Sometimes there’s data that’s such a secret, it only leaves you with two options. Option number one: you could break into Sports Info Solutions HQ and take off with all of their data. Option number two: you could have their top talents on Bleeding Green Nation and let them spill the beans.
I can’t go back to jail, so I went with the second option. Matt Manocherian and Bryce Rossler of Sports Info Solutions were kind enough to spill the beans on a number of Philadelphia Eagles’ analytics.
Reactive play-calling or “reactive offense” as Bill Walsh would call it, involves the following:
“Defenses often develop plans to counter a team’s offensive tendencies. Accordingly, a team should include plays in its offensive attack that offset its own tendencies or to take advantage of a defense’s probable predisposition to act a certain way in particular situation.
Collectively, these special plays are commonly referred as a team’s ‘ reactive offense ‘. As the head coach, you should ensure that your team is properly prepared to react in all conventional reactive situations including:
1. A first down call after getting a first down rushing.
2. A first down call after getting a first down passing.
3. A first down call after the completion of an explosive pass.
4. A first down call after an explosive run.
5. A first down call after a positive penalty ( i.e. 1ST and 5 ).
6. A second down call after a sack.
7. The next first down call to start a series after your team lost the ball on a fumble or interception.
8. A first down call to start a series after your opponent’s loss of possession due to a turn over.
That last point, the “sudden change”, was a major focus for the Eagles last year. They were 31% over league average in choosing to pass after gaining possession via turnover (80%). On the show we posited the theory that it was a shot-taking mentality that caused this bump. In reality, it teaches a lesson about assuming. While it’s true the Eagles leaned toward the pass, it didn’t yield any explosive plays. They did, however, gain 6.13 yards per play with an excellent 58% success rate through the air in those situations.
It’s also worth noting that the Eagles’ offense only started drives after a turnover 15 times. That tied for 18th in the league, along with ranking 26th in starting field position. Those situational stats highlight a lack of “run support” (to use a baseball team) that plagued the team for the early and middle portions of the season.
Bringing the House...
Jim Schwartz isn’t known as a blitzer, but he does have a penchant for bringing heat in specific situations. While he only blitzes 9% of the time on first down, the possibilities of a heater ramp up late in downs:
2nd & Long: 17%
3rd & Short: 36%
3rd & Medium: 29%
3rd & Long: 30%
The most successful blitz was from 3rd & 4-6 yards to go, where offenses only managed a 28% success rate. Their problem came on the short and long situations, where offenses racked up a robust 70% success rate. Last summer I called his go-to “cover 0” blitz a “mixed bag” and it looks like that remains to be the case. Hopefully better health in the secondary next year shores that up.
League-wide, cover 0 has proven to be one of the better blitzes to unleash and doesn’t give up as many big plays as are feared. Perhaps that’s due to the off-coverage that also accompanies the blitz and dictates a quick pass to the offense rather than holding on to the ball and waiting for a deep route to come open. Granted, that still happens when facing more aggressive quarterbacks, as Eagles fans should know well.
Touchdown to Doug Baldwin!!! The #Eagles go Cover 0 and blitz everyone else. Man to man coverage which gives Russell Wilson a one-on-one with his corner route. Great throw to give him a chance and great adjustment by Baldwin to track the ball. #GoHawks #Seahawks #PHIvsSEA pic.twitter.com/9CLm7zH4iV— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) December 4, 2017
We get more in-depth into these topics and also discuss play-action and analytics around the league in Fireside Chats #12! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts? Check out our guide on how to listen to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!
SWEET SWEET DATA— BGN Radio (@BGN_Radio) June 26, 2019
Fireside Chats #12!@MichaelKistNFL is joined by @mattmano & @btrossler of @SportsInfo_SIS to breakdown the Eagles' "reactive offense", play-action success, blitz tendencies & more!https://t.co/IAqmfg1UKB