Three Eagles Numbers That Matter
Here is our weekly look at three Eagles numbers that matter.
59 – That’s Brandon Boykin’s success rate, according to Football Outsiders. Success rate is defined as “the share of targets on which the corner prevented a successful gain (45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent on second down and 100 percent on third down).”
Boykin’s mark ranked tied for fifth in the entire NFL last season, behind only New England’s Darrelle Revis, Indianapolis’ Vontae Davis, Buffalo’s Corey Graham and Houston’s Kareem Jackson.
I remember Boykin saying he felt like he played better in 2014 than he did the year before. Many looked at interceptions (six in 2013; one in 2014), but if you look at success rate, the numbers back up his claim (he was at 56 percent in 2013). It doesn’t seem like Eagles coaches are going to give him a shot on the outside, but Boykin will likely enter free agency at the age of 25 after this season, and someone’s going to get a really good corner.
Meanwhile, it’s fascinating to compare Byron Maxwell and Cary Williams here. Maxwell posted a 51 percent success rate, slightly below Williams (52 percent).
To be clear, this is just one metric, and I think Maxwell is the superior player. But it will be fascinating to see how he performs without Earl Thomas behind him, while Williams will get a chance to team up with the most talented secondary in the NFL.
27 – Where Chip Kelly ranked in Football Outsiders’ Aggressive Index. The metric measures the willingness of coaches to go for it on fourth down, compared to the league average.
In the article, Aaron Schatz explains that the metric has some flaws – most notably that it doesn’t control for coaches punting when they have big leads late. But still, the numbers show Kelly was much more conservative in 2014 than he was in Year 1.
The feeling here is a lot of that has to do with his confidence in the offense. If Kelly feels like he has a smooth-operating juggernaut on that side of the ball, expect him to be more aggressive in fourth-down situations (especially if the run game is clicking).
If he has a group he doesn’t trust up front and a mistake-prone QB, expect him to finish down near the bottom of the Aggressive Index in future years.
24.7 – The percentage of throws to Zach Ertz that were deemed uncatchable, according to Football Outsiders. Ertz was targeted 89 times, and per their charting, he had no shot at 22 of those passes. That was the seventh-highest rate of uncatchable targets among tight ends.
Eagles quarterbacks overthrew Ertz 18.0 percent of the time when targeting him. That was second-highest among all tight ends. In other words, your eyes weren’t deceiving you. The numbers back up the image in your head of Ertz running free on a corner route only to have Nick Foles or Mark Sanchez sail the throw.
Ertz had a good year, finishing with 58 catches for 702 yards. But the numbers suggest those numbers could have been even better. On film, Ertz got open consistently, and his drop rate of 2.2 percent was fifth-lowest among tight ends.
But the coaches didn’t trust him as a blocker in the run game so he was on the sideline for nearly 50 percent of the snaps. If Ertz can improve in that area, and if the quarterbacks can be more accurate when targeting him, his numbers will see another boost in 2015.