Some links to pass along this weekend:
Pro Football Focus has a thorough statistical breakdown of Nick Foles‘ 2013 campaign. Here’s some of what they came away with:
• Led the league with 92.5% of his drop-backs coming from the shotgun or pistol.
• 8.0% of his passes came on scrambles outside the pocket, above the league average of 5.6%.
• Threw the highest percentage of passes at 20+ yards (18.9%) and 30+ yard (7.0%).
• Threw 31.6% of his passes outside the numbers to his right, third-highest in the league.
• Overall, 54.6% of his passes went outside the numbers, fifth-highest in the league.
• Dropped back to 9 or more yards on 38.5% of his drop-backs, sixth-highest in the league.
• 26.6% of passes lasted at least 3.6 seconds, fourth-highest in the league.
• Threw the highest percentage of screens in the league at 17.5% of his total drop-backs.
• Threw crossing routes on 16.1% of his drop-backs, highest percentage in the league.
• Threw the lowest percentage of slants in the league at 3.1%
KC Joyner of ESPN.com says the Eagles won’t miss DeSean Jackson. He identifies four elements that are part of their plan to replace his production, which includes the return of Jeremy Maclin.
Jackson's main role in the Eagles' offense was to be the vertical threat. According to ESPN Stats & Information, his 905 receiving yards on vertical passes (defined as aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield) accounted for 38 percent of Philadelphia's production in that area last season.
Maclin missed the entire 2013 campaign due to an ACL tear in his right knee, but in 2012 he outpaced Jackson in terms of vertical receptions (47 for Maclin, 42 for Jackson), vertical yards (540 for Maclin, 449 for Jackson) and vertical touchdowns (five for Maclin, two for Jackson). To be fair, Maclin played in 15 games that year and Jackson played in only 11, but even if those numbers are tabulated on a per-game basis, Maclin was nearly as productive as Jackson. Given that his recovery is going quite well (Maclin recently said he feels faster in some ways), Maclin should be on pace to mimic Jackson's role as a downfield target in 2014.
Pete Prisco of CBS put a list together of what he believes are the most overrated and underrated players on each team. Here's what he has for the Eagles.
Overrated: QB Nick Foles -- Let's slow the train down some, OK. He did some good things last season, but you'd think he was a star already. It takes time. Let's see him do it again. Not saying he can't, but let's see it again.
Underrated: CB Brandon Boykin -- Who? He doesn't start, but as the nickel corner he is a key to their defense. Boykin doesn't have the size to be a full-time starter outside, but he is plenty good on the inside.
Cedric Thornton is focused on improving as a pass rusher, writes Geoff Mosher.
Although he routinely strong-armed opposing offensive linemen and made disruptive plays in the backfield, Thornton finished his first season as an Eagles starter with just one sack. Never mind that it came against Peyton Manning in Week 4. He went the next 13 weeks without one. As the drought elapsed, so did the doubt.
“You hear it,” he said. “You want to take everything with a grain of salt, but you know for sure (what’s being said). Stats-wise, I looked at it and I only had one sack. Then when you read it and you find out everybody else knows and is noticing, it takes you out mentally. You’ll be like, ‘OK, you’re really not a pass rusher.’ I let that get to me last year.”
Even his wife, Shakacia, piled on the heap.
“She tells me, ‘You only had one sack,’” he added. “It’s motivation to keep going and try to get more than one, get more than five, get more than the [average for] 3-4 defensive ends.”
Thornton spent much of his offseason fighting the perception that he’s a one-trick pony in the most literal sense. In an effort to refine the coordination between his hands and feet, he took up boxing at a South Jersey gym.