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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  • Token

    My weekly playing Boykin 50% of the time is Fing ridiculous post. Especially when Cary freakin Williams is the guy starting over him. Ugh.

    • Richard Colton

      Depends on how we’re getting him over 50%. I love the idea of having a guy with his instincts and playmaking ability on the field more, but I don’t see him consistently covering receivers on the outside. He’s too good in the slot.

      • Token

        Why do you feel like that tho? He was always a outside corner until getting to the NFL. I think he has the skillset to do it. Instincts are instincts. Theres plenty of outside corners near his size that probably cant jump as well as he can. And its not like this scheme presses that often anyway, so size means even less.

        I just want the guy that can cover another guy better getting more playing time. Boykin is without question a better cover corner than Cary Williams has ever been IMO.

        He will play outside at some point. I just feel at this point he may have to get out of Philly to do it.

        • peteike

          hope he doesnt have to leave to do it. I agree, no reason not to let him up his game on the outside. Maybe they can get depth in the slot through FA or draft to allow that to happen.

          • Richard Colton

            It’s the Al Harris situation, minus the pass interference penalties and dreadlocks

          • MoreRecentTimes

            Difference is the guys ahead of Harris were better than him. Not so with Boykin.

          • Richard Colton

            If Boykin had another three inches, I’d agree. I know what Howie and Chip like, and it’s not a defensive backfield filled with exceptions.

          • NickS1

            Well, when in base defense, that defensive backfield has everything else they want except talent.

          • Richard Colton

            They’re serviceable. You aren’t going to hear me complain if they fall in love and take a CB high in the draft.

          • GEAGLE

            Yup, spot on,…our personal preferences are pointless. Trying to view things the way our coaches do is all that really matters.,,I’m a defensive nut..of course I would love to add big Mamouth FA NT’s…but that’s just not how our coaches view it, so it’s foolish for me to spend every day talking about something unrealistic..

            I doubt our coaches have any intention of moving Boykin anywhere.

          • anon

            You make good points here. That’s sort of the problem with having OK guys is that it never really makes sense (financially) to pay a premium to get a marquee name. Luckily we’re so terrible at safety that i think it makes sense to pay someone, but you’re sort of stuck in no – mans land hoping to kill it in the draft.

          • Tom W

            Interesting point … think it highlights the desire/need to hit on your studs in the draft — and moreover that a team like the eagles following the philosophy of studs in draft and holes in free agency would do everything under the sun to draft well (go overboard on personnel dept – which eagles do) and acquire more picks.

            Jeremiah and other saying deepest draft pool of players in 30 yrs w all the underclassmen. That’s lifer scouts saying that not me. If birds aren’t blown away w the value of the player at 22 (say aside from evans or barr falling to them), then it would behoove them to trade down w say a qb needy team (browns/vikes/texans/jets/jags/cards maybe/raiders/titans) who don’t get bortles teddy or johnny in top 10 of draft but want to secure Derek Carr or late riser like McCarron or Garoppolo OR to trade w an otackle needy team (there is alot) who wants the last good otackle after Robinson, Lewan, Matthews, Martin, Cyrus are gone. Maybe someone wants to land Moses or Richardson. Premium positions teams covet every year — qbs and ot — and overvalue. Could probably throw corner in there if Dennard or Gilbert is still there too. Get another third and fifth and draft another potential starter or use it to climb into the second and have 3 2s and take a edge rusher (attaboy/marcus smith) wr (shitload) safety (buchanon) ilb (cjones/vannoy). 3 of those and Im whistling dixie.

          • Token

            Thats too bad. Talent wins over size.

            I think we will regret letting Boykin go somewhere else to start.

            O well, guess we should enjoy the next two years we have him. Then maybe we can bring in another great guy with size like Cary Williams…………………………………………………

          • Richard Colton

            I don’t disagree. Like I said – I’d like to see him on the field more. It’s just like with the Oline. I hated the idea of taking an outstanding guard and moving him to RT.

          • Clamdigger

            He out-jumped Jacoby Jones in the game against the Ravens last year. Out-jumped might be an understatement. He looked more like Prince floating at the rim.

          • Richard Colton

            Game…blouses

        • Richard Colton

          Height for one. Yeah, he’s a ballhawk. But he’s at a disadvantage fighting Mike Evans in the end zone at Giants Stadium next year. Plus, I hate weakening one position to make another stronger.

          • Token

            I dont like this thought process. Why is it weakening anything? You would have to find another slot guy. You normally dont draft slot corners. You draft good corners who start in the slot for a year or two sometimes before moving outside. If they guy proves to not be too great, he stays in there. Like Hanson did for years.

            Boykin isnt that player. Hes good. Good enough to play the majority of snaps for a team. Its either gonna be us or some other team. Id much rather it be us. I have no attachment to Cary Williams.

