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January 03, 2018

Final Eagles 2017 drop tally

Eagles NFL
010318TorreySmith Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Torrey Smith led the Eagles in drops this season, with seven.

In 2015 and 2016, one of the biggest issues for the Philadelphia Eagles' lack of success was the play of the wide receivers, specifically, their penchant for dropping catchable passes.

For some reason, as heavily as the NFL is covered from a statistical metric standpoint, there are no reliable sources for drops. By my count, in watching every incompletion on the season, the Eagles dropped 43 passes in 2016. Still, while there are no good reliable sources for drops, it was widely recognized that the Eagles led the league in that category.

In 2017, the Eagles were better at catching the football.

While drops are subjective to some degree, the following is a representation of the number of drops by each Eagles player in 2017. We'll order them by number of drops, but the column to the far right shows the total drop percentage of what we'll refer to as "reasonably catchable passes," or drops divided by (drops plus catches). To be clear, that's not total targets, which I believe are a bad measure of drop percentage, seeing as the receiver often has no chance of catching some of those targets. Got it? No? Yes? Well whatever, here's what I came up with:

 PlayerDrops Catches Drop % of catchable passes 
 Torrey Smith36 16.3% 
 Nelson Agholor62 10.1% 
 Alshon Jeffery57 6.6% 
 Zach Ertz74 5.1% 
 Jay Ajayi (Eagles only)10 16.7% 
 Brent Celek13 13.3% 
 Mack Hollins16 12.5% 
Darren Sproles 12.5% 
Corey Clement 10 9.1% 
 Wendell Smallwood13 7.1% 
Trey Burton 23 4.2% 
 Others with no drops20 0% 
TOTAL 32 341 8.6% 

The following players with at least one reception had no drops:

  1. LeGarrette Blount: 8 catches
  2. Marcus Johnson: 5 catches
  3. Kenjon Barner: 5 catches
  4. Shelton Gibson: 2 catches

The Eagles' drop rate of 8.6 percent in 2017 was an improvement over 2016. Here's how the two seasons compared:

Year Drops Catches Drop % of catchable passes 
2016 43 380 10.2% 
2017 32 341 8.6% 

The improvement from 10.2 percent to 8.6 percent, was significant, but not drastic. The biggest drop offenders in 2017, as the chart above shows, were Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor, who each had seven drops on the season. 

However, the difference between those two players is that Agholor made more than his share of big plays, while Smith left a lot to be desired. A number of Smith's drops were egregious, like the one last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys that hit him in between the 8 and the 2, and likely would have gone for a score.

Without naming Smith specifically, Doug Pederson noted his frustration with that drop in his press conference on Tuesday.

"If we catch a third-down ball we're in the end zone the other night," he said.

In case you're wondering what the Eagles' drop tally looked like in 2016, here you go: 

 PlayerDrops Catches Drop % of catchable passes 
Dorial Green-Beckham 12 36 25% 
 Jordan Matthews73 9.9% 
 Nelson Agholor36 14.3% 
 Trey Burton37 9.8% 
 Darren Sproles52 7.1% 
 Kenjon Barner28.6% 
 Zach Ertz78 2.5% 
 Byron Marshall25% 
 Wendell Smallwood14.3% 
 Paul Turner10% 
 Ryan Mathews13 7.1% 
 Brent Celek14 6.7% 
Others with no drops 18 0% 
 TOTAL43 380 10.2% 


Smith is at least better at catching the football than Dorial Green-Beckham. So he has that going for him.

The following players with at least one reception had no drops:

  1. Josh Huff: 13 catches
  2. Bryce Treggs: 3 catches
  3. Carson Wentz: 1 catch
  4. Terrell Watson: 1 catch

While the Eagles' drop rate was notably improved in 2017, it is still an area where there's room to improve significantly in 2018 and beyond.


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