Want to see a bird's eye view of the 2012 season? So did I.
So I put together an illustration showing the Eagles' 2012 performance, relative to long-term league averages, in a variety of statistics. The format is far from perfect, but it's the best I could do in Excel.
I've standardized all the data using standard deviations and ordered it so that the left side is bad and the right side is good. Please note that not all of these statistics are necessarily normally distributed. However, this is the easiest way to get everything on one chart, which allows us to quickly identify where the team's weaknesses and strengths were last season. Additionally, we can quickly identify the areas for which we can expect significant improvement purely as a result of mean reversion.
In particular, you should focus on the stats for which the Eagles were more than two standard deviations WORSE than long-term league average. All averages and standard deviations were computed using 10 years of NFL data (except for Net Field Position and FO Adjusted Games Lost, which uses 5 years of data). The right side of the chart shows you the actual statistical measure for the 2012 Eagles for each stat (i.e. Average Net Field Position was -6.67 yards).
Above, we can see a number of areas where the Eagles were more than 2 standard deviations worse than the long-term average. More importantly, those areas are either predominantly luck-based, or show no year-to-year persistence. Specifically:
- Fumble Recovery Rate
- Fumbles Lost
- Net Field Position (Particularly important and underreported)
- T/O Differential
Eagles fans can expect significant improvement in each of these areas (obviously they're all interrelated to a degree). This next chart isn't as severe, but gives a good view of just how good/bad the Eagles' performance was last season.
Note the last one (bottom of the chart). That's Football Outsiders' measure of injury loss per team. It's a weighted statistic that attempts to account for the relative importance of the players lost to injury as well as the overall number of games lost. The 2012 Eagles, while hit hard by injuries, are not outside the expected range. The concentration of injuries along the O-Line may mean that statistic underrates the degree to which injuries hurt the team, but the point remains, health is likely not an area in which to expect dramatic improvement (already losing Maclin already stopped much of that conversation anyway).
Lastly, for those of you who don't know me, I'm the writer of www.Eaglesrewind.com. My hope is to now make occasional contributions to BGN. You can follow me on Twitter @EaglesRewind. I'm excited to join the BGN community in a more formal role (I previously did two fan posts about run/pass play selection and a new prospect rating system) and look forward to getting some more feedback, specifically on the more radical ideas I tend to post about.