clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Three Areas The Eagles Need To Improve In Order To Win

New, comments

This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

Why do I think the Eagles can win the NFC East and make a run in the playoffs in 2016? I'm the optimist, I know, and I'm the Eagles Guy, yeah, and I certainly think the talent here is better than a lot of others think, so I get all of that.

But there are also some statistical areas that can no doubt improve and, based on the historical success of the coaching staff, should change. Let's take a look.

WINNING THE GIVEAWAY GAME

This is an area in which the Eagles were among the worst teams in the league the last two seasons. They had a minus-8 turnover ratio in 2014 (a league-high 36 giveaways and 28 takeaways) to rank tied for 26th in the NFL that season. That the Eagles won 10 games that season was a testament to a dominating special teams group and an opportunistic defense. The giveaways were a disaster and the Eagles vowed to improve in that area in '15.

They did, but only marginally. The Eagles still had 31 giveaways and they had a minus-5 in the turnover ratio department. Only Dallas and Tennessee (33 each) had more giveaways.

So why is there reason for optimism? This offense is constructed more to protect the football. The offensive line is improved. Quarterback Sam Bradford now has freedom to audible out of bad calls. There is an emphasis on ball security.

Head coach Doug Pederson's three seasons as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City featured an offense that, by and large, protected the football. In 2013, Kansas City had a plus-18 in the turnover ratio and turned the ball over only 18 times and reached the playoffs. In 2014, a 9-7 season during which the Chiefs did not make the playoffs, the offense turned the football over only 17 times. Last year, Kansas City had just 15 giveaways.

SCORING MORE TOUCHDOWNS IN THE RED ZONE

Too many times in the previous three seasons the Eagles offense stalled in the red zone. The running game did not have much success in those tight areas, and the touchdown percentage inside opponents' 20-yard lines was not nearly high enough: 53.2 percent in 2013 (13th in NFL), 49.2 percent in 2014 (23rd in NFL) and 55.8 percent in 2015 (15th in NFL and bolstered by a 3-for-3 performance in the final game at New York after the head coaching change).

Whether it was the scheme or the talent or the play calling or a combination of all of the above, it wasn't good enough.

Kansas City was fifth in the NFL in touchdown percentage in the red zone in 2013 (59.7 percent), ninth in 2014 (58.3 percent) and 12th last season (57.4 percent).

A more physical, push-the-pile offensive line, a more conventional scheme that emphasizes matchups, more attention paid to protecting the football and a running game that the Eagles feel confident in despite the questions about the backfield should add up to more touchdowns in the red zone.

DEFENSIVE QUARTERBACK SACKS

Jim Schwartz will go down as one of the NFL's best additions to a coaching staff by the time 2016 is all said and done. I think he's going to have that much of an impact here (for the record, wide receivers coach Greg Lewis is going to have a huge impact on the offensive side of the ball. That's how highly I regard Lewis). And while there are a number of really important statistical categories for a defense, it's all going to start up front for the Eagles pressuring the backfield.

The Eagles at times in the previous three seasons had some good pass pressure. They tied for second in the NFL in 2014 with 49 quarterback sacks -€” just behind the Buffalo Bills, led by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who had 54 sacks.

But for the most part the Eagles didn't generate a lot of consistent pass-rush pressure and as a result the pass defense got torched. The Eagles allowed a franchise-worst 36 touchdown passes last season. That doesn't happen when a quarterback is running for his life.

The Eagles are going to bring the heat this season. Not a lot of blitzing, but the scheme that Schwartz employs with the Wide 9 alignment for the defensive ends is made to wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield.

There is a lot of talent up front for the Eagles and that, combined with the scheme, combined with an improved back end of the defense, particularly at safety with the addition of Rodney McLeod, makes for a much-improved defense from this perspective.

So those are my three statistical areas that I think will improve significantly for the Eagles this season, significantly enough to help this team contend in a real way in the NFC East.

...

By DAVE SPADARO
Eagles Insider
Subscribe to the Eagles Live Podcast
iTunes - [Click here] | Stitcher - [Click here]