July 24, 2019
This time last year, as the Philadelphia Eagles headed into the 2018 season, one of the obvious concerns was whether or not the offensive staff under Doug Pederson would be able to create the same magic that they did during their Super Bowl run.
Because Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate in 2017, and he was still recovering from a torn ACL/LCL in 2018 (not to mention he would eventually be playing through a fractured bone in his back), there was a high probability that the Eagles were going to experience some sort of dip in offensive production.
But beyond Wentz, the Eagles lost offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who were instrumental in the formulation of game plans, especially in the red zone, on third downs, and in the scripting of first quarter plays.
As expected, the Eagles weren't as crisp offensively as they were the previous season, both on the "eye test" and in the stat sheet. What wasn't expected was that the downturn felt somewhat drastic at times. They were down in the following statistical areas from 2017 to 2018, some more significantly than others:
|Points per game||28.6||22.9|
|Yards per game||365.8||365.3|
|Red zone percentage||64.1%||59.0%|
|Time of possession||32:41||32:39|
|Third down percentage||44.7%||40.9%|
|Fourth down percentage||69.0%||62.5%|
|First quarter points per game||7.1||2.6|
In 2019, the Eagles' offense is loaded, and Pederson feels, on paper anyway, that he has the best set of skill position players he has had in his time coaching the team.
He also feels that Reich's replacement last season, Mike Groh, as well as other members of his staff, will be in a better position to succeed this year.
“Yeah, that was one of the things, you look back, Gunter Brewer, Carson Walch, Press Taylor, Mike Groh, Spencer Phillips – five positions on the offense that got moved around," Pederson noted. "Fast forward… and with a shortened offseason – Mike Groh being a first-time coordinator with a shortened offseason, and we’re trying to cram everything in leading into the season. It’s hard. It’s hard to do all that.
"But fast forward to this year, you’re seeing that stability, you’re seeing that growth. You’re seeing that understanding of the role, the position, the leadership ability of Mike with the offense and Press with the quarterbacks, Carson Walch obviously two years, but now first-time receivers coach. You’re seeing it on the practice field. And I think their stress level has come down, because things were moving fast. Even though for me, it was kind of normal, for them, it’s a rapid progression, a year ago. So you’re seeing that now… more under control, that leadership, things I saw in Year 2 with Frank and Flip.”
Asked in May how he feels going into Year 2 as the offensive coordinator, the always succinct Groh said, "Yeah, I'm really comfortable in it."
With a healthy Wentz, other personnel additions, and (to a lesser degree) the added comfort of the offensive staff in their roles, the offense should experience a big bump in production in many of the statistical areas in the chart above.
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