Eagles vs. Raiders: By the Numbers

The Eagles will be looking for more efficacy on first and second downs against Las Vegas.

Jalen Reagor, Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, and Quez Watkins against the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on September 19th. / Photograph by Mitchell Leff / Contributor via Getty Images

At the tippy-top of the Eagles’ offensive things-to-do list heading into Sunday’s game against the Raiders in Sin City is better production on first and second down.

The Eagles converted just seven of 23 third-down opportunities (30.4 percent) in their last two games against Tampa Bay and Carolina. A big reason for that was a lack of production on first and second down. Sixteen of their 23 third-down opportunities in the last two games were five yards or more. Ten were seven yards or more.

The Eagles are averaging 6.1 yards per play on first down this season, which is the 10th best average in the league. But the last two weeks, they’ve averaged a puny 2.7 yards on first down, which is the lowest average in the NFL during that period. They’ve had 47 first-down plays in the last two games. Twenty-nine of those 47 plays gained two yards or less.

Jalen Hurts, who had a 103.6 first-down passer rating in the Eagles’ first four games, has a 38.1 rating in the last two. He completed just 52 percent of his first-down passes against the Panthers and Bucs, with two interceptions and four sacks on first down. He averaged just 3.0 yards per pass attempt on first down.

In the first four games, Hurts had a 67.2 first-down completion percentage with no interceptions and two sacks.

The Eagles averaged 7.6 yards on second down against the Bucs last week. But that number was skewed by two fourth-quarter plays – a 25-yard pass from Hurts to DeVonta Smith and a 23-yard run by Miles Sanders. Take those two plays out of the equation and the average drops to 5.2.

Overall, the Eagles are 12th in second-down yards per play (6.0). Just 47 of their 114 second-down plays this season (41.2) have been run plays.

“We’ve got to be more efficient on first and second down,” Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said this week, stating the obvious.

One thing that would help is mixing it up a little more. The Eagles are averaging just 22 rushing attempts per game in the first six games, which is the fifth-lowest average in the league. Running backs Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell are averaging a combined 13 carries per game.

Ninety-six of the Eagles’ 158 first-down plays (60.7 percent) have been pass plays. The only two teams in the league with a higher first-down pass-play rate are the 1-5 Dolphins (63.4) and Giants (62.9).

Defense On First Down

  • The Eagles defense is 14th in average yards allowed on first down (5.4). They’re seventh against the run on first down (3.8), but 25th against the pass (7.8).
  • Opposing quarterbacks have a 111.7 passer rating against the Eagles on first down. They’ve completed 76.7 percent of their passes and have averaged 8.0 yards per attempt.
  • In the Eagles’ four losses, opposing QBs have a 134.2 first-down passer rating. Last week, Tom Brady completed 10 of 14 passes for 101 yards on first down. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes completed 12 of 15 first-down passes for 146 yards and two TDs. The Cowboys’ Dak Prescott was 7-for-8 for 101 yards on first down. The 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo was 7-for-9 for 78 yards and a TD.

A lot of 11

  • Nick Sirianni clearly favors 11-personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR), and the fact that the Eagles have been playing from behind much of the time this season has increased the use of 11-personnel even more. They’ve used 11P on 251 of their 353 offensive plays (71.1 percent). That’s considerably more than Doug Pederson ever used 11P in his five years here. A year-by-year breakdown of Pederson’s use of 11-personnel: 2020 (61.0 percent), 2019 (40.9 percent), 2018 (53.2 percent), 2017 (65.1 percent), 2016 (56.3 percent).
  • The Eagles have run the ball 132 times in the first six games. Eighty-five (64.4 percent) have been with 11-personnel. They’ve averaged 5.8 yards per carry running out of 11P. That’s primarily attributed to Jalen Hurts’ running. Forty-two of his 53 runs have been out of 11P (6.9 yards per carry).
  • During the spring and summer, Nick Sirianni talked a lot — OK, a few times — about using two-running back packages.  But he’s used Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell together in the backfield just six times in six games. Three of those plays were against the Bucs last week. All were in the first half: a deep incompletion to DeVonta Smith on the Eagles’ second offensive play, a four-yard swing pass to Sanders that very nearly was a pick-six, and a one-yard run by Hurts on a second-and-six when he couldn’t find anybody open.