            And Boykin seemed to do pretty well when facing Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant some this season. So I dont buy that. The league isnt filled with 6’3 corners like some people think.

          • Clamdigger

            They should have him outside in base and inside in nickel situations. Good slot corners are almost impossible to find and you don’t want to weaken that position just for the sake of having Boykin outside. Outside CB’s are a lot easier to find in the draft. You draft one, let him learn behind Fletcher and Boykin and then he can come in on nickel downs where Boykin moves back inside.

            Depending on Williams’/Fletcher’s situation at that point.

          • Richard Colton

            I don’t hate it. It’s just a different skill set. We were fortunate across the board with injuries last year. Say Fletcher had been out for 5 games? Think we would have seen Boykin as a starting CB in base over Roc Carmichelle? I do. Just not sure he’d be as effective there, and I don’t think the coaches see him in that role.

        • anon

          Wes Welker is such a great receiver he should play outside! Sounds silly right?

          • Token

            Yea, thats the same thing alright. Good job.

          • Clamdigger

            Welker moves all around the field, so I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

    • Tom W

      DIdn’t someone bring up than Lebeau in pitt did the same thing w young corners and later moved them outside after they excelled at slot corner?? or am i smoking crack? Maybe its just a matter of time

  • peteike

    anyone think Justin Hunter of the Titans is worth a shot to bring in on the cheap as the big WR everyone wants. Even if he doesnt pan out maybe could be worth it as 4th WR option. Drops a lot of passes is knock. Maybe he can do well in a CK system but that could be said about any new O player. I guess hes a Benn clone or less of one for that matter.

    • anon

      no one even knows if benn is good.

    • MoreRecentTimes

      He’s a 2nd yr player, and not eligible for FA till 2016 most likely. Kenny Britt might be a guy who fits your description, but a total gamble for a host of reasons. Doubtful at best. I think you just resign Cooper and keep it moving.

      • peteike

        whoa, I swear I just watched on TV yesterday that he was a FA? Never bothered to research it, assumed what I saw was correct, guess not. Never mind.

        • aub32

          Saw that same bit on ESPN. Have to be careful when watching the world wide leader in sports.

          • peteike

            ok so Im not crazy. They showed his highlights and everything on NFL live with Clayton discussing him as option. Unless they were talking about his need to step up if/when Britt leaves.

          • aub32

            Yea they were talking about guys who could make a splash and be surprises. They grouped him with guys like Britt and Holmes. So I was confused too, especially since they were also talking about Gordon. I never really know if they all know the new rules and just like to throw out names that fans will recognize and get excited about.

    • GEAGLE

      Huh?,how the hell would we get Justin Hunter?

  • MoreRecentTimes

    That big play differential is a huge stat in the context of the safety discussion. Righ now we’re middle of the pack preventing big plays. How much does the Eagles brass feel secondary play is what held them back, and how much of that falls on the pass rush? PFF actually ranks the Birds amongs the best 3-4 LINES at pressuring and hurrying passers, even tho they only managed 11 sacks as a unit. The linebackers were a different story, grading out in the middle of 3-4 corps with the same 11 sack total as a group. And 8 of those are Trent’s. Either way, its a far cry from the days of the wide 9. Safety is the obvious upgrade, but I really hope they find somebody to push Logan, and create blocking problems for the other team.

  • GEAGLE

    We need depth additions at practically every position. ideally you fill those spots with young players who can be servicable backups while ATleast having some type of potential to develop into eventual starters two, three years down the line. THats the ideal scenario, problem is you only have a certain amount of draft picks, which means you are going to have to sign some NOT SO SEXY, NON NAME Brand players, and the hope is that we don’t go into the season with too many waste of space players like Curtis marsh.. What I mean by waste of space player:
    ..
    1) someone who isn’t a ST Star (replaceable ST guy)

    2) a backup who you would be scared to death to ever have on the field. Injuries happen, A guy like Barbre can come into the game and be servicable! a guy like marsh you would be scared to death to ever have to play

    3) A young player with NO eventual starting potential like Roc carmicheal

    if you are all 3 of those things you are a waste of space player. The less of those we have the better our team will be. If you ARENT a ST Star, then you have to be either A) a servicable player we can count on in an emergency like Barbre
    B) a young player who still has raw potential for us to possibly mold into a good player! like Bamiro
    ….
    Wolff and Chung are the only safeties currently under contract. We need ATleast 3 safeties, 4 if we want to cut Chung. We ARENT signing 3 top FA safeties, and we aren’t drafting 3 safeties…so if we want to have a realistic offseason projection conversation, then we can’t expect to replace Colt Anderson’s roster spot, with Calvin Pryor or a top FA signing….Realistically a guy like Colt will ideally be replaced with a Corey Graham type who most likely will never be a starter or a big name,,..but can be thrown into a game if need be, who is a probowl caliber ST addition, who provides depth at multiple positions while also probably having a small role in sub packages…so when I talk about adding a C list player like him, I don’t need blowhards telling me he can never be a starting safety or a starting CB, because that’s not the type of addition he is intended to be, and even if he isn’t a quality sexy name, he isn’t a waste of space roster addition…actually for a guy who never gets to start full time, an played on a limited basis, he comes up with a decent amount of turnovers..and this doesn’t even have to be about Corey Graham..the point is, we have to expect a few of those small name additions…

