen.

Below is a breakdown of the Eagles and Ducks' first 15 plays for each game of the 2012 season.

Note: I disregard plays negated due to penalties. I also count scrambles as called pass plays -- because that's what they are -- but factor the yardage into the run total, and subtract sack yardage from total passing yards.

EAGLES

Game 1: @ Browns (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
4 29* 11 52 81 2 (FUM, INT) 0

*includes 16-yard scramble

Note: The first called run play of the season was an end-around to DeSean Jackson.

Game 2: vs. Ravens (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
8 13* 7 78 91 1 (INT) 7

*includes 1-yard rush TD by LeSean McCoy after turnover gave Eagles ball at Ravens' 15

Game 3: @ Cardinals (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
5 22* 10 44 66 1 (FUM) 0

*includes 1-yard scramble

Game 4: vs. Giants (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
5 6* 10 72 78 0 0

*includes 3-yard scramble

Game 5: @ Steelers (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
6 35* 9 40 75 0 0

*includes 9-yard scramble

Note: Michael Vick's goal line fumble came on the 16th play.

Game 6: vs. Lions (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
4 0* 11 24 24 1 (FUM snap) 0

*includes 12-yard scramble (-12 yards rushing on 4 carries)

Game 7: vs. Falcons (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
6 28* 9 28 56 0 0

*includes 7-yard scramble

Note: McCoy had 2-yard TD run on 16th play.

Game 8: @ Saints (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
6 21 9 27* 48 0 0

*Includes 12-yard sack taken by Vick at NO 42; does not include the extra 10 yards lost on the resulting fumble, which was recovered by Todd Herremans at the PHI 48.

Game 9: vs. Cowboys (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
7 14 8 48* 62 0 7

*includes 2-yard TD pass from Vick to Riley Cooper

Game 10: @ Redskins (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
4 13 11 41 54 2 (both INT) 0

Note: This is the first game that Nick Foles started.

Game 11: vs. Panthers (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
6 39 9 40 79 0 3*

Note: Only time all season the Eagles attempted (and made) a FG on opening drive.

Game 12: @ Cowboys (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
7 34* 8 82 116 0 7

*includes 10-yard TD run by Bryce Brown

Game 13: @ Buccaneers (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
5 -2 10 17 15 0 0

Note: Of course, the game where Foles/offense started out the slowest is the only one where the Eagles would go on to win.

Game 14: vs. Bengals (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
5 13 10 60 73 2 (FUM, PBK)* 0

*PBK stands for "punt block," which I'm counting as a turnover. You might remember it as Marvin McNutt's shining moment as an Eagle. The offense/special teams had a lost fumble (by Jeremy Maclin) and a punt blocked within their first 6 snaps of the game.

Game 15: vs. Redskins (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
7 30 8 65* 95 0 7

*includes 27-yard TD pass from Foles to Maclin

Game 16: @ Giants (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
6 28 9 49 77 1 (INT) 0

*Note: Michael Vick returned to start this game, replacing the injured Nick Foles.

Final Numbers

Called Runs Yards (excl. scrambles) Yards (incl. scrambles) Called Passes Yards Total Yards (run + pass) Total Turnovers Total Points
91 275 (3.02 YPC) 323 149 767 (5.15 YPA) 1,090 (4.54 YPP) 10 (5 INT, 4 FUM, 1 PBK) 31 (4 TD, 1 FG)

Note: Called Run/Called Pass ratio was 38/62

Analysis: Based on YPP (yards per play), the Eagles were, in fact, just as terrible in their first 15 plays as I expected going into this study. Compared to the rest of the league in terms of YPP overall, that 4.54 figure would have ranked 31st of 32 teams, ahead of only the Cardinals (4.1). The Eagles ranked 20th in the league at 5.3 YPP, just to magnify how bad they were at the start of games.

What really hurt the Eagles was -- this might come as a shock to you -- turnovers, which ruined any chance the offense had to put up points early in the game. They turned the ball over twice as often as they registered scoring plays. Only thrice all season did the offense score on its first drive: 1 TD vs. Dallas, 1 FG vs. Carolina, 1 TD vs. Washington.

OREGON

Game 1: vs. Arkansas State (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
6 38* 9 77** 115 0 15

*includes 4-yard TD run by Kenjon Barner (with 2-point conversion) **includes 12-yard TD pass from Marcus Mariota to De'Anthony Thomas

Note: Oregon scored 3rd TD on 17th play -- 3 drives, 3 TD to open game.

Game 2: vs. Fresno State (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
12 151* 3 6 157 0 14

*includes 2 TD runs (39 yards by Thomas, 3 yards by Barner) on first 2 drives

Game 3: vs. Tennessee Tech (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
5 70* 10 148** 218 0 21

*includes 2 TD runs (1 yard by Barner, 59 yards by Thomas) **includes 49-yard pass from Mariota to Thomas, who fumbled the ball at the 1; ball was recovered in the endzone for a TD by Jake Fisher.

Note: For those keeping score at home, the Ducks scored a TD on each of their first 8 possessions of the season.

