Eagles vs. Jets: By the Numbers
With the Jets on deck, Paul Domowitch takes a look at Nick Sirianni's interest in 11-personnel.
Twelve games into his first season as the Eagles’ head coach, there are a lot of things we’ve learned about the tendencies of Nick Sirianni. One is that he clearly favors three-wide receiver sets, which is not totally surprising given the draft investment general manager Howie Roseman has made in the position the last two years.
Through the first 12 games, the Eagles have used 11-personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) on 69.2% of their offensive plays. Even with Sirianni flipping the switch to a more run-heavy offense a month and change ago, 11 still is his personnel grouping of choice.
The Eagles have used 11-personnel on 72.3% of their plays in the last three games even though they averaged 40.7 rushing attempts per game in those three games. In Sunday’s 13-7 loss to the Giants, they ran the ball 33 times, and used 11P on 73.8% of their plays. Nineteen of their 33 runs (for 130 yards) were with 11-personnel.
The Eagles have been successful most of the season running the ball out of 11P. When an offense shows 11P, a defense typically takes out a linebacker and puts in an extra defensive back, which theoretically makes them better against the pass, but weaker against the run. Especially when that team has a quarterback that can run as well as Jalen Hurts.
The Eagles have averaged 5.7 yards per carry this season with 11P. That’s a yard more per carry than they have averaged with 12P (1RB, 2TE, 2WR).
Hurts has averaged 7.3 yards per carry with 11P. All but 71 of his 695 rushing yards have come with 11P. The Eagles’ four running backs — Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard and Kenny Gainwell — have averaged 4.7 yards per carry with 11P.
Sirianni doesn’t even try to keep opponents guessing when he uses 12- and 13-personnel. These days he almost always is going to run when he goes to multiple tight ends. That may eventually change, but not recently. In the Eagles’ last eight games, they have used 12/13-personnel 147 times. Just 26 of those plays have been pass plays (17.7%).
Dallas Goedert has 35 catches in the first 12 games. Twenty-four of them have been out of 11-personnel. He’s had just five catches with 11/12-personnel in the last eight games.
That’s a departure from Doug Pederson’s approach when he was the team’s head coach. Last year, they threw the ball 56.5% of the time when they used 12/13P. The year before that, 56.9%. The year before that, 57.6%.
Hurts has attempted just 52 passes this season with 12-personnel, compared to 282 with 11-personnel. But he’s struggled throwing the ball lately against defenses that aren’t in base.
In the Eagles’ first four games this season, Hurts had a 101.9 passer rating with 11P, including a 66.0 completion percentage and an 8.0 yards-per-attempt average. But his passing numbers with 11P over the last eight games have not been nearly as good: a 64.6 passer rating, a 55.3 completion percentage, and just 5.5 yards per attempt.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THIRD DOWN
- The Eagles converted just four of 11 third-down opportunities against the Giants, who are ranked 12th in third-down defense (38.7). The Eagles went into the game ranked fourth in third-down offense (46.1%). In the previous five games, they had converted 27 of 39 third downs of five yards or less (69.2%). Eight of their 11 third downs against the Giants were five yards or less, but they managed to convert just four of those eight. Worse, two of Hurts’ three interceptions came on a third-and-five and a third-and-one. His lone sack came on a third-and-four.
- Improving on third down is going to be very high on Hurts’ things-to-do list during the offseason. He completed just two of seven passes on third down against the Giants. In his 12 starts this season, Hurts has completed just 51.2% of his third-down attempts. In his four starts last season, he completed just 40 percent of his third-down attempts (16-for-40). He’s 32nd in third-down completion percentage among quarterbacks this season with at least 40 attempts. He’s tied for 20th in third-down passes that have produced first downs (31 of 82, 37.8%). He’s managed to offset that much of that with his running ability. He’s second in the NFL to the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor in rushing first downs (50), and is first in rushing first downs on third down (21). The Bills’ Josh Allen is second with 17 and the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson is third with 13.
- The Eagles head into the Jets game ranked 14th in third-down defense (40.1%). The Giants converted just three of 12 third downs against them, but the Saints were 6-for-13 and the Chargers were 5-for-10. The Jets are 14th in third-down offense (40.4). Rookie Zach Wilson has completed just 52.9% of his third-down attempts. Eleven of his 23 sacks, but only two of his 10 interceptions, have come on third down. Running back Ty Johnson has a team-high 12 receptions on third down, which is more than any Eagles receiver. He’s averaging 10.8 yards per catch overall.
