Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You know the drill. Here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

48 – That’s the Eagles’ big-play differential in 2013. STATS, Inc. describes big plays as rushes that go for more than 10 yards and passes that go for more than 25 yards. The Eagles finished with a +48 differential, tops in the league. On offense, they had 122 big plays, first in the NFL. Perhaps most impressive was the Eagles’ balance. Their 74 big run plays were first; and so were there 48 big pass plays.

Defensively, the Eagles allowed 74 big plays, which ranked 14th.

Here are the eight teams with the best big-play differentials: the Eagles (+48), Seahawks (+46), 49ers (+30), Jets (+17), Broncos (+17), Bengals (+15), Panthers (+14) and Saints (+12). You may notice that seven of those eight teams made the playoffs, and all eight finished .500 or better.

One more number: +60. That’s the Eagles’ toxic differential. It takes into account both turnovers and explosive plays. The Seahawks led the league at +66, and the Birds were second at +60. No other team was better than a +42. The top eight teams in this category (Seahawks, Eagles, 49ers, Panthers, Broncos, Bengals, Chiefs and Saints) all made the postseason. In 2012, the Eagles were a -35 (28th in the league).

Big plays and turnovers – two things every NFL coach focuses on. Chip Kelly and his staff will continue to emphasize both once the offseason program begins in April.

23 – The number of combined interceptions/passes defensed by Brandon Boykin last season. That ranked sixth in the NFL. As the Birds 24/7 audience knows by now, that’s even more impressive considering Boykin played only 51.6 percent of the Eagles’ snaps.

I’m curious to see if Boykin’s role changes in 2013. Billy Davis said consistently last year that he wanted Boykin to focus on being the nickel corner. That’s why he didn’t get much of a shot on the outside. But what about in Year 3? If Davis is serious about playing his best 11, perhaps he can find a way to get Boykin on the field more.

The other factor to keep in mind is Boykin’s contract. He’s signed through 2015, but outside corners get paid more than nickel corners. Boykin has been a great teammate and was a big-time contributor on special teams last year. But like any competitor, he wants to play, and he wants to be on the field more. Will Kelly and Davis give him that opportunity? And if not, how will it sit with Boykin?

Something to keep an eye on next summer.

3.4 – The percentage of passes dropped by Eagles offensive players in 2013. That was good enough for seventh-best in the league.

One player who’s taken care of his drop issues is DeSean Jackson. Per STATS, Inc., Jackson has dropped just three balls in the last two seasons on 214 targets. Earlier in his career, Jackson had a problem with drops. He had nine in 2011 alone and 21 in the three-year span from 2009 to 2011.

Meanwhile, how lucky were the Eagles with opponent drops? Not very. Teams playing against the Birds dropped just 3.6 percent of their targets, the fifth-lowest number in the league.

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