Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

From Nick Foles’ sack rate to Brandon Boykin’s tackling, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

8.26 – That’s Foles’ true sack rate, according to Football Outsiders. The Eagles’ QB ranked 30th in the league in that category. So, what is true sack rate? It is the percentage of plays where a QB is sacked, taking into account pass attempts, scrambles, intentional groundings, etc. In other words, it measures all plays initially designed for the quarterback to throw the football.


Earlier this offseason, we wrote about how Foles can still improve, even though he turned in a 29 TD/2 INT performance in 2013. One way he can get better is by taking fewer sacks. Chip Kelly hates negative plays and has said in the past that quarterbacks are mostly responsible for sacks.

But there's a little more to the story here. Foles only threw two interceptions all season. It's obviously better to take a sack than to turn the ball over. And the other factor is the Eagles liked to chuck the ball downfield in 2013. Foles averaged 9.12 yards per attempt, the best mark in the league. That success on big plays in the passing game is going to call for the quarterback to sometimes hold on to the football.

The guys over at Chip Wagon did a good breakdown of Foles, his sacks and holding on to the ball. It's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in delving more into this subject.

6 - The Eagles' rank in terms of tackling efficiency last year. Per Football Outsiders, Billy Davis' defense missed a tackle on just 5 percent of its plays in 2013. Only five teams in the NFL had lower numbers. What makes the ranking even more impressive is that the Eagles finished last and second-to-last in that category in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

Davis certainly has work to do with his defense, but it was encouraging to see the emphasis on tackling and fundamentals actually yield better results.

On an individual player basis, Brandon Boykin missed just one tackle all season. His 2.3 percent missed tackle rate was fourth-best in the league among defensive backs who totaled at least 40 tackles.

Meanwhile, Mychal Kendricks talked to McManus last week about wanting to reduce his number of missed tackles going forward. But he did actually improve in that area in his second season. In 2012, Kendricks missed 15.1 percent of his tackling attempts, the highest number among linebackers. In 2013, that number got down to 9.1 percent, which didn't rank among the bottom 12. Obviously, there's still plenty of room to improve, but Kendricks did show progress in that area.

51 - The number of broken tackles by LeSean McCoy last season, per Football Outsiders. That was second-best among running backs, behind only Seattle's Marshawn Lynch (59).

A main principle with Kelly was to play the numbers game on offense and put his playmakers in one-on-one battles they could win. Clearly, McCoy won his share. Despite defenses loading up to stop the run on a weekly basis, McCoy led the NFL in carries and touches. In the fourth quarter, he led the NFL with 441 rushing yards, according to STATS, Inc. and averaged 6.0 YPC. It was an all-time season for McCoy, and the Eagles will need more of the same out of him in 2014.

Meanwhile, as a team, the Eagles broke a tackle on 7.1 percent of their offensive plays, fourth-best in the league behind only the Seahawks, Vikings and Packers.

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  • Glenn

    Very impressive defensive turnaround headed by Davis. Now he just needs to get more pieces that fit! I wouldn’t mind seeing Boykin eventually becoming the starter on the outside as well, and moving to slot on appropriate downs. This kid can do it all.

    • myeaglescantwin

      I’m with you on getting Boykin more involved, but I do think he’d be mismatched on the outside.
      I wouldn’t mind seeing him over the top as the deep cover 1 in some packages.
      kid’s a playmaker.

      • Glenn

        I think he would do just fine on the outside. He is currently the best outside guy on the roster. He doesn’t have ideal size. But more than makes up for it with vertical, ball skills, and athleticism. You’ll see next year.

        • anon

          I doubt we’ll see next year. It will be interesting to see if we do pay Boykin as an outside CB, even though he only plays in the slot. Think that’s the only way we keep him on the roster.