THE UNPRODUCTIVE PASS RUSH
- The Eagles are 28th in the NFL in sacks with 19. Even with the addition of a 17th game this season, they’re on pace to finish with just 27 sacks. That would be the team’s fewest since — are you ready for this? — 1976, when Dick Vermeil’s first defense managed just 19.
- The defense has just two sacks in the last four games. They’ve had one or zero sacks in eight of their 12 games. You would think they’d be able to pad their total Sunday against rookie Zach Wilson and the Jets, who have given up 31 sacks already this season. Wilson has been sacked once every 9.9 pass plays this season. But that’s not a given with this defense. They had just 11 pressures Sunday against the Giants’ Daniel Jones, including a sack and three hits. Fletcher Cox, who once was considered one of the game’s better interior defensive linemen, has a grand total of one sack this season even though he’s been seeing more one-on-one blocks than he has since early in his career. Josh Sweat, who signed a three-year, $40 million extension earlier this season, has 3 ½ sacks. Former first-round pick Derek Barnett, who is making $10 million in this, what almost certainly will be his last year with the Eagles, has two sacks.
MORE PASSING-GAME STUFF
- Besides the three interceptions and the drops, one of the more concerning passing-game numbers to come out of the Giants loss was that Hurts completed just 10 of 17 of his 0-to-10-yard throws. In the previous three games, he had completed 18 of 19 passes at that distance and had a 71.5 season completion percentage.
- Hurts completed one of five passes on throws of 20-plus yards. But those four incompletions included Jalen Reagor’s two drops on the Eagles’ final possession. In the last three games, Hurts is 2-for-14 on 20-plus yard throws. For the season, he is 17-for-54 (31.5%) on deep balls. Five of his eight interceptions have been on 20-plus yard throws.
- Hurts has thrown one red-zone touchdown pass in the last five games. He has zero passing yards in the red zone in three of those five games. In their first seven games, the Eagles converted 70.8% of their red-zone opportunities (17 of 24) into touchdowns. In the last five games, they’ve converted just 58.8% (10 of 17).
- In the Eagles’ season-opening win over the Falcons, it looked like Nick Sirianni had found an effective way to use 2020 first-round wideout Jalen Reagor. The Eagles ran eight screens that day. Four of them were with Reagor, who converted them into 30 yards and a touchdown. Since then, Reagor and the screen game have been largely ineffective. They’ve used him on seven screens in the last 11 games. They’ve gained 13 yards. He has caught just 14 other passes.
ABOUT THE JETS DEFENSE
- It’s pretty bad. Their 21-14 win over the Texans last week was the first time they’ve held a team under 24 points since their 19-14 Week 1 loss to Carolina. And because it was the Texans, it really shouldn’t even count. The Jets’ 107.0 opponent passer rating is the worst in the league. Their 69.9 opponent completion percentage is the third lowest. They’ve got a league-low four interceptions. They’re 26th in opponent rush average (4.5) and have given up a league-high 20 rushing touchdowns. They have forced just nine turnovers this season and have a league-worst minus-15 turnover differential.
MORE GOOD STAT STUFF
- The Eagles have not allowed an opponent to score on their first possession in the last six games. They have given up just 10 points in the first quarter in those six games after giving up a league-high 48 in their first six games.
- The offense has scored on its first possession just once in the last five games. That was a field goal against the Broncos in Week 10. They have had just two first downs on their first possessions in the other four games.
- In their first seven games, the Eagles had 203 first-down plays. Passed on 121 of them and ran it just 82 times. That’s a 40.4 run-play percentage. In their last five games, they’ve passed just 45 times on first down and run it 106 (70.2%).
- Hurts is 10th in the league in rushing with 695 yards, and is tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns with eight.
- Hurts is on pace for 173 rushing attempts. Just one other quarterback in history has carried the ball more in a single season – the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, who had 176 rushing attempts in 2019. Cam Newton’s season-high for rushing attempts was 139 in 2017. The most carries Michael Vick had in a season was 123 in 2016. Randall Cunningham’s high was 118 in 1990. The Bears’ Bobby Douglass had 141 carries in 1972 when the league played 14 games.
- The Eagles have the second most rushing attempts in the league (371), but don’t have a runner with 20 carries in a game yet. Hurts had 18 against the Saints. Jordan Howard had 17 against the Chargers, Miles Sanders had 16 against the Saints. Boston Scott had 15 against the Giants. And Kenny Gainwell had 13 against the Lions.
- The Eagles are second in first-down rush average (5.1). They averaged 5.4 last week against the Giants.
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