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Needs by the numbers

Domo wrote an interesting article about some revealing numbers the Eagles compiled this year. The numbers spell out pretty clearly where the Eagles were lacking this year.

First, the pass rush. Trent Cole had a great year with 12.5 sacks, but every other DE combined had just 9.5. The defense as a whole struggled to rush the passer.

That would be the number of sacks by Jim Johnson's defense, which tied for the second fewest since Johnson arrived in Philadelphia 9 years ago. And 10 of those 37 sacks came in one game, against the Lions.

Right end Trent Cole played start-to-finish strong, notching 12 1/2 sacks. Tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson also played well. But there wasn't enough pass-rush production out of the left end position. Juqua Thomas, who played way too many snaps for a guy his size, thanks to the ineffectiveness of Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard, had just two sacks in the last 13 games.

For all the talk about the secondary, I'm not sure there's a greater need on defense than another DE. With Howard and Kearse likely gone, there's going to be a need not in quality but quantity at DE. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Eagles spend good money on a free agent DE or pick one very early. Another good DE should also help raise the Eagles' NFL worst 19 takeaways.

The next number really typifies the Eagles problems on offense. Lots of yards, not a lot of points.

That would be the number of pass plays of 20 or more yards by the Eagles this season, which was 19 fewer than in '06. The Eagles' 350 completions were a franchise record. Their wide receivers caught 53 more passes this year than last year. But they played too much small ball. The Eagles' wideouts averaged just 13.5 yards per catch, which was 4.2 yards per catch less than in '06. The Eagles had just two fewer offensive scoring drives this year than last. But just 60 percent of them went for touchdowns this year (34 of 60), compared to 71 percent in '06 (44 of 62).

Fewer big plays means longer drives, which usually means more field goals and fewer touchdowns. Thirty of the Eagles' scoring drives this year were nine plays or more; last year, they had just 19 that long.

That number screams for another playmaker on this offense. It could be a receiver, it could be a TE... whichever. Either way we need a guy that can get in into the end zone and/or get open downfield.

The needs are obvious. The Eagles should have around $30 million in cap space to spend this offseason and they could have as many as 10 picks in the draft. In other words, they have the ammo to improve this team. Will they do it?

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