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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