Last week, we reviewed some of the sneaky concerns about the 2016 Eagles. This week, ESPN posted a series authored by Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders about the sneaky strengths of each NFL team. How nice of him to look on the bright side. Here's what was written about the Eagles' offense (via In$ider).
The Eagles converted a league-leading 84 percent of runs in key short-yardage situations, defined as 1-2 yards to go on third down, on fourth down, or at the goal line. It was the second straight year the Eagles ranked No. 1 in this stat.
For as ineffective as Chip Kelly's offense ended up being at times, it remained successful in this one area. Oddly enough, one of the Eagles' best players in this category was one of their worst offensive players last season: DeMarco Murray. He went 15 for 15 on third/fourth and short situations last year.
Philadelphia's offense will obviously be changing now that Kelly is gone and Doug Pederson is running the show. If Kansas City's offense is any indication, expect the Eagles to decline in this area. The Chiefs ranked 16th in converting short yardage situations last year. Also worth noting: presumed starting running back Ryan Mathews has converted 26 out of 37 (70.3%) of his third/fourth and short attempts during his career.
Switching to the other side of the ball, here's what was written about the Eagles' defense (via In$ider).
The Eagles were excellent at defending screens, compiling a minus-45.3 percent DVOA against running back screens and a minus-45.8 percent DVOA against wide receiver and tight end screens. Overall, Philly's minus-27.1 percent DVOA on passes behind the line of scrimmage ranked third in the league.
Sure, the Eagles couldn't defend passes that actually traveled down the field very well, but hey, at least they could stop the ones behind the line of scrimmage! Now if only they could find a way to play against Sam Bradford more often ...
Jokes aside, this "strength" of the Eagles came under the team's 3-4 two-gap defense. It remains to be seen how things change with Jim Schwartz bringing his 4-3 defense to town. There's reason to be optimistic about Schwartz building a strong unit.
It'll be interesting to see how the Eagles' biggest strengths and weaknesses change during the Pederson era.