    Some defensive names to keep an eye on for us:
    1) Jabaal Sheard. We would have to trade a 5th round pick to the browns for him. And NO veteran Pass rushers will be added unless we get out of Cole or Graham’s contract. He is a young Worlids type 6’3 265 basically Cole sized.

    2) Micheal Johnson. He will be on our list, we will talk to his agent but I would consider this a serious LONGSHOT at this point, unless BG is traded soon or flat out cut.

    3) Everson Griffin. 6’3 270′ 25 years old (Worlids/Sheard type). Rumor has it he is looking to sign a 2-3 year deal so he can cash in on one final contract when he is 28-29years old(Rotoworld). I suggest eagles fans keep an eye on this kid(I believe he could be a realistic addition whom we have high on our list)

    Malcom Jenkins. I’m actually not a fan of this kid, but stylistically I think he will apeal to us, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t one of the higher names on our safety list. If you sign this kid, you would expect him to start, so Wolff would most likely compete with a draft pick for the other spot..

    Corey Graham..this would be a cheap two year deal, not someone you count on starting or playing a significant role, but he is someone who you will want to give some snaps to in sub packages. major upgrade to Colt Anderson and Coleman. if he was on our team this past year, we would have never seen Roc on defense, and with Chung struggling, he probably would have spent time at safety for us.. This isn’t a player to get excited about, but it’s a player I’m personally expecting to have a high probability of becoming an eagles depth addition
    ….
    Next I want to take a look at the DL FA, but this isn’t going to be an addition that people like. The ONLY. Way I see us adding a Quality FA Dlinemen who will be a part of our rotation the next 3 years is if they trade away Vinny Curry, with Vinny here, there is simply no room to sign a DL who you have to guarentee a roster spot to. The Dlinemen we sign will be a cheap veterans minimum type who we can cut at the end of camp, if we end up drafting a DL and Kruger is ready to make the roster. ..so the FA DL we sign is going to piss a lot of fans off lol..It’s going to be a Bust type coming off his rookie deal like Terrence Cody OR it will be another older Soap type

    • SunShine

      I upped this just for pure content..Impeccable

      • GEAGLE

        Thank you sir

  • PaoliBulldog

    Boykin has got to have the highest ratio of passes defensed to targets in the NFL.

    Apropos of Byrd’s salary, even if Boykin is “just” a slot corner, the Eagles would be insane to make a lowball offer on that account.

  • GEAGLE

    Anyone worried that all the teams who made it deep into the playoffs use fullbacks?
    ..,
    I already talked about how fullbacks are usually key ST contributors, but I wonder if our offense is at a disadvantage not ever using a FB? Then again, I’m sure James Casey’s role will expand next year, maybe that includes some lead blocking?

    • anon

      That’s basically what JC has always been. The whole point of the RO is to obviate the need for that lead blocker, we very rarely power run. I think with Foles QB’ing we’ll see JC do more lead blocking.

      • GEAGLE

        ….

    • OldDocRoss

      Not massively. I think there were a bunch of different reasons why the teams that went deep in the playoffs made it that had nothing to do with them using a FB.

      Our offense wasn’t a major issue last year and has the potential to get better if guys like Foles and Ertz continue to grow (plus we should see an upgrade at WR). Besides, Casey’s right there and I’ve got enough faith in Kelly that if he thinks he needs to expand his role he’ll find a way to do it without hurting other areas of the O.

    • SunShine

      Considering that our passing and rushing attack thrived without having a FB? No I’m not.

  • GEAGLE

    Anyone know when is the time frame when most of the cap casualties are made? We are already Seeing some cap casualties like the saints players..but when is it time for cap casualties to intensify? NFL network is saying guys like Polamolu, Siggs and Wilfork are probably getting cut….we don’t have much room for older veterans, but if we are really planing on taking a shot at a Super Bowl these next two years while we pay our QB chump change, signing a guy like Suggs to a two year deal may not be the worst idea, but for that to happen, we would have to get out of Cole or BGscontract..If we can get a veteran who is a real pass rush OLB to be ok with time sharing with a rookie these next two years while we take a run at a Lombardi trophy, then I wouldn’t mind adding someone like Suggs or Woodley…Julius peppers is getting cut. Wonder how much he has left in the tank and how much crazy money his names Will command
    ..
    I think Momday is when teams can start designating the franchise tag. Can anyone confirm or deny that with any certainty?

