The 2013 Eagles were a team that exceeded expectations. After going 4-12 in 2012 and overhauling the coaching staff in the offseason, Philadelphia won the division in the team's first year under Chip Kelly. The Eagles were in prime position to repeat as NFC East champions in 2014 before collapsing down the stretch and finishing with the same record as they did in the previous season. Unlike in 2013, however, Philadelphia's 10-6 mark wasn't good enough to qualify for the NFL playoffs.
Recently we looked at how the 2014 Eagles compared to the NFL average. The Eagles were above average in many areas. But how much did they actually progress in Year 2 of Kelly's tenure? Let's examine.
Turnovers were obviously the biggest issue here. +12 to -8 is a huge drop off.
|3rd Down Pct||43.46%||9||38.97%||12||4.49%|
|4th Down Pct||63.64%||2||50.00%||15t||13.64%|
|Goal to Go Pct||62.50%||25t||70.59%||17t||-8.09%|
Philadelphia's offense was elite in 2013. They led the league in several categories. That wasn't the case in 2014. The run game took a step back. The passing attack wasn't as efficient. Turnovers went way up. Sacks went down, however. The Eagles were also better at converting on third and fourth down, but not in the red zone.
Philadelphia took a step back on offense for a number of reasons. The turnovers were the biggest issue. Nick Foles didn't play anything close to the level he did in 2013 before getting hurt. LeSean McCoy finished fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, but he wasn't efficient. McCoy finished 24th in yards per carry. Some, but not all, of the offensive struggles can also be attributed to the fact that the Eagles offensive line suffered a number of injuries. While Jeremy Maclin had a great year, Riley Cooper was terrible, and DeSean Jackson was gone.
The best way for the Eagles to fix their offense is to stop turning the ball over. The Eagles lead the NFL in turnovers since 2011. 94 of those 130 turnovers were from the quarterback position. Either the Eagles need to make a quarterback change (could be unlikely considering lack of quality replacements) or they will need Foles to somehow be more careful moving forward. The Eagles best shot at masking Foles' flaws is relying on an elite rushing attack again like they did in 2013.
|3rd Down Pct||37.93%||13||40.26%||24||-2.33%|
|4th Down Pct||25.00%||5||40.00%||12t||-15.00%|
|Goal to Go Pct||70.00%||16||66.67%||11||3.33%|
The Eagles defense made some improvements in Kelly's second year. The sack numbers went way up due to a Pro Bowl year from Connor Barwin and good production from bench players like Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. The team was also better at getting stops on third and fourth down.
All areas were far from improved, however. The Eagles still gave up too many passing yards. While the front seven really stepped up and took a step foward, the Eagles secondary was an obvious weakness yet again. Philadelphia badly needs to upgrade the talent in their secondary, aside from Malcolm Jenkins.
SPECIAL TEAMS (FOR)
|Punt Return Avg||13||3||6.6||27||6.4|
|Kickoff Return Avg||27.3||5||21.4||26||5.9|
|Field Goals Made||88.89%||7t||82.00%||22||6.89%|
The Eagles' return units took a huge step forward. Acquiring Darren Sproles really helped the punt return game. The kick return game excelled due to great blocking and the addition of Josh Huff.
Cody Parkey was obviously was better than Alex Henery when it came to kicking field goals.
SPECIAL TEAMS (AGAINST)
|Punt Return Avg||8.2||13||8||11||0.2|
|Kickoff Return Avg||22.8||12||23.6||19||-0.8|
The Eagles were very slightly worse at covering punts but they improved their kick coverage.
FO shows that the Eagles offense took a step back from being elite to merely average instead. Philadelphia's defense went from being bad to surprisingly above average. More nuanced: the pass defense still wasn't good but the run defense was great. Special teams went from being bad to being elite.
PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS
PFF notes how Philadelphia's offense wasn't as a good as it was in 2013. They don't necessarily blame it on the blocking, however. While PFF's pass coverage grade seems generously high, the pass rush and run defense grades seem about right. The improvement on special teams is also no surprise.