With Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season in the books, here’s a look at three Philadelphia Eagles numbers that matter.
One – The number of quarterbacks since 1970 who have started and won their first two games without throwing an interception. That’s right, Carson Wentz is the only one.
It’s difficult to not be impressed with how well Wentz has played. Doug Pederson said Wentz is performing like a 10-year veteran, and it’s hard to disagree. He’s not making the kind of careless mistakes that most rookie quarterbacks are expected to go through. Wentz is taking care of the ball while also not being afraid to take shots down the field.
There are reasons to keep the Wentz hype in check. For one, the Eagles haven’t beaten any truly great teams. The Browns and Bears are some of the worst teams in the league. And Wentz has only looked good in a small sample size.
But none of these factors should completely discredit what Wentz has been able to do so far. He’s done such a good job of operating the pre-snap phase and his natural talent is apparent. Eagles fans have every right to be excited that the team has potentially found their next legitimate franchise quarterback. Now Wentz faces the biggest test of his career in a game against the Steelers this week.
50 – Through two games, the Eagles’ defense has faced the fewest amount of plays per game in the NFL. That’s a stark contrast from the Chip Kelly era. Last year, the Eagles’ defense faced 71.8 plays per game. That means the defense faced nearly 1,150 snaps on the season. If the Eagles maintain their current pace, they’ll only face 800 snaps. It’ll almost be like this year’s defense played six or seven less games than last year’s unit.
Now, it’s unrealistic to think the Eagles’ defense will sustain their current pace. 50 is a very low number. NFL teams with the fewest plays per game faced in years past typically finished around 58 or 59. But even if that’s the case, it’s probably safe to say the Eagles’ defense doesn’t have to worry about playing as many extra snaps as they did in the past.
There are a few reasons why the Eagles are facing fewer plays. First, the Eagles lead the NFL in average time of possession at 37 minutes and 42 seconds per game. Philadelphia’s ball-control offense is doing a good job of staying on the field and not turning the ball over. Another reason is because the defense is playing well. The Eagles are getting stops and makings plays on the ball. Jim Schwartz‘s unit has allowed the fewest points in the NFL.
Philadelphia’s defense really wore down late in the season in the last two years of the Kelly era. The Eagles can hope that their new philosophy of controlling the clock can put less pressure on the defense to play so many snaps over the course of a season.
+34 – The Eagles currently own the best point differential in the NFL. Yes, Philadelphia has only beaten bad teams, and yes, it’s a small sample size. But the Eagles are legitimately playing well. They’re beating their opponents decisively.
Advanced metrics favor the Eagles as well. The Birds rank No. 1 overall in DVOA by Football Outsiders.
This week’s game against the Steelers is obviously a big test for the Eagles. Pittsburgh is 0-8 since 1966 when playing in Philadelphia and this could be the week the streak is snapped. The Steelers own the third best point differential in the NFL at +30. They rank fourth overall in DVOA. Dating back to last year, the Steelers are averaging 31.7 points per game in their last 10 regular season tilts.
Sunday afternoon could figure as a measuring stick for this Eagles team. Are they for real or will they struggle against a legitimate Super Bowl contender?