How Much Did the Eagles Improve from 2012 to 2013?

Elsa

Comparing stats from the Eagles 2012 season to the 2013 season. How much did of an impact did Chip Kelly have in his first year as head coach?

The 2012 Philadelphia Eagles were a team on the decline. In Andy Reid's last year in Philadelphia, the Eagles went 4-12 and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. Reid was fired promptly after the season ended and a few weeks later the Eagles hired Chip Kelly. Kelly went on to show exactly why the Eagles hired him, turning around a losing roster into NFC East division winners in just one season. Expectations were largely exceeded, even by those who were most optimistic. A 10-6 record was not commonly foreseen. Last week, I took a look at how the 2013 Eagles compared to the NFL average. It's apparent the Eagles did improve from 2012 to 2013, but by how much? Let's look at the numbers.

GENERAL:

Category 2013 Rank 2012 Rank Difference
Point Differential/Game 3.8 9 -10.3 30 14.1
Yard Differential/Game 23.3 10 10.9 12 12.4

At the most basic level, the Eagles scored a lot more points than they allowed as compared to last year. That's what I call a winning recipe.

OFFENSE:

Category 2013 Rank 2012 Rank Difference
Yards/Game 417.3 2 354.1 15 63.2
Yards/Play 6.33 1 5.25 20 1.08
RushYards/Game 160.4 1 117.1 13 43.3
RushYards/Play 5.13 1 4.54 8 0.59
PassYards/Game 256.9 9 236.9 13 20
PassYards/Play 8.09 1 6.13 26 1.96
Interception Rate 1.77% 5 2.43% 10 -0.66%
Sacks/Pass Attempt 9.06% 25 7.77% 22 1.29%
First Downs/Game 22.2 5 20.8 11 1.4
3rd Down Pct 38.97% 12 37.39% 18 1.58%
4th Down Pct 50% 15t 58.33% 11 -8.33%
RedZone Pct 52.63% 18 44.00% 28 8.63%
Goal to Go Pct 70.59% 17t 46.43% 32 24.16%
Points/Game 27.6 4 17.5 29 10.1

Lots and lots of improvement on the offensive end. Chip Kelly really made the most out of his talented core of offensive players. The Eagles offense had grown stale under Reid and Kelly breathed new life into it. The only areas the Eagles finished worse was sacks per pass attempt and 4th down percentage (small sample size in play here). Two critical areas the Eagles improved in was their efficiency in RedZone and Goal to Go situations. As where the Eagles left points on the field by settling for short field goals, Kelly's Eagles took advantage of scoring position more often. Nick Foles knack for not throwing interceptions (only 2 on the season) helped improve the team's interception rate.

DEFENSE:

Category 2013 Rank 2012 Rank Difference
Yards/Game 394 29 343.2 15 50.8
Yards/Play 5.48 20 5.52 20 -0.04
RushYards/Game 104.3 10 126.3 23 -22
RushYards/Play 3.77 4 4.22 16 -0.45
PassYards/Game 289.8 32 216.9 9 72.9
PassYards/Play 6.92 20 7.15 24 -0.23
Interception Rate 2.84% 14 1.65% 29 1.19%
Sacks/Pass Attempt 5.52% 31 6.19% 22 -0.67%
First Downs/Game 23 30t 19.8 16t 3.2
3rd Down Pct 40.26% 24 40.89% 26 -0.63%
4th Down Pct 40.00% 12t 20.00% 1 20.00%
RedZone Pct 53.06% 12 54.55% 18t -1.49%
Goal to Go Pct 66.67% 11 75.00% 23t -8.33%
Points/Game 23.9 17 27.8 29t -3.9

The Eagles defensive numbers are curious. Bill Davis's unit largely exceeded expectations, having gone 9 straight weeks of holding their opponents to 21 or less at one point. The eye test says the Eagles defense wasn't above average, but it was overall "good enough". The run defense looks to have improved while the pass defense was worse. Oddly enough the Eagles finished very close to the same amount of yards allowed per play. Where the Eagles improved were some critical areas such as RedZone and Goal to Go situations, just like the Eagles offense improved in those areas. Forcing turnovers was an essential part of the 2013 Eagles "bend-but-don't-break" defense. Having their interception rate increase significantly helped in that area.

SPECIAL TEAMS (FOR):

Category 2013 Rank 2012 Rank Difference
Punt Return Avg 6.6 27 10.3 13 -3.7
Kickoff Return Avg 21.4 26 21 28 0.4
Field Goals Made 82% 22 87.10% 13 -4.96%

No real improvement here. The Eagles were better off returning punts and making field goals than they were in 2013.

SPECIAL TEAMS (AGAINST):

Category 2013 Rank 2012 Rank Difference
Punt Return Avg 8 11 13.6 31 -5.6
Kickoff Return Avg 23.6 19 24.7 21 -1.1

The Eagles coverage units were certainly a part of special teams that improved. Kickoff coverage improved marginally but the Eagles punt coverage went from near last to just outside a top 10 rank.

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Verdict: The Eagles significantly improved on offense, generally stayed the same on defense but improved in critical areas, and still have work to do on special teams.

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