We live in a world of statistics, and those numbers can be carried in many directions. You like Nick Foles and the 27 touchdown passes and only two interceptions he threw last season? How could anyone argue with that statistical line?
Well, some have, and the conversation has made for some offseason fodder.
Here's one that is indisputable, and a number that played such a huge part in the success of the 2013 Eagles and is so vitally important for 2014: 19 turnovers. Those 19 giveaways led to 52 opposing points, while the Eagles took the ball away 31 times, leading to 97 Eagles points.
The message: If you win the turnover battle, you're going to win the game. And the Eagles, who were awful at protecting the football in 2012 on the way to a 4-12 record, reversed their tendencies last season and won the division.
So in the world of extrapolating numbers and predicting ratios, how in the world can the Eagles play with such great efficiency again this season? The windows through which Foles will throw are, in theory, going to be tighter with a tougher (on paper) schedule that includes games against best-of defenses San Francisco and Seattle. Defenses have studied the Chip Kelly offense and have spent an offseason preparing for the tempo and, well, the Eagles aren't going to sneak up on anybody this season.
The goal, though, remains the same for the Eagles: Protect the football and control field position. The Eagles were outstanding doing just that last year. They gave very few short fields after turnovers. The special teams units were improved in coverage. And if you look closely, you will see that the offseason strategy followed that same script.
By trading for running back Darren Sproles, the Eagles acquired a player who is going to provide a great outlet on every third down with his versatility and quickness. Put him in motion on third and 4 and tell who is going to cover Sproles in the flat? Team him up with LeSean McCoy in the backfield and name a team with defensive backs who can cover both players in space. Rookie Jordan Matthews has a chance - a chance, because it's still early to go overboard here - go create some very favorable matchup situations for the Eagles with his size and overlooked speed. He has the body to win battles against smaller defensive backs and the getaway to separate from linebackers.
If you have the idea that Foles needs to get rid of the football a tick more quickly than last year, then you believe the short passing game, the "small ball" in the NFL, is going to be part of Chip Kelly's offensive design this season.
Too, the Eagles made special teams a huge priority in the offseason. They signed Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman to play impact roles in coverage, and cornerback Nolan Carroll II is someone the Eagles think can be a core member on special teams as well. Sproles is, obviously, expected to be a factor in the return game, and re-signing punter Donnie Jones was an important plus in the offseason.
All of that is designed to give the Eagles favorable field position and force opposing offenses to go the length of the field to score points. And it was also done to add to an offense that was very, very good in 2013.
Chip Kelly isn't much of a "numbers" guy. He doesn't buy into a lot of the statistical hype. One that stands out to him, though, is the turnover ratio and what happens after a team either gives the ball away or takes it, an area of improvement that helped the Eagles go from worst (4-12 in 2012) to first (10-6 in 2013) in the NFC East last season.