Hurts Locker

  • While Hurts has been inconsistent as a thrower in the first six games, he has shined as a runner. Hurts is tied for 11th in the league in rushing first downs with 21. That’s the second most among quarterbacks, behind only the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, who has 24. Jackson has rushed for 392 yards on 64 carries (6.1 per carry). Hurts has rushed for 300 on 53 (5.7).
  • Hurts, who had 20 rushing touchdowns (on 233 carries) at Oklahoma in 2019, already has five this season. He’s on pace for 14. The most Michael Vick ever had in a season during his career was nine (with the Eagles in 2010). Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb never had more than six. Jackson’s career-high is seven (in 2019 and 2020).
  • Hurts completed three of six 20-plus-yard throws against Tampa Bay for 72 yards. Two other deep balls, to Jalen Reagor, drew defensive pass interference penalties of 50 and 45 yards. For the season, Hurts has completed 11 of 28 throws (39.2 percent) of 20-plus yards for 390 yards, one TD, and three interceptions.
  • DeVonta Smith has been targeted a team-high 12 times on 20-plus-yard throws, but has caught just three of them for 80 yards and a touchdown. Quez Watkins has been targeted eight times and has six catches for 258 yards.
  • Hurts is 15th in the league in third-down passing with a 92.3 rating. But just 16 of his 48 third-down pass attempts (33.3 percent) have resulted in first downs. He was 1-for-7 for 23 yards and one first down on third down against the Bucs. The only QBs with a lower first-down percentage on third down are the Bears’ Justin Fields (32.1), the Broncos’ Teddy Bridgewater (31.2) and Washington’s Taylor Heinicke (29.2).

Screen Struggles

  • The Eagles ran just two screen plays against the Bucs – one to Zach Ertz that gained six yards and one to Quez Watkins that lost three yards. The Eagles have run 31 screens in the first six games. They were very effective in the first four games, but not so much in the last two. They ran 23 screens in the first four games. That gained 221 yards, an impressive average of 9.6 yards per play. They ran four against the Chiefs that gained 64 yards. They ran seven against the Cowboys that gained 58 yards. The last two weeks against the Panthers and Bucs, they ran eight that gained zero yards.
  • Jalen Reagor has 17 receptions this season. Nine of them have been on screen plays. He’s averaging 5.6 yards on screens and 11.2 on his other eight receptions. The breakdown on the other screens: Watkins 6-28, Sanders 5-49, Gainwell 3-35, Smith 2-27, Dallas Goedert 2-18 and Boston Scott 2-5.

More Good Stats Stuff

  • The Eagles have given up a league-high 48 points in the first quarter. They’ve given up first-possession points in five of their first six games, including each of the last four. They’ve given up game-opening back-to-back touchdowns in two of the last three games (Bucs and Chiefs).
  • The Raiders lead the league in 20-plus-yard pass plays with 32. One of the few bright spots of Jonathan Gannon’s defense thus far has been the fact that that they’re not giving up the deep ball. They’ve allowed just 11 20-plus-yard pass plays, the second-fewest in the league.
  • The Raiders don’t turn the ball over much. They have a league-best four giveaways, all on Derek Carr interceptions. The Eagles are 19th in takeaways with six.
  • Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton is third in the league in total tackles with 67. He’s also third among linebackers in missed tackles with 10.
  • The Eagles have just 89 quarterback pressures in the first six games, according to Pro Football Focus. Through six games last year they had 124.

Paul Domowitch has covered pro football for five decades and has been a Hall of Fame selector since 2001. You can reach Paul at or follow him on Twitter at @pdomo.

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