          • Glenn

            i wouldn’t be too sure about that. By next year, I mean 2015. Cary Williams is scheduled to make over 8 million per next year. A big nugget for a guy who is mediocre, and you have a cheaper more talented option in Boykin. Fletcher is better and more consistent than Williams. If Boykin continues his maturity, it would seem natural to slide him to the outside, and save cap space for other places on the team. Williams is likely to be a salary cap casualty next year.

          • Eagles1018

            I agree with the earlier sentiment that Boykin can start outside and slide inside on appropriate downs. His agility and acceleration make him ideal to defend shift slot guys like Victor Cruz, Welker, Amendola etc

          • anon

            Not saying he can’t but Billy Davis won’t let him. Even when Fletcher was hurt — where was Boykin? We were watching Roc Carmicheal look TERRIBLE. No doubt coaches see that Boykin is better than Roc, but they are very particular about size.

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        • myeaglescantwin

          without extensive time on the outside, how can we say “he’s the best outside guy” ??

          I think he’s a great football player, but size is key. Especially when you factor in the fact that he isn’t one for any type of press coverage.
          i think putting him in a position where bigger outside WR’s can get physical with him would put us at a disadvantage.

          • Glenn

            I agree that he doesn’t have ideal size. But Cary Williams doesn’t have ideal speed, ball skills, and athleticism that Boykin has. But many people believe that Boykin will do well on the outside if given the opportunity. This is based on the opinion of many people who have observed numerous practices, including people like Rueben Frank, Sheil, Tim, and Mike Quick, among others. The reason I heard was that Cary Williams would not be as accepting in a secondary role, cannot play slot well at all, and would not be happy if he only played the outside on passing downs, when they slid Boykin into the slot. This will not be an issue if and when they release Williams next year.

          • myeaglescantwin

            I’ll say that I do agree that Williams isn’t long for this world.

            Who knows, he could blow our minds with an off the charts 2014. (hopefully)

          • Glenn

            I really hope that is the case. There are some plays when he looks good. But his attitude and inconsistency and skills leaves much to be desired. He is the third best corner on the team. And I will be surprised if this is not his last year, as I am sure you would be to.

  • NickS1

    I wish there was a more complete metric that could show just how awesome Shady is at making people miss. Something like “avoided tackles” which wouldn’t be inclusive to broken tackles, but then the two could be added to show just how effective a RB/WR is at not being brought down. I see the problem with this stat being a little subjective, but it could still be useful.

    • JosephR2225

      .gifs created / attempts.

    • pkatz

      # of ankles broken (or jocks juked out of) per attempt

    • Anders

      Avoided tackles is part of FO’s broken tackles, so his jukes are already counted

      • NickS1

        Didn’t even look at the defintion prior to my post, thinking it was strictly about breaking contact. Thanks for the info. Certainly seems like Shady gets low-balled. But, maybe I’m biased.

  • Chapat

    Wow an article by 24/7 that wasn’t DeSean DeSean DeSean still

    • Eneagled1

      and yet you managed to bring him up.

      • Chapat

        Lol yep, so use to seeing his name on this site

  • NickS1

    I liked the analysis from the guy at Chip Wagon. Overall it’s a nice break down of the sacks. However, I don’t think it’s conducive to proving anything DeSean related by itself. I think if you factor in the routes where DeSean had most of his success (still the longer routes) with the analysis and you get you get a better picture of what Chip may want, which, in my opinion, seems to be that bigger guy with sub-4.5 speed who can get off jams in order to have the success on short/intermediate routes. It’s a nice analysis, but I just don’t see the direct relationship with Foles’ sacks and DeSean’s strength’s/weaknesses.

    • anon

      Haven’t read the article yet though i don’t know if there’s a chipwagon article that i haven’t liked. Do think that that’s partially why we dropped desean. The best thing about nick during pre-season was that he did all those quick small passes that got the offense in a rhythm and moved it downfield. It’s soo easy to fall in love with DJax’s big plays, but they take a while to develop, making Foles hold on to the ball too long and that takes the offense out of a rhythm.

