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Previewing the Eagles’ 2020 season with Football Outsiders

Fireside Chats #18!

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New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

We’re less than a month away from the Philadelphia Eagles 2020 NFL season! In our continuing pursuit to get you prepared for the season, we had our yearly chat with Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders to get an outside, analytics driven view of the Eagles outlook.

The Football Outsiders Almanac is a must-buy each off-season and the 2020 version is no different. There’s a plethora of information about the NFL and each team and I grilled Schatz about there Eagles chapter on Fireside Chats #18!

Here are some of the topics we touched upon with quotes below coming from Schatz...

Optimism for the defense...

In Jim Schwartz’s first two years with the Eagles had a top 5 DVOA defense. It’s not a coincidence that the Eagles health on that side of the ball came in top 10 in the league in Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost metric. The next two years (2018, 2019) saw the Eagles rank 31st and 29th respectively, which coincided with their ranking falling to the middle of the pack.

Football Outsiders projects the Eagles defense to check in 6th this year, partially due to positive regression to the mean regarding injury luck. There’s also the factor of turnover luck...

“They were kind of low in turnovers last year so that tends to regress and get a little bit better. But overall it’s basically this is a good defense that was good last year and projects to be good this year only with a little bit better health.”

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that when he’s had a healthy unit Schwartz has shown he can produce very good results in Philadelphia.

Where the offense needs to improve...

“... the receivers need to be better... They averaged only 2.9 yards after the catch on passes thrown past the line of scrimmage, which ranked 31st in the league.”

Getting that after catch production would help get the slow starting Eagles on the scoreboard faster. They were 22nd in first half DVOA and points per game last year. That was better than 2018, but a far cry from 2017 where they put the 3rd most points on the board in the opening half.

Copycat aggression...

“In the two years since Philadelphia won the Super Bowl the whole league has started going for it on 4th down more often. But Pederson is still ahead of most teams; they ranked 4th in aggressiveness index last year... the whole league has gotten more aggressive over the last two years.”

An example of that is the Dallas Cowboys, who even with a cowardly coach like Jason Garrett, were more aggressive in 2019 than the league average over the last 20 years. Still, that was only good enough to rank 25th last year.

We dig into these topics and much more on Fireside Chats #18! 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 and subscribe to BGN and remember to buy your copy of the Football Outsiders Almanac 2020 today! FLY EAGLES FLY!