Wake-Up Call: Three Numbers That Matter

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Here are three Eagles numbers that matter as we look ahead to Week 6.

0 – The number of catches Victor Cruz had while Brandon Boykin was covering him on Sunday. That’s according to Jimmy Kempksi of Philly.com, who charted the plays. Boykin was called for one pass interference penalty, but also came up with an impressive interception.

According to Pro Football Focus, in the last three weeks, Boykin has been targeted 11 times and given up just four catches for 37 yards. That includes matchups against Cruz and Wes Welker, two of the premiere slot receivers in the NFL.

Asked if he’s thought about expanding Boykin’s role, Chip Kelly said: “No, I think he’s doing a really good job in nickel.  We’re in nickel enough that I look at Brandon as a starter, so I think it’s really difficult. If we say, ‘Hey, we’re going to flip Brandon out and go make him play outside’ then who is going to play nickel?”

We’ve written at length in this space about how Boykin is being used, and it looks like his role isn’t going to change dramatically right now. After rushing the passer 17 times in the previous two weeks, he did so four times against the Giants, per PFF. Boykin is playing at a high level right now.

30 – The number of pass plays of 20+ yards the Eagles have produced through the first five games. That’s tops in the league, and it’s not even close. No other team has more than 23.

The run game is still the foundation of this offense, but Kelly has been able to scheme ways to hit on big plays downfield. DeSean Jackson is second in the NFL with 11 catches of 20+ yards. Jason Avant and Brent Celek have five apiece. And Zach Ertz has four. That’s the same number as guys like Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald.

The big-play numbers are impressive, especially when you consider the Eagles are getting very little production from Riley Cooper. Kelly believes there’s still a lot of untapped potential with this offense, regardless of who the QB is.

“I think we’re still inconsistent,” he said. “I think Nick [Foles] was inconsistent at times where we could have delivered the ball. We should have had more plays. I think every game so far we’ve still left… even though we’ve been productive, we’ve still left a lot of yardage on the field.”

.211 – The winning percentage of the Eagles’ next four opponents. The Birds travel to Tampa (0-4) this weekend. They then return home for games against the Cowboys (2-3) and Giants (0-5). And finally, it’s a trip to Oakland to take on the Raiders (2-3). The combined record of those four teams: 4-15.

No one’s expecting the Eagles to go to the Super Bowl after one win over the lowly Giants. But they have a chance over this next stretch to show they belong in the “mediocre” group going into November. Mediocre this season probably leads to meaningful games in December and perhaps even a playoff berth.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offense.

Kelly left the door open for Foles, writes T-Mac.

Michael Vick is expected to miss this weekend’s game.

A closer look at snap counts vs. the Giants.

Jackson breaks back out, writes McManus.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News has some interesting numbers on the Eagles’ blitz vs. Eli Manning:

The Eagles’ blitz wasn’t very effective in their three losses to the Chargers, Chiefs and Broncos. Philip Rivers, Alex Smith and Peyton Manning combined for a 123.6 passer rating and a 77.3 completion percentage when the Eagles blitzed.But they had a lot better luck Sunday against Peyton’s kid brother Eli. The Eagles blitzed Manning on 24 of his 53 drop-backs. Manning completed just 8 of 24 passes for 98 yards and two interceptions against the blitz.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com chimes in on the quarterback situation:

Vick won the job this summer, but that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to keep the job. Foles finished 2nd in the QB competition, but that doesn’t mean he can’t steal the job away from Vick. Foles also could lose his spot to Matt Barkley. You judge players on how they play. You don’t ignore track records and what happened previously that year, but you try to stay in the moment as best you can. That’s fair to all players involved and also keeps you from blindly sticking by someone that is struggling at that moment.

COMING UP

We’ll be down at NovaCare for practice and will hear from the coordinators.

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