      • DoctorRick

        Wait!! So, maybe keeping a receiver whose strength is the long ball and whose plays would need a relatively long time to develop is counter to the stated philosophy of getting the ball out of the QB’s hands in 1.5 seconds! So letting that receiver go was a football decision after all.

      • NickS1

        Yeah, I thought all pre-season that that was the type of offense that Chip wanted to run, too. That’s also an easier offense to run against vanilla D. I think now that Chip has had a season to see what DCs do and had another opportunity to mold the team how he sees fit, we’ll get to see more of that, especially if we can get a WR who can get himself free right away off the line for a quick slant, etc. Sproles will obviously help this out as well, but the combo of Sproles, the guy who can get off press quickly, plus Mac/Coop/Ertz, should hopefully get us in the direction of more of that tempo we saw so much of at Oregon.

        Remember against WSH last year when we ran 53 plays in the first half and everyone thought that was going to be the norm, not even taking into consideration it took three turnovers to have that happen? Yeah, I won’t be shocked if we start seeing 40+ play halves more regularly, if not this year, then probably next, after another year of building up what Chip wants.

    • Kev_H

      I didn’t take from it that there was a direct, observable relationship, but he showed that there were an awful lot of sacks where Foles didn’t have a quick outlet. Did the skills of the players on the field limit the playcalling? I don’t think either wr from 2013 is good at getting open quickly on short routes.

      • NickS1

        I agree with you. I think, at least to an extent, that yes, the WRs on the field limited some of the playcalling. When you see where your #1′s success was (using the route tree breakdown that was provided before) vs. what you want to be doing and what your #1 should be able to do, it makes a little more sense, especially when you throw in that price tag.

  • Mark F

    “6 – The Eagles’ rank in terms of tackling efficiency last year. Per Football Outsiders, Billy Davis’ defense missed a tackle on just 5 percent of its plays in 2013. Only five teams in the NFL had lower numbers. What makes the ranking even more impressive is that the Eagles finished last and second-to-last in that category in 2012 and 2011, respectively.”

    More tackling drills!

    • DetmerWonAHeisman

      Biggest reason they improved in tackling efficiency is that they got rid of a lot of the players that couldn’t tackle!

      • paul from nc

        Partly, but the coaching the previous two years was horrible.

    • paul from nc

      Remember when the media was all over Chip for not tackling in preseason?
      Who would have thought?

      • anon

        I was one — especially after the pre-season games and the first couple of regular season games, it was awful. Remember that scrimmage against the Pats where Blount had that cutback run on like the first drive of the game?

        I don’t know if they tackle more in practice or they preach more about angles, etc. whatever it is it’s working.

        • Warhound

          I seem to recall that they worked on wrapping-up but not taking the ball carrier to the ground.

        • Joe L

          You mean the run where Brandon Graham showed the agility of a handicapped man on stilts? Yea I remember that one.

        • Ark87

          Ah, the Keystone Cops run. I was in the same boat, but to be fair, the early struggles were more to do with no one knowing what the hell they were doing than the tackling. Seemed like no one was ever in position. Billy (or chip) decided we weren’t going to go with the hybrid approach as a stepping stone towards the true 3-4, I can only imagine it was a discussion that escalated and culminated in:

          “F-IT,WE’LL DO IT LIVE!” -Bill O’Reilly

  • Scott J

    All I see is McCoy excelerating away from Detroit defenders in a foot of snow.

    • Jeff Asay

      Accelerating*

  • PaoliBulldog

    We all expected Chip to upgrade the offense, but Davis was an unexpected surprise. He’s the main reason I give Chippah the benefit of the doubt on controversial decisions.

  • Eneagled1

    The eagles were 6th in tackling last year, and yet Kendricks, their 2nd leading tackler was worst among LB’s. I can see two takeaways here; without Kendricks dragging them down, the Eagles were probably the best tackling team; and if Kendricks can improve to just average, the Eagles could be best in the league next year. There are no trophies for tackling but its still a good sign.

    • A Roy

      Think Kendricks was worst in 2012. Somewhat better last year.

