Saturday, December 27, 2014

Five Eagles numbers that matter

I'll try to roll this feature out every Monday between now and training camp.

Five Eagles numbers that matter

LeSean McCoy led all NFL running backs with 50 broken tackles last season. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
LeSean McCoy led all NFL running backs with 50 broken tackles last season. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

I'll try to roll this feature out every Monday between now and training camp.

Here are five Eagles numbers that matter:

50 - That's the number of broken tackles by LeSean McCoy last season, according to Football Outsiders' charting numbers - the most of any player in the NFL. Normally, the running back is supposed to buy gifts for his offensive linemen after a successful year. But clearly, McCoy did his part in making his line look good, often shaking off and juking defenders behind the line of scrimmage or in the open field, while picking up giant chunks of yardage.

Football Outsiders also charted broken tackles per touch. McCoy ranked fourth among running backs, behind the Titans' Javon Ringer, Pittsburgh's Isaac Redman and Buffalo's Fred Jackson, breaking a tackle on 15.6 percent of his overall touches (carries and receptions). In 2010, McCoy broke a tackle on 13.3 percent of his touches.

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As a team, the Eagles broke a tackle on 8.4 percent of their offensive plays last year, the highest mark in the league. In addition to McCoy, Michael Vick did his part, tying Tim Tebow for the lead among quarterbacks with 22 broken tackles, 17 of which were behind the line of scrimmage.

8.1 - The percentage of plays in which the Eagles' defense missed a tackle, according to Football Outsiders. That ranked second-to-last, behind only the Bucs (9.0 percent). No other team had a mark higher than 6.5 percent. For all the time Juan Castillo spent talking about fundamentals at practice, the results did not show during the games. Brian Rolle and Nate Allen were tagged with 10 missed tackles apiece. Among linebackers with a minimum of 50 tackles, Tampa's Quincy Black was the worst with a missed tackle rate of 17.2 percent. However, Rolle didn't qualify because he was only credited with 44 tackles. If he had been eligible, he would have been worse than Black with an 18.5 percent missed tackle rate. I like Rolle and think he was actually one of the team's better linebackers last year, but that number is alarming.

Allen, meanwhile, had a missed tackle rate of 17.9 percent, fifth-worst among defensive backs. Not good for a free safety who is often the last line of defense on big plays.

As a point of reference, 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis missed a tackle just 2.4 percent of the time, and Chicago's Brian Urlacher was at 3.2 percent. It's worth nothing that a couple former Eagles linebackers - Joe Mays (12.0 percent) and Chris Gocong (11.9 percent) - were among the worst tacklers in the league.

68.7 - The percentage of defensive snaps played by Trent Cole last season, according to Pro Football Focus (not including the two games he missed because of injury). Quite a dropoff from the previous season when Cole played 89.4 percent of the snaps. When we talk about Jim Washburn's rotation, this is what we're referring to. All four starters - Cole, Jason Babin, Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins - played between 61.6 and 68.7 percent of the defensive snaps. That leaves a lot of playing time for the reserves in the eight-man rotation, which figures to include first-round pick Fletcher Cox and second-round pick Vinny Curry.

As for Cole, overall, he played 323 fewer snaps than he did in 2010. And he definitely looked fresh at the end of the season. In his final four games, Cole totaled 27 tackles, five sacks and 14 quarterback hurries.

33.5 - The percentage of snaps played by No. 2 tight end Clay Harbor last season, up from 28.6 percent the previous season. How was Harbor used?

Run Blocker Receiver Pass Blocker
56.1% 32.0% 11.9%

Harbor was mostly used as a run blocker. He went out into a pass route 32 percent of the time, and Harbor was targeted just 19 times (eighth-most on the team), finishing with 13 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown.

I thought the Eagles might take a shot on a tight end in the middle rounds of the draft, but they did not. Brent Celek and Vick built a great chemistry in the second half of last season, but it'll be interesting to see if the Eagles have plans to get Harbor more involved in the passing game in 2012.

66.1 - Jeremy Maclin's receiving yards per game, a career-high for the Eagles' former first-round pick. Calculated over a 16-game season, that equates to 1,058 receiving yards, but Maclin missed three games. His catches per game and receiving yards per game have increased in each of his first three seasons, while Maclin's yards per catch has held steady between 13.6 and 13.9.

Maclin has been the Eagles' most effective red-zone receiver too. He had eight catches for 48 yards and four touchdowns inside the opponents' 20 last season. In 2010, Maclin had 11 red-zone catches for 104 yards and seven touchdowns.

He's signed through 2013, so the Eagles will have to make a decision on Maclin in the next two seasons. They'll have to figure out how to manage how Maclin's potential new deal compares to the one DeSean Jackson received this offseason.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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