Three Eagles Numbers That Matter
From red zone production to play-action passes to the in-season travel schedule, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.
36.5 – DeMarco Murray’s TD rate on carries inside the opponents’ 10 the last two years, according to writer Graham Barfield. Murray scored 19 times on 52 attempts. That’s the fifth-best mark among running backs since 2013.
LeSean McCoy, meanwhile, ranked 35th in this category, converting just eight of 46 attempts (17.4 percent) into touchdowns. While there are plenty of factors that go into this – play-calling, the offensive line, etc. – it seems reasonable to expect that the Eagles could get more from Murray than McCoy when they get into scoring range.
Overall, the Eagles were not a good red zone offense last year, averaging 4.56 points per possession when inside the opponents’ 20. Chip Kelly often cited turnovers early in the season, but Mark Sanchez threw 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone. If you’re wondering about Sam Bradford, he threw 13 TDs and zero red zone picks in 2013 with the Rams.
The problem very well could be as much on Kelly as the players. In 2013, even when the offense was a juggernaut, the Eagles ranked 26th, averaging just 4.58 points per red-zone possession. We’ll see if Kelly can get the problem fixed with new personnel on the offensive side of the ball.
33 – The percentage of Eagles pass plays last year that involved play-action, according to Football Outsiders. That was tops in the league. In terms of performance, the Eagles ranked sixth in DVOA on play-action passes.
The Eagles performed poorly on pass plays that did not use play-action (24th). And their difference in DVOA between play-action and non play-action was the third-largest in the NFL.
In case you’re wondering, the play-action frequency and performance were quite similar in 2013. In Kelly’s first year, the Eagles used play-action 31 percent of the time (second) and ranked sixth in DVOA.
The difference in the passing game was on non play-action passes. The Eagles ranked fifth in that category with Nick Foles in 2013.
The Eagles seem unlikely to incorporate dramatic scheme changes in 2015. The formula will be the same: run the ball whenever possible; give the QB run/pass options; use a lot of play-action; and take shots downfield.
Kelly and company are backing on the personnel and execution being better.
6,818 – The number of miles the Eagles will travel in 2015, according to CBSSports.com. That’s the fewest of any NFL team.
The Eagles are playing the NFC South, meaning trips to Atlanta and Carolina. They’ve also got the AFC East, which involves games at New England and at the Jets. From a travel perspective, it’s a very friendly slate.
But from a competitive standpoint, does this provide the Eagles with an edge?
During the NBA finals, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com wrote a great article on LeBron James’ workload and what he was being asked to do in terms of minutes played, rest between games, sleep and travel. While basketball and football are different, there are certainly parts that apply from a sports science perspective:
And flying is a problem. In the Premier League, players are never required to take flights longer than an hour. Studies show that long-distance travel that crosses time zones can have serious effects on muscle recovery.
The piece also talks about the idea of resting players early in the season so that they’re fresh down the stretch. Is that something we could see with a guy like Murray if game situations allow for it?
Obviously, an 82-game basketball schedule is different than a 16-game football schedule, but across all spectrums, teams are turning to sports science for every possible edge.