As we approach the final four games of the season, here's a look at 10 Eagles numbers to ponder.
43 - The number of "big-play" runs by LeSean McCoy, defined by STATS.com as runs of 10 yards or more. That leads the NFL, and it’s not even close. Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ben Tate are tied for second with 29 apiece. To put that into perspective, McCoy is averaging a run of 10+ yards once every five carries. He's currently 3 yards behind Jones-Drew for the league lead in rushing, and McCoy needs to average 94.5 yards per game in the final four to tie Wilbert Montgomery's single-season franchise record of 1,512 yards set in 1979.
0 - The number of fumbles by McCoy this season. Hard to believe, huh? It seems that every game the announcers (fairly) question how McCoy holds the football out away from his body. Yet, among the 22 running backs who have carried the ball at least 150 times this season, only McCoy, Cedric Benson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are fumble-free.
743 - The number of snaps played by McCoy this season, according to Pro Football Focus. That's the most of any running back in the NFL. Ray Rice is second with 647. Even though McCoy's pass blocking has taken a step back as of late, he's been too good to take off the field this season. In the offseason, the Eagles will have to decide whether to give Dion Lewis the backup role in 2012 or add a veteran running back. But keep in mind, the backup to McCoy won't see much action unless he gets injured.
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4 - Number of red-zone interceptions thrown by Michael Vick, tied for the league-lead with Josh Freeman. The Eagles' offense has actually taken a step back in red-zone efficiency this season. They are scoring touchdowns 47.06 percent of the time, which ranks 21st league-wide and is a dropoff from 2010 (52.46 percent). Vick has not run for a touchdown all season and has completed just 50 percent of his red-zone pass attempts.
11 - Number of 40+ yard pass plays allowed by the Eagles, tied for most in the NFL. The Eagles have given up 22 passing touchdowns, tied for second-most. And opposing QBs have a 91.4 rating. That’s a worse mark than last year (80.8). Who would have thought that they would replace Dimitri Patterson with Nnamdi Asomugha, add Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, improve the defensive line, blitz less and still be an easier team to pass against than they were in 2010?
7 - Where the Eagles' defense ranks in sack rate, per Football Outsiders. The ranking takes into account pass-rushing opportunities and other factors. Overall, the Eagles are tied for fifth with 33 sacks. Last year, they ranked fifth in sack rate and had 39 sacks overall. The difference? Last year, the defensive line accounted for 79.5 percent of the sacks and 71.6 percent of the hurries. This year, the defensive line has accounted for 93.9 percent of the sacks and 96.2 percent of hurries. In other words, while the defense overall has had plenty of failures, the goal of getting to the quarterback without blitzing is one area where they've actually been successful.
9 - Where the Eagles' offense ranks in adjusted sack rate, according to Football Outsiders. The Eagles have allowed 21 sacks all season, tied for fifth-fewest. Last year, they gave up 49 sacks, fourth-most and ranked 28th in sack rate. The Eagles have allowed 53 QB hits, tied for 10th-fewest. Howard Mudd's unit has actually done a pretty good job of protecting the quarterback. And in the run game, they rank first in the NFL in second-level and open-field blocking, according to Football Outsiders. The Birds are set at tackle with Jason Peters and Todd Herremans. They need Danny Watkins and Jason Kelce to develop. And they should re-sign Evan Mathis. If those things fall into place, they could return the same five starters in 2012, and the offensive line could actually be a strength, rather than a question mark.
9 - The number of drops by DeSean Jackson, tied for fourth-most in the league. As I explained last week, Jackson's drops have gone up considerably since the start of the 2010 season. He's being targeted about 7.4 times per game, which is up from last year (6.9). But Jackson is dropping catchable passes at a higher rate than ever.
22 - The number of interceptions thrown by Eagles quarterbacks this season, most in the NFL. Vick, Vince Young and Mike Kafka have been picked off once every 19.6 pass attempts. Last year, Eagles quarterbacks were intercepted 13 times total and once every 43.2 attempts. Overall, the Eagles lead the league with 29 giveaways, and they are tied for last with a -13 turnover differential. That, more than anything else, tells the story of the offensive struggles.
70.59 - The percentage that opposing offenses score touchdowns in the red zone against the Eagles. It looks like that will likely be dead-last in the NFL for the second straight season, although the Colts (69.77 percent) are only slightly better. Last year, the Eagles allowed touchdowns 78.26 percent of the time. It's amazing that this could be such a huge problem two years ago with almost no improvement.
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