Well, this hasn't gone as expected, has it? The Eagles' offense looks horrendous through four games, and even though the defense is a bright spot, they are getting worn down after playing upwards of thirty-five minutes per contest. Injuries are starting to settle in, and the team can't even beat Kirk Cousins.
And yet, they are still a game out of first place in an awful NFC East. I don't think the Eagles will be a good team this season, but that doesn't mean they can't be a playoff team, a la the 2011 Seahawks. All in all, another perspective might help really figure the Eagles out. Luckily, Crunching the Numbers is back to mathematically assess each team.
A few things before diving in. First off, if you are new to the site, check out this hub to get caught up on the formula I use to grade each team. Secondly, each number associated with each team is an index number, meaning that they only have significance when compared to each other. In other words, the only reason a number is "good" is simply because it is higher than the others, and vice versa. And finally, over the years I have toyed around with how this column is presented, with mixed results. This year, I will be using a format where I will present the rankings, explain why the Eagles are ranked where they are, and take a look at next week's opponent. At the end I will have a "notes" section that will contain interesting data I came across to be read at your convenience. I will say that if end up asking yourself, "Why is Team X ranked so high/so low?" I will probably offer an explanation in the notes section, so check that out before flying to the comments.
Oh, and one more thing: all data was taken from Team Rankings and calculated using Microsoft Excel 2010. Okay, we all good? Good. Let's move on to the rankings!
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 4
|6||New York Jets||31.739|
|9||New York Giants||20.277|
Why the Eagles are 19th
There are a multitude of reasons why Philadelphia finds itself middling just above twenty, but the majority of the blame falls (unsurprisingly) on the offense. Sam Bradford has a passer rating of 82.2, which is over ten points lower than the league average. Meanwhile, their rushing attempts per game is four below league average and their rushing percentage is five percent below average. They have been above average in pass protection - 1.8 sacks per game against a league average of 2.2 - but with all the injuries to the offensive line it remains to be seen how long that lasts.
The defense is a different story. They are playing very well, and their passer rating allowed (84.4) is eighth in the league and almost six points below the league average. In fact, their only real weakness right now is the pass rush, which is only averaging 1.5 sacks per game against a league average of about 2.2. The silver lining (if there is one) is that the team can make a quick turnaround in a weak division if the offense can stop getting in its own way and help the defense from being gassed midway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence that will happen anytime soon.
Week 5 Reconnaissance: New Orleans Saints
Boy, if there was ever an opportunity for the Eagles to right the ship, it's this week's opponent. The Saints' defense is in shambles right now, with their only quasi-respectable metric being their 1.8 sacks per game. Quarterbacks are putting on clinics against their secondary, posting an absurd average passer rating of 116.3, easily the worst in the league. For comparison, the Redskins are allowing a passer rating of 102.3, and Sam Bradford had a coming-out party against them (kind of). With the 14% difference in passer rating allowed, the stage is set for Bradford to have a rating around 140, so if he doesn't come out firing on all cylinders Sunday we might never see consistency from him this season.
Against the run, opponents are pounding the rock over half the game against the Saints, which is most likely because they've been defending leads. This is the textbook definition of a bad team right now - even more so than the Eagles - so it will be a good litmus test of their potential compentency, or lack thereof. As a bonus, the Saints are also deep in the negative turnover differential (-0.8 per game); this should also work in the Eagles' favor, with "should" being the operative word there.
The Jets are ranked sixth due to their league-leading allowed passer rating of 62.3 and a defense that is only giving up 13.8 points per game... New England slips to fifth because they don't run the ball that much, but this is probably because of Tom Brady's ongoing middle finger tour... The Giants get a nod over Dallas because they are the only NFC East team with a positive score differential... Arizona edges out Green Bay for the top spot because of their average scoring of 37 points per game... Andy Dalton has a passer rating of 123, second only to Aaron Rodgers' 125.9, which helps bump his team up to third... Carolina is also helped out in the rankings by their shut-down secondary, which is allowing a passer rating of 64.1... Seattle's "Legion of Boom" is actually doing worse than the league average allowed passer rating of 92 by almost a full six points... In a true testament to the "passing league" era of the NFL, the average passer rating around the league is 92.3.
Questions? Concerns? Sarcastic remarks? Let it out in the comments below!