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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Philadelphia Eagles: Stats That Matter 2 Weeks into the NFL Season - Bleacher Report

About 75 percent of people know that you can use stats to skew perspectives. The reality is that they rarely tell the whole story, but I also find that they almost always tell part of the story.

Let's attempt to complete the story by tossing out a few of the key stats regarding the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks into the season.

5.8

Technically, the Eagles have the NFL's top-ranked offense. They're averaging 471 yards per game, which is easily tops in the league. But look even a little bit deeper and you realize that's a distortion.

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The true numbers that matter here are points per game (where the Eagles rank 26th with 20.5) and yards per play (they rank 11th with 5.8). That latter number is the one I'm using here because it proves that the 471 yards per game stat is useless. Philadelphia has run more offensive plays than any other team in football, which inflates that average.

It strikes me as odd that they've run so many plays despite a minus-three turnover ratio and a good-but-not-great third-down conversion rate of 44 percent. Regardless, that's where they're at. And on a per-play and point basis, this offense has taken a step back early on in 2012.

22.0

That's Philadelphia's pass coverage rating, courtesy of Pro Football Focus, which is the best in the NFL by a huge margin. In fact, that number is 100 percent higher than all but two other teams.

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The pass rush has been very effective, but they only have four sacks. As a result, the Eagles' secondary is getting a lot of balls thrown its way from quarterbacks under pressure. That phenomenon has definitely helped, but the coverage itself from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha, Brandon Boykin and even safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman has been well above par.

DRC and Boykin are both ranked in the PFF top 10 in terms of coverage thus far, while Asomugha is still 17th despite struggling a bit in Week 2. That trio has given up only eight completions on 28 attempts.

Last year, the Eagles ranked 15th in football with a PFF coverage rating of 2.9.

-1.36

Which defensive newcomer will make the biggest impact this year?

Which defensive newcomer will make the biggest impact this year?

  • DeMeco Ryans

  • Mychal Kendricks

  • Brandon Boykin

  • Fletcher Cox

Courtesy of Advanced NFL Stats, that's Philadelphia defensive win probability added rating, which is the best in football. This essentially measures a defense's ability to make plays when it matters most, weighing each play in terms of significance. The lower the number, the better, and the next number on the list is -0.92.

Last year in Philly, this number was +1.48, which ranked in the middle of the pack. 

The Eagles are on pace to register only 32 sacks this year, which would be a drop off of 36 percent from 2011, and yet the defense is clearly performing much better early on. It's a testament to how good DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have been.

26

That's how many times the offensive line has surrendered pressure on 100 passing plays this season, according to PFF. That gives them a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 80.5, which actually ranks slightly above average. 

Additionally, Michael Vick has only been sacked four times, yet none of those sacks have been credited to the offensive line. Philadelphia's is one of only four lines in football that has yet to give up a sack, per PFF.

So maybe it's not time to panic.

Why Andy Reid Will Lead Eagles to Playoffs - Bleacher Report

Andy Reid is coaching in his 14th season for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is the longest tenured coach in the NFL and is looking to make the playoffs for the ninth time in his career.

And guess what?

He will.

The 2012 Eagles are currently sitting at the top of the NFC East with a record of 2-0.

An undefeated record through two games is hardly anything to brag about, but it does put Philadelphia on the right track for making the playoffs.

Reid is the man that drives the whole team. In the end, making a run at the Super Bowl comes down to him.

Here are four reasons why Reid will lead the Eagles into the playoffs.

His Personnel

Michael Vick is still one of the most dynamic players in the game
Michael Vick is still one of the most dynamic players in the game
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It's pretty difficult to miss the playoffs when your team is as good as this.

The 2011-12 team managed to make that happen, but this year's team is improved in a number of ways.

The creator of the "dream team" title is long gone. You can't usually blame a backup quarterback for a year's worth of struggling, but Vince Young created unrealistic expectations before a game had even been played.

With that being said, Young wasn't the only reason for the team's lack of production.

The Eagles were made up of big-name acquisitions that didn't have a training camp because of the NFL lockout. Once the regular season started, as did unorganized football.

Philadelphia will no longer have to deal with a lot of those problems.

The majority of the team is the same as last season, which means the players have had time to play together. Furthermore, the skill position players are focused and healthy, which hasn't always been the case in the past.

Andy Reid has a large amount of tools at his disposal, and they should ultimately help to get Philadelphia into the playoffs. 

The NFC East Is Stronger Than Last Year

The Washington Redskins are a much improved team
The Washington Redskins are a much improved team
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A stronger NFC East means that reaching the playoffs will be harder for everyone involved.

That couldn't be a bigger positive for the Eagles.

The Washington Redskins are significantly better than last year.

The Dallas Cowboys look like they could live up to the huge potential that they seem to carry every year.

The New York Giants still look terrible for three-and-a-half quarters, but continue to find a way to win in the last six minutes.

Each team in the division plays each other twice. Therefore, if each team is more balanced, there is a smaller chance of any one team running the division and winning every game.

It felt like the Eagles were the clear favorite last season, and we all saw what happened. A more even division could work in their favor.

Philadelphia Has Something to Play for

Andy Reid just days after his son passed away
Andy Reid just days after his son passed away
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

At times, it feels like people turn an emotional story into more than it is.

That couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to what happened to Andy Reid this preseason.

Garrett Reid, son of head coach Andy Reid, passed away in his room at Eagles training camp this summer.

It felt like the Eagles were affected in some way, and "that way" will start to become more clear once the season progresses.

Before we know it, the playoffs will be on the line and it's possible that the Eagles could use what happened to Reid and his son as motivation.

Reid Has Always Been Successful in Philadelphia

A slightly younger Andy Reid in his first season with the Eagles in 1999
A slightly younger Andy Reid in his first season with the Eagles in 1999
Al Bello/Getty Images

Andy Reid has coached the NFC squad in four Pro Bowls.

For those who don't know, up until 2009, the losing coach of the NFC Championship Game went on to coach the conference in the All-Star game.

That means Reid has been one win from the Super Bowl on four occasions.

It truly is a tough pill to swallow for Philadelphia Eagles fans, but look at the bright side.

Reid has had 13 opportunities to make it to the NFC Championship Game and has successfully done so on five occasions. On one occasion, he was able to lead his squad to a Super Bowl appearance.

Reid knows what it takes for Philadelphia to get into the playoffs. He even knows what it takes to win games once he gets there, with an overall playoff record of 10-9.

You're not able to win 128 games with one organization if you haven't succeeded over the years. Reid has been there and his knowledge of how to get back is invaluable.

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