Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Numbers That Matter
From the run defense to the issues in the red zone to the remaining schedule, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.
4 – That’s where the Eagles’ run defense ranks, according to Football Outsiders. Quietly, this unit has performed consistently well all season. It all starts up front with Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton. But really, it’s been a team effort.
“I think our guys are playing with great fundamentals,” said Chip Kelly. “Our defensive line, especially, is doing a great job of two‑gapping things, especially when we are in our base defense, and forming flat walls across the front and making the ball bounce to the perimeter.
“I think our outside linebackers are doing a great job of setting the edge, and then I think we have inside linebackers that have a great knowledge of where their fits are and where they are supposed to be in the front. And I think, also, having guys like Malcolm [Jenkins] and Nate [Allen] at the safety spot who can really fit and understand what we are supposed to do. So, it’s really a team effort on the defensive side, especially stopping the run.”
Pretty much every week, the defense’s first goal is to stop the run, but that will especially be the case against the Texans. No team runs the ball more than Houston (51 percent of the time), and Arian Foster has piled up 766 yards, while averaging 5.2 YPC.
32 – Where the Eagles’ offense ranks in terms of red zone efficiency. The Birds are converting trips inside the 20 into touchdowns just 34.78 percent of the time, last in the NFL. In 2013, the Eagles were at 53.23 percent (12th).
“Turnovers,” said Kelly, when asked to identify the biggest issue. “You’re not going to score any points in there. I think our mindset is you have three, we’re greedy and we want seven. But you can’t come away without anything in that situation. I think the turnovers are really the biggest part that’s killing us in the red zone right now.”
Nick Foles has completed just 42.9 percent of his passes in the red zone for five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Texans have the third-best red-zone defense in the league, allowing touchdowns 48.3 percent of the time.
68.5 – The Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs going into Week 9, according to Football Outsiders.
The numbers suggest the Eagles have a 45.2 percent chance of winning the division, just below the Cowboys (50.5 percent). They have a 27 percent chance of earning a bye and a 23.3 percent chance of earning a wild card berth.
Another interesting note: The Eagles have played the easiest schedule in the league, according to the Football Outsiders’ calculations. Their remaining schedule is 12th-toughest.
WHAT YOU MISSED
In this week’s All-22 analysis, we dissect the Eagles’ offensive issues. Notes on Foles, the spot on the Chris Polk run, LeSean McCoy’s failed third-and-inches attempt and more.
If Nate Allen’s hamstring injury sidelines him, Earl Wolff will start, and Chip Kelly doesn’t seem all that confident in the second-year player.
Kelly says Todd Herremans will have to decide how much he can or can’t do this week.
The Eagles are looking at a free agent safety. T-Mac with more details.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz weighs in on the red zone issues:
I think the Red Zone issues are heavily influenced by the OL situation. When you get into a condensed space, scheme is less important than execution. Blocking needs to be precise. That’s not been the case for the Eagles this year. Things are improving as the OL gets healthy and builds continuity, but there is still a long way to go. I look forward to seeing how the line plays when the starting 5 are finally together. The Red Zone offense should look different.
Bob Brookover of the Inquirer writes about Jeremy Maclin‘s work ethic:
Jeremy Maclin does not do the diva act we have seen from a long list of No. 1 NFL wide receivers over the years. Maclin, in fact, does not even care if you consider him a No. 1 receiver, which a lot of people did not before this season.
Perspective probably best explains Maclin’s modest blue-collar approach to life and his brutal profession. He has had to deal with a large dose of difficult reality during his 26 years and that has helped form the man’s leathery interior and exterior.
Maclin’s teammates acknowledged his tenacity Tuesday when it was announced that the receiver had been voted by his peers as this year’s winner of the Ed Block Courage Award for the Eagles, an honor usually bestowed upon a player who has overcome a devastating injury or some other kind of personal tragedy.
We’ll talk to Kelly and have more from practice.