Game 4: vs. Arizona (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
10 32 5 37 75 1 (FUM) 0

Note: First PAC-10 game for Oregon. Ducks had 4th and 1 at its own 39 on first drive of the game; Chip went for it, but Mariota was stuffed for a 4-yard loss. Arizona was stopped on 4th and Goal on the resulting drive. On the next Ducks drive, Mariota fumbled at the Oregon 11; Arizona recovered, but three plays later Matt Scott threw an INT. Oregon scored a TD on the ensuing drive, on its 17th offensive snap, and would go on to win the game easily, 49-0.

Game 5: @ Washington State (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
8 67* 7 63 130 0 13

*includes 2 TD runs (22 yards by Barner, 13 yards by Mariota), one failed 2-point conversion

Game 6: vs. Washington (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
8 57* 7 16 73 1 (INT) 7

*includes 16-yard TD run by Thomas, which came on the second play after a fumbled punt by Washington gave Oregon the ball at the Huskies' 20-yard line.

Game 7: @ Arizona State (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
11 133* 4 5 138 1 (FUM)** 8

*includes 71-yard TD run by Barner **Mariota lost a fumble on second play of the game, led to Arizona State TD

Game 8: vs. Colorado (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
10 106* 5 66 172 0 21

*includes 3 TD runs (1 yard by Barner, 9 yards by Thomas, 5 yards by Mariota), the second of which happened after Colorado fumbled the kickoff and Oregon recovered at the Buffaloes' 17.

Game 9: @ Southern California (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
8 58 7 98* 156 0 14

*includes 2 TD passes (16 yards from Mariota to Thomas, 21 yards from Mariota to Josh Huff)

Game 10: @ California (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
7 21 8 91* 112 0 7

*includes 10-yard TD pass from Mariota to Colt Lyerla

Game 11: vs. Stanford (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
8 77 7 27 104 0 0

Note: Oregon lost this game, 17-14. It was the Ducks' only loss of the season. The 104 yards of total offense in the first 15 plays is a little misleading, as 77 of that 104 came on a single rush, while the other 14 produced just 27.

Game 12: @ Oregon State (play-by-play game log)

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
10 135* 5 12 147 0 6**

*includes 42-yard TD run by Mariota (2-point conversion failed) **includes missed FG

Game 13: Fiesta Bowl vs. Kansas State (play-by-play game log)

Note: De'Anthony Thomas started the game for Oregon with a 94-yard opening kickoff return for a TD.

Run Yards Pass Yards Total Yards Turnovers Total Points
9 27 6 39* 66 0 7

*includes 23-yard TD pass from Mariota to Thomas

Final Numbers

Called Runs Yards Called Passes Yards Total Yards (run + pass) Total Turnovers Total Points
112 972 (8.68 YPC) 83 685 (8.25 YPA) 1,657 (8.5 YPP) 3 (2 FUM, 1 INT) 133 (19 TD)

Note: Called Run/Called Pass ratio was 57/43

Disclaimer: I'm not sure how many of the runs by Mariota were scrambles. Without going back and watching the film of every game, I relied on the ESPN.com play-by-play reporting and which words were used. If the QB scrambled instead of immediately took off on a called run, the game log classifies it as such (as was the case when going through the Eagles' game logs). Not once was the word "scramble" included in the Oregon play-by-play game logs.

Analysis: Yes, I know, the vast discrepancy between the level of competition faced by the Eagles and Ducks is a joke, but these offenses were polar opposites. Look at the run/pass ratio, look at the YPC/YPA/YPP, look at the (lack of) turnovers, look at the (ton of) total points. The Ducks' YPC, YPA and YPP numbers are absurd and obviously won't be duplicated at the NFL level, but I do think there's merit to the stats from a basic perspective.

Oregon accumulated under 100 yards in its first 15 plays just 3 times last season, while the Eagles eclipsed 100 yards just 1 time.

Oregon accumulated under 100 yards in its first 15 plays just 3 times last season, while the Eagles eclipsed 100 yards just 1 time. Oregon averaged 127.5 yards over the first 15 plays per game, while the Eagles averaged 68.1. Oregon typically got good field position (something else that'll be much different from what we became accustomed to with Andy Reid's Eagles over the final seasons) and started nearly every game like a bat out of hell, scoring a TD on its first drive a remarkable 8 of 13 times (and a TD by the end of the second drive 11 of 13 times), while the Eagles did so just 2 times. Overall, the Ducks scored 6 (six!) touchdowns for every turnover it committed in the first 15 plays of games. The YPP for the first 15 plays of the game was 3.71 yards more than the Eagles, and the 8.5 figure would've placed first in the entire NFL in 2012 by a ridiculous 2.3 yards (New Orleans ranked 1st at 6.2). Again, I know this is not a fair comparison on its face, but I feel it's at least worth noting.

As always, it comes down to players executing on the field, but I have a feeling we'll see this Eagles offense be among the best in football on initial drives and the first 15 plays of the game. Expect a blitzkrieg offense, expect to get off to fast starts, expect serious excitement... expect the exact opposite from last season's disaster.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Bleeding Green Nation

You must be a member of Bleeding Green Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bleeding Green Nation. You should read them.

Join Bleeding Green Nation

You must be a member of Bleeding Green Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bleeding Green Nation. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker