Final look: How McDermott measured up

Yesterday, I took a look at how Sean McDermott's defenses fared against the pass compared to the Eagles' defenses from 2004-08, the five years before he took over.

I was initially going to make it a three-part post, but with McDermott already joining the Panthers as their defensive coordinator, we can wrap things up today and look ahead.

Below is a look at how the Eagles measured up in 2009 and 2010 with McDermott running the show, compared to the previous five years. We'll start with the run defense. The number in parentheses is average league rank.

Rushing YPG
Rushing YPC
112.2 (14.8)
4.0 (11.4)
107.6 (12th)
4.2 (12th)

As you can see, the numbers are pretty similar. The Eagles actually allowed fewer rush yards per game under McDermott than they did from '04 to '08, but it was close. Teams were slightly more effective running the ball the last two years though, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The Eagles limited opponents to under 4.0 yards per carry in three of five seasons from '04 to '08. Under McDermott, they were over 4.0 yards per carry in both 2009 and 2010.

And here are some other defensive stats:

3rd down pct.
Penalty Yds.
4.9 (8.6)
35.2 (7.2)
785.4 (14.2)
311.8 (12.2)
19.6 (11.4)
5.1 (9)
35.5 (7.5)
756.5 (14)
324.2 (12)
22.4 (20)

The first column is yards per play. As you can see, the numbers are almost identical. Same goes for third-down defense, which is surprising. I would have definitely guessed that the Eagles had gotten worse in that category the last couple seasons, but they really didn't.

The Eagles were much better in terms of takeaways the last two seasons, averaging 10 more than they did from 2004-08. The Eagles forced 38 turnovers under McDermott in 2009 and 34 in 2010. The Birds had no more than 29 takeaways in a given season from 2004-08.

Penalties were surprising too. The Eagles actually were charged with more penalty yards on defense (on average) in the five years before McDermott was the defensive coordinator.

The Eagles allowed more yards overall under McDermott, but when you look at league rank, it was almost identical, likely reflecting more yards allowed by defenses league-wide in the past two seasons.

But the final column tells the story and reflects the Eagles' historically bad red-zone defense. The difference isn't exactly enormous, but the Eagles allowed 2.8 more points per game under McDermott than they did the previous five seasons. From 2004-08, the Eagles finished in the top 10 in scoring defense three times. They finished 21st and 19th the past two seasons.

On Tuesday, we'll officially look ahead and examine how some of the candidates being mentioned for the Eagles' defensive coordinator job fared in that role previously. And some time this week, I'll take an in-depth look at how the Birds' draft misses on the defensive side of the ball have gotten them to where they are now.

If you missed my post from earlier, I recapped some interesting comments made by Michael Vick during a TV interview that aired over the weekend.

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