  • dislikedisqus

    Great stats. The chip wagon link mos def worth reading.

    Boykin seems to be earning a big contract between his leadership in takeaways and his crisp tackling.

  • paul from nc

    Tackling was one of the biggest reasons for the Eagles showing in 2011 and 2012.
    They were pathetic. The CB’s were the biggest problem, but it filtered through the whole team.
    It’s nice to see the improvement. Coaching must make a difference.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    Hoping the defense can continue to improve. Adding Jenkins & improving the depth at S, CB, OLB will help. But the biggest key to this defense vaulting itself upward will be adding that young pass rusher opposite Barwin. A true #1 CB would be nice to add, but without that true 34 LB on the right side, it’ll still be a defense that just looks to be lacking.

    Hopeful we can address both positions as well as WR (but of course) in a few days.

  • IAteLunchToday

    I would like to know how involved Chip Kelly is involved with the defense. I thought I read that even though he’s with the offense during practice, he watches all the film on the defense later.

    I know that Nick Aliottii was the DC before Chip came and they were never that great. In fact, I always hated him with his ‘bend until you break defense.’ I always called him Nick Allow-alotti. I’m not saddened to see him retire. Under Kelly the defense turned it around. They were pretty darn awesome, actually. I just never really knew if it was because they started to have success so they were able to get better athletes, sports science, Kelly’s eye for talent, the defense practicing against his offense, Kelly giving direction to the other coaches after watching film, measurables, Azz, or whatever. Didn’t Kelly actually start out on the defense? I don’t think he doesn’t care about the defense or anything like that. How can someone so passionate about football only care about a third of the game? Anyways, Billy Davis is probably pretty good, but Aliotti sucked before Kelly and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s ‘retiring’ now that Kelly is gone. If I remember correctly, Kelly was supposed to keep Aliotti on as part of the agreement of Bellotti stepping aside. But I digress.

    • Jeff Asay

      You must be a Duck fan checking in on Kelly. Won’t find an NFL guy like me too interested in the Ducks or college football much. Maybe now that there’s a college playoff and some upstarts might have a shot alongside the perennials I will care about the semipro game known as major college football.

    • Anders

      The Eagles under Kelly also preaches bend, but dont break. The Eagles under former DC Jim Johnson did the same.

      DC’s hate to give up the long play and they think if the offense has to dunk and dunk, it increases the chance for a bad play (sack, dropped pass or turnover).

      This also ties into having an elite offense, if your offense scores fast, it put pressure on the other teams offense and they might think they cant dink and dunk so they take even more chances.

      • IAteLunchToday

        I am aware that’s what they are doing. I was just saying that Allioti was unable to make it not break before Chip Kelly.

        • Anders

          I know Kelly got Allioti to switch from a 4-3 1 gap to a 3-4 2 gap, so maybe that helped fit what was at Oregon?

  • Kev_H

    If the performance of the league leading rushers in the year after leading the league (since Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith hung them up) is any indication, the Eagles shouldn’t count on “more of the same” from McCoy in 2014. If he does close to as well or better in 2014 as he did in 2013, it will be an astounding accomplishment.

  • sprawl

    The fact that there is a low year-to-year correlation for INT rate is kind of alarming in terms of Foles going next season with less than 6 INTs but there is a pretty significant year-to-year correlation in Yards Per Attempt and as Sheil pointed out Foles led the league in that area.

    Still trying to decide between Foles, Ertz and Boykin to replace my DJax jersey…

  • Cyrus Robinson

    LeSean and Lynch break tackles in completely different fashions. If the Eagles could get a power runner that can break tackles and doesn’t get tackled by ghosts (I’m looking at you, Bryce Brown!), the running game’s effectiveness would be even higher, and defenses wouldn’t know whether to attack the RB with all their strength or to aim as carefully as possible.

  • southy

    For the purposes of the statistic, do 2 broken ankles add up to 1 broken tackle? I’m pretty sure Shady has Lynch in that category.