Every year Football Outsiders puts out its Almanac and every year I grab myself a copy. It’s required summer reading in my opinion, and no I’m not being paid to say that. Along with the analysis within, there are studies and data in it that aren’t available to the public beforehand unless you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars to obtain and run the data yourself. There’s a more affordable option with their premium service, but you get my point.
With that in mind, I decided to talk with the person that wrote-up the Philadelphia Eagles chapter in the Almanac. That person is Derrik Klassen, who also does film work for Football Outsiders and has a great eye for the game.
If you’re unfamiliar with Football Outsiders, you may have seen “DVOA” or “Defense-adjusted Value Over Average” which calculates a team’s success based on the down-and-distance of each play during the season, then calculates how much more or less successful each team is compared to the league average. Or you may have seen my article on the Eagles’ “AGL” or “adjusted games lost” than explains some of their struggles throughout 2018 as the second-most banged up team in the league.
The point I’m making here is that they do good work and they’re a great resource to understand what’s happening with the Eagles. To further examine what they had to say about the Eagles looking back and projecting forward, Klassen came on Fireside Chats #14. Some nuggets from his chapter:
“In the Eagles’ case, injury luck was a primary cause for the swing in success... In 2018 they finished with 118.5 adjusted games lost, most in the league. The 65.0-game difference year over year was the second-largest increase in AGL behind the Jacksonville Jaguars at 66.3. Among other teams to rank in the bottom five in AGL or year-over-year difference in AGL, only the Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts made the playoffs.”
Looking to the future, Klassen was optimistic that the Eagles’ defense would shine in 2019.
“Not only do the defense’s injuries help explain why they fell from elite status last season, but they also suggest the Eagles can return to dominance come 2019. Assuming the Eagles do not suffer catastrophic injury luck again, they are poised to be a top-10 defense.”
That struck me as a take at first, but the Eagles are only a year removed from a top five DVOA finish on defense. Considering the hits the Eagles took via injury to all three levels of the defense last year, there’s plenty of reason to believe they can improve their 15th ranked DVOA defense.
Klassen also believes that we’re set to see a creative offense this year.
“Assuming Pederson has not lost his touch as a forward thinker, the Eagles’ offense is equipped to be one of the most versatile, creative units in the league. They will be able to flow between 10, 11, and 12 personnel with high-end players across the board out of all three sets, while they also can mix up their rushing attack with Howard and Sanders. So many of the skill players, particularly Ertz and Goedert, also have the flexibility to play from a number of alignments, lending to even more creativity within each personnel set.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg for all the information provided not only in the the Football Outsiders’ Almanac, but also in my discussion with Klassen on Fireside Chats #14. Listen to it 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!