The last time we crunched the numbers, everything came up Eagles green. It also gave us the name Reds Weiner. So I decided to crunch the numbers again, now that the Eagles have played 10 games, to see what we see.
The Eagles rank fourth-best in the league in defensive scoring percentage; that is, the number of drives by the opposing team which end in offensive points. They allow points on just 28.3 of drives by the opponent, bested only by the Ravens, Rams, and Cardinals.
If you take a look at their opponents’ average drives, this should come as no surprise.
For one, the Eagles’ defense allows the shortest drives in the league in terms of elapsed time, at 2:19. They get opposing offenses off the field, on average, faster than any other team in the league.
The same idea goes for the amount of plays per drive by opposing teams, where the Eagles rank fourth with 5.8, and yards per drive by opposing teams, where the Eagles rank eighth with just 27.8 yards per drive. What does that sound like? A whole bunch of short drives, which would gel with the aforementioned time of possession stat.
And the Eagles allow the fifth-fewest points per drive in the league. Opposing teams score just 1.52 points per drive against the Eagles, a pretty darn solid number. If you assume teams get about 11 drives per game (the numbers run from 9.6, the Lions, to 12.5, the Cardinals, this season), that’s only 16.7 points allowed per game, which is a good place to be for any defense.
Jim Schwartz’s unit didn’t get the job done against the Seahawks, it couldn’t stop middling quarterbacks Kirk Cousins or Eli Manning with any regularity, and it still needs to be much more consistent for the Eagles to have any shot at the postseason. But the Eagles’ defense belongs in the discussion of the Top 8 or so defenses in the league because, statistically, that’s exactly the kind of defense it is.
The Eagles are on pace for 321 first downs this season, which would be their fewest first downs in a season since 2009, when they went 11-5 and reached the NFC Championship game. They picked up just 290 first downs that season.
Chip Kelly, of course, set franchise records in each of his first two seasons at the helm of the Eagles’ offense. His offense sprinted through games, convinced piling up numbers and yards at a breakneck speed was the perfect way to play football. Even in 2015, the winter of his discontent, Kelly’s team put up 337 first downs.
And yet, their three-and-out percentage is as middle-of-the-pack as it gets in the league. Of the Eagles’ 116 drives so far this season, only 24 (20.69%) have ended in three-and-outs. There aren’t any quantitative stats that I can find for the percentage of the team’s drives that have ended after two drives.
It’s actually sort of surprising that the Eagles are on pace for so few first downs. They rank fourth in the league in length of offensive drives at 2:50 per drive, and eighth in the league in number of plays per drive at 6.51. It seems, then, that they’re holding on to the ball but not doing all that much with it, considering their 201 first downs through 10 games ranks 18th in the league.
A big part of that, of course, is likely a rash of dropped passes on third downs. Just saying.
The Eagles’ second-leading wide receiver in terms of yards, Nelson Agholor, ranks 124th in the league in receiving yards with 264 yards through 10 games.
Jordan Matthews, the team’s leading receiver, is tied for 25th among all players in receiving yards. Both he and Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham have 639 yards in 10 games this season.
And then... well, then things sort of drop off in a big way.
The Eagles’ next leading pass catcher in terms of receiving yards is Zach Ertz, who ranks 102nd in the league with 337 yards, a much lower number than was expected for the tight end at this point in the season.
Ten spots behind Ertz we have Darren Sproles, who ranks 112th in the league with 304 receiving yards. He’s on pace to catch over 400 yards for the first time since 2013.
And then, 12 spots after a 31-year-old running back and 22 spots after an underperforming tight end, we find the Eagles’ No. 2 wide receiver in terms of receiving yards, Agholor, who ranks 124th in the league.
Agholor, a man who cost his team at least seven points in his last outing, who has a career catch rate below 55 percent, and who might be benched this Monday night in lieu of a former practice squad player, is the Eagles’ second-most-productive wideout this year.
Let that sink in for a moment.
And then, the next time someone asks why Carson Wentz has cooled off, or compares him to Dak Prescott, remind them who Wentz is playing with.
Because it ain’t anyone good.