    • 76mustang

      Mark your calendar

      From Rich Cimini at ESPN

      February 17 — Teams can begin applying the franchise tag to players.

      February 19-25 — Scouting combine in Indianapolis.

      March 3 — The final day to use the franchise tag.

      March 8-11 — Teams can begin negotiations with players who will be unrestricted free agents. Qualifying offers to restricted free agents are made in this window.

      March 11 — Free agency begins at 4 p.m. Teams may begin signing players and trading players. Teams also must be under the salary cap.

      March 23-26 — Annual league meetings in Orlando, Fla.

      April 7 — Teams with a new head coach may begin offseason workout programs.

      April 21 — Teams with returning coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

      May 8-10 — NFL draft.

      • GEAGLE

        Thank you kind sir

  • Tom W

    So if toxic differential is one of the strongest indicators of success in the nfl and Chip is clearly focused on being strong in that department —- I don’t see how you can’t look at Jairius Byrd as the key to the castle when trying to strengthen your team’s ability to stop big plays and force turnovers. Its blatantly clear he makes us so much better at the most important facet of the game (stopping big plays and creating turnovers). He is a ballhawk and deep cover guru.

    Byrd has had more ints and passed defended than any other safety since he came into the league. His numbers dwarf most corners as well.

    He is also the best deep cover safety in the nfl — meaning he limits the other team’s ability to connect on a big play (over 20 yds) through the deep ball.

    “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.”

    If the above is true to Chip’s heart — Howie needs to make a fair to strong offer to land Byrd. I see Ward as not 1b to Byrd’s 1a but a notch lower and more of a in-the-box strong safety that we don’t need.

    Spotrac predicts Byrd gets 5 for 45 mil w 19 guaranteed.

    http://www.spotrac.com/premium/research/nfl/contract-forecast-jairus-byrd-v2-407/

    I think its closer to 5 for 42 w 25 mil guaranteed. I can live w that and so can the eagles. Front load the deal w 11 mil signing bonus is year one and little salary, followed my 7 mil a year in salary years 2-4 … renegotiate in year 5 to lower his 10 mil cap number.

    If he rejects those numbers and gets overpaid by the raiders, etc. then so be it. Take a look at Delmas and his knees or Clemons and look to grab Buchanon in the 3d round.

  • Weapon Y

    Boykin isn’t just good. I’m convinced he’s one of the five best cornerbacks in the NFL. The stats back me up on this. I get that he’s a good slot corner, but I’d be shocked if he was a bad outside corner. The dude’s ball skills are so good. Get that man on the field at all times. Davis can be extremely frustrating for not using his resources to their full potential.

  • Rick H

    I disagree with people forth the idea that Boykin can’t play outside! A good player is a good player is a good player! I know that height is the talk of the off season because of the Seahawks but that is misleading. Boykin would a significant improvement from Williams period!
    Boykin is a player. How about the Eagles go get another really good slot guy in the draft or a bargain for an older Vet in free agency? Sounds like an excellent idea to me!

    Just watching Williams make that weak attempt on the playoff Saints TD pass was finally enough for me. Either you want to hit and tackle or you don’t. Williams is a part time tackler and it hurts the Eagles.

    • SunShine

      I agree…That tackle was weak but that doesn’t mean he is a part-time tackle. You are overlooking all the other solid tackles he made. Whether you like it or not, Williams is an upgrade over the crap-mess of Nnamdi and DRC. He isn’t suppose to be a long term option but I am okay with him now

      Boykin is an ingenious player for a guy his size but having him outside will expose his deficiencies. Don’t change anything when you got something good going on. The slot cb position is just as important as the outside in today’s football

      • Rick H

        I will give you 2 examples of guys that had great seasons last year that are not big. They are also free agents!
        Verner from the Titans at 5’10” 186 lbs and Mummerlyn from the Panthers at 5’8” 187lbs finishing his season as the 11th best cornerback per pff.

        • SunShine

          If you move him, than the Slot cb position becomes a need again. It is easier finding a solid outside Cb than it is finding a slot cb. Is it worth playing Russian roulette on that?

          • Rick H

            Valid point but we need to bring in more CB talent. If the Eagles can find a slot guy which I think might be easier then an outside CB then I say bring him in while bringing really good CB’s from the draft. Either way we need to upgrade the secondary. I was impressed that Fletcher played pretty well last season but he has to stay healthy.
            Williams again I will state he showed up some games and not other especially not doing well in the playoff game.
            Bottom line on this new regime/front office for me will be when I see the Eagles draft quality players (best player available) at positions they are already strong at the particular position. That to me is a statement that the team will be or eventually (in the short term) or is a serious title contender.