December 31, 2019
The Eagles are playoff bound, which is a common phrase in Philly as the Birds have made the postseason with some regularity over the last two decades — but the manner in which they made it is anything but common.
With so many injuries and so few conventionally successful stat metrics to explain their playoff run, we looked a little deeper into some off-the-beaten-path explanations and odd statistics and for their NFC East title and came away with 10 very interesting numbers.
Take a look:
For more details on this one (and a delightful series of stick figure drawings), Jimmy Kempski breaks down the ridiculous 54 transactions Boston Scott, Greg Ward, Rob Davis, Deontay Burnett and Josh Perkins went through en route to playing together in Week 17. It's impossible to recap the 2019 season without acknowledging how snake-bitten the Eagles' skill players were this season. And yet...
Somehow, Carson Wentz set a franchise record for completions this year, despite throwing just 91 of them (23%) to the his top three receivers (DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor). Equally impressive is Wentz' Eagles-record 4,039 passing yards this season.
In 16 games, the Eagles had seven different players lead the team in receiving yards — and only four times during the year was it a wide receiver. By comparison, each of the other NFC playoff teams, except for Minnesota, had four different single-game receiving yard leaders, and the Vikings had five.
The Eagles had the third best rushing defense in football — and it would have been the second best if not for Saquon Barkley's 68-yard touchdown run in Week 17. Just five times during the regular season have the Birds allowed 100 or more rushing yards. In eight of their nine wins they allowed 101 yards or less (the exception being against New York last week).
The Eagles also interestingly only allowed 22.1 total runs per game from the opposing offense, third fewest in the NFL. This number is interesting and implies that the Eagles had a lot of leads in games this season and that isn't exactly true. It also implies that their pass defense was pretty awful, and it kind of was, as they were 19th in yards allowed and were very vulnerable down field as they had an inconsistent secondary (to say the least). Which is why opponents threw the ball 63.5% of the time, third highest in the NFL.
The Eagles scored touchdowns on two thirds of their red zone scoring chances in 2019, just around 2.2 per game. That number puts them third in all of football, only behind playoff teams in Baltimore and Tennessee. The Eagles were known for their long, time-consuming drives this year (more on that in a bit), which led them to have a lot of red zone chances. They cashed in on these and it's one of the reasons they're still playing.
That's the most of any team in the NFL this year. It's interesting to think about how many reps the offense got, and how few of the offense's opening day starters got to get them. Still, this number is impressive because it directly implies that...
...Philadelphia was second in the NFL in time of possession (and actually first in the NFL in first-half time of possession). They trail just the run-happy Ravens. The reason for the Eagles' domination in time of possession, as we explored earlier this season, stems from their lack of explosive weapons on offense (aside from Miles Sanders of course, the NFL's top scrimmage-gaining rookie). Doug Pederson deserves a lot of credit for adapting and finding a way to turn his ragtag skill players into NFC East champions. He methodically paved the way for Philly to patch together 23 10-play scoring drives this season.
Despite Wentz setting several team records, the Eagles were 26th in the NFL in both yards per attempt and yards per completion in the pass game. This kind of lines up with the above statistic, with the Eagles boasting very few big play threats and were dinking and dunking quite a bit.
The Eagles defense was actually really good between the 20s — and demonstrated this by them allowing just 2.7 red zone attempts per game (the third fewest in the league) and 1.5 red zone scores per game (sixth best). The offense's dominant time of possession helped the defense too, as they were on the field less and therefore allowed only 18.1 first downs per game (fifth best).
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