Five Eagles Numbers That Matter

Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham.As we look ahead to the final 10 games, here are five Eagles numbers that matter:

1 – Number of passes Matthew Stafford completed to Calvin Johnson when Nnamdi Asomugha was on the wide receiver. We’ve covered pretty much every angle of that game, but there actually is a positive spin here. Asomugha played perhaps his best game as an Eagle. While on Johnson, he was targeted six times and allowed just one completion for 37 yards. Asomugha also had an interception and drew a pass interference call. You could make the case that one other completion (a 16-yarder) was on him too, but Stafford fit the ball in between Asomugha and Kurt Coleman.

The point is that if the Eagles are going to salvage their season, it’s looking like they’re going to have to do it with the defense leading the way. This secondary has shown it has the ability to be one of the best units in the league – specifically because of Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 52.7 percent of their passes against the Eagles. That’s the top mark in the league. And they’re averaging just 6.2 yards per attempt, tied for third-best. Forget Asomugha’s post-game comments for a second. If he can play the final 10 games at the level he played against the Lions, this defense has a chance to be really good the rest of the way.

1.3 – LeSean McCoy’s yards-per-carry on runs to the left sideline. We’ve discussed at length how the loss of Jason Peters has hurt the Eagles in pass protection, but there’s no overstating his importance in the run game. McCoy has 12 carries for 15 yards to the left sideline so far. Last year, he had 65 carries for 336 yards (5.2 YPC) on those runs. Overall, he’s had the most success running right (58 carries for 279 yards – 4.8 YPC). On all other runs, he’s averaging 3.4 YPC (53 carries for 180 yards). The big runs are down too. Last year, McCoy averaged one run of 20+ yards every 19.5 carries. This year, it’s one every 27.8 carries.

92.3DeSean Jackson’s catch rate on targets outside the numbers that are less than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. There’s a lot to digest there, so let me clarify. Michael Vick is 12-for-13 to Jackson on these passes, according to Pro Football Focus. We’re talking about the outs and the comeback routes near the sidelines. These are high-percentage passes that the offense needs to go to all game long. Every week with the All-22, we show how defenses are terrified of Jackson getting behind them. Sometimes they take the deep passes away, sometimes protection breaks down, and sometimes Vick is off-target with his throws. But on the passes described here, Vick and Jackson can pretty much play pitch-and-catch all day long. These routes help against the blitz too. And remember, because these are near the sidelines, Jackson is not getting crushed after the catch. He’ll either take a normal hit or be able to run out of bounds. If I’m Marty Mornhinweg, I’m going to Jackson on these passes over and over and over again until the defense adjusts.

31.8 -Brandon Graham’s pressure percentage. Put simply, when Graham’s been given the opportunity to rush the passer, he’s notching either a sack or a hurry 31.8 percent of the time. No other defensive lineman is higher than 14.1 percent. Graham has 13 hurries and half a sack in 44 pass-rushing chances.

“Right now, he’s rushing at a better percentage than anybody,” defensive-line coach Jim Washburn told the Daily News before the Lions game. “He’s done it 3 weeks in a row. He’s a guy I want to get more reps.”

But Graham played just 24.4 percent of the defensive snaps against the Lions. Derek Landri and Cedric Thornton have combined for just five hurries in the last four games. It’s time to get Graham on the field more in nickel situations, even if that means having him rush from the inside.

22.9 – The percentage of Eagles’ offensive drives that have ended in turnovers, according to Football Outsiders. That’s second-worst in the league to only the Kansas City Chiefs (28.8). And it’s worse than last year when the Eagles turned it over 18.2 percent of the time. From 2007-2011, there was not a single NFL team that gave the ball away at the rate the Eagles are giving it away this year.

I mean, think about that number for a second. That’s a turnover every 4.4 possessions. Forget about every other problem this team has right now. It is simply impossible to win with any kind of consistency when you make that many mistakes on offense.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.