Five Eagles numbers that matter

For the most part, teams stayed away from throwing at Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha last season. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Here are this week's five Eagles numbers that matter:

10.2 - Michael Vick's average yards per carry on "improvised" runs when he got past the line of scrimmage last season. In other words, these were called pass plays where Vick left the pocket and ran. By my count, Vick carried 53 times for 538 yards on designed pass plays. The 10.2 yards per carry number is a huge one. To put it into perspective, Aaron Rodgers led the NFL, averaging 9.2 yards per pass attempt. But there's a catch. Vick was also sacked 23 times for -126 yards. Those were the plays when either he took off and didn't get past the line of scrimmage, or the pressure just got to him in the pocket.

Overall, the offense gained 5.4 yards per play on the 76 occasions in which Vick dropped back but never attempted a pass. That number is lower than his 7.8 yards per attempt average. Vick's decision-making on when to take off and run and when to get rid of the football will be something he'll have to continue to perfect until his career is over, and especially something to keep an eye on in 2012.

6.3 - The percentage of plays in which opposing quarterbacks targeted Nnamdi Asomugha in coverage last season. Asomugha had a disappointing debut season with the Eagles, but if you're looking for a positive, this is it. According to Pro Football Focus, he was in coverage on 571 pass plays, and according to Football Outsiders, he was targeted just 36 times. Here's how those numbers compared to a couple other cornerbacks - Asante Samuel and Darrelle Revis:

  Pass Plays in Coverage
Total Targets Target %
Nnamdi Asomugha 571 36 6.3%
Darrelle Revis 582 81 13.9%
Asante Samuel 483 61 12.6%

Much of the criticism directed at Asomugha focuses on what happened when quarterbacks threw at him. And the results there were not pretty. Per Football Outsiders, he allowed 9.0 yards per pass attempt, the highest number of any Eagles cornerback last season. But it's important to also note what happened when team's didn't throw at Asomugha - those plays in which he presumably had good coverage.

As you can see above, quarterbacks were far more likely to throw at Revis or Samuel last season. Asomugha needs to do a better job of making plays when the ball is thrown his way, but his coverage skills were still good last season, according to the numbers.

73 - Brent Celek's catch rate (percentage) in the final 10 games last season. Catch rate simply measures catches per targets. It's not a great stat to illustrate how well a receiver (or tight end) is playing, but it can show how well a quarterback and receiver are connecting. In his final 10 games, Celek caught 49 of the 67 passes thrown his way. Had he been able to sustain that rate for an entire season, it would have ranked tied for first with Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates among tight ends who were targeted at least 50 times. Overall, Celek finished with a catch rate of 64 percent, up from 53 percent in 2010. He also set a career high, averaging 13.1 yards per catch.

It's probably also worth mentioning that Celek had two offseason surgeries - one for a sports hernia and the other for a torn labrum in his left hip.

All things considered, Celek probably wasn't credited enough for his 2011 performance. At 27 years old, and under contract through 2016, Celek will be an important part of this offense for years to come.

3 - Where the Eagles' defense ranked at covering opposing tight ends last season, according to Football Outsiders. I still frequently hear that this team had trouble covering tight ends last season, and it's simply not true. The Eagles allowed 45 yards per game to tight ends, well below the league average of 53.8.

Part of the reason for that success was putting Asomugha inside on tight ends, like Jason Witten. Another part was that they blitzed less and had more players in coverage. With offseason changes at linebacker and cornerback, we'll see how Juan Castillo chooses to deal with tight ends in 2012, but this was not an issue last season.

5.9 - LeSean McCoy's average yards per carry in the fourth quarter the past two seasons (110 carries for 654 yards). The formula in 2011 was supposed to be this: Get a big lead. Unleash the pass rush. And run the ball effectively late when necessary.

The issues? The Eagles' offense turned the ball over too much. And while the defense did a good job getting to the quarterback, it couldn't make up for other issues, like stopping opponents late in games.

But getting back to McCoy, he became more effective as the game went on. He was outstanding in the fourth quarter and has shown he can be the "closer" the Eagles need when they want to run clock and keep their defense off the field late in games.

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