Thursday, February 11, 2016

State of the Eagles

In the weekly State of the Eagles post, I take a look at what we know about this team after three weeks.

State of the Eagles


Another Friday, another attempt to gauge the state of the Eagles.

This week, I wanted to take a look at the numbers through three games. How is the defensive line rotation shaping up? Who is Michael Vick targeting the most on third down? And others.

Let's start with the defense. Here's a chart that counts the percentage of plays for each defensive lineman through three games:

Player Percentage of snaps
Trent Cole 88.2%
Brandon Graham 68.0%
Trevor Laws 48.8%
Mike Patterson 47.8%
Brodrick Bunkley 39.9%
Juqua Parker 38.9%
Antwan Barnes 25.6%
Antonio Dixon 24.6%
Darryl Tapp 19.2%

What stands out here? Cole and Graham are the only two linemen to play at least 50 percent of the snaps. In other words, Sean McDermott's defensive line rotation is as alive as ever, with guys shuffling in and out quite a bit. This was even more the case against the Jaguars, presumably because of the high temperatures.

Graham played both inside and outside the first two games of the season, but I caught up with him this week, and he confirmed that last week, he was used exclusively at defensive end.

Juqua Parker has been extremely productive while playing less than 40 percent of the snaps. As I've mentioned before, he not only has four sacks of his own, but Parker's pressure has led to sacks by his teammates.

I'd be stunned if Barnes dressed on Sunday. Tapp played too well in his first action last week. Keep in mind that the two don't play the same role. If Barnes is on the field, it likely means Graham moves inside. If Tapp is on the field, he usually plays inside, and Graham or Parker line up at DE.


Here's a chart of how many times each Eagles defender has blitzed through three games:

Player Number of blitzes
Ernie Sims 30
Stewart Bradley 8
Nate Allen 8
Joselio Hanson 7
Quintin Mikell 7
Omar Gaither 5
Akeem Jordan 4
Asante Samuel 3
Moise Fokou 1
Dimitri Patterson 1
Ellis Hobbs 1

How about those numbers? Sims has blitzed 30 times, while no other player has blitzed more than eight. Hanson blitzes a couple times from the slot every game, and good things seem to happen when Allen blitzes.

The Eagles have commonly dropped linemen into coverage. Here's a look at who's dropping back the most:

Player No. of times dropping back
Trent Cole 10
Brandon Graham 6
Trevor Laws 4
Antwan Barnes 3
Juqua Parker 3
Antonio Dixon 1
Brodrick Bunkley 1

The defensive ends are most likely to drop back, although I'm not sure I'm ever in favor of taking an opportunity to rush the passer away from Cole. You'll notice, though, that McDermott will drop the defensive tackles back in coverage also from time to time.

Graham got his hands on a pass last week. He's said since training camp that he wants an interception this season.

Overall, the defense has gone with its base package of three linebackers and four defensive backs 43 percent of the time. They've been in nickel (two LBs, five DBs) 51 percent of the time. Kurt Coleman has been in at times as a third safety and sixth defensive back. And the team has gone to short-yardage/goal-line too, making up for the remaining six percent.


Here's a look at offensive personnel packages:

Personnel Package Percentage used
1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE 41.6%
2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE 25.2%
1 RB, 2 WR, 2 TE 10.1%
1 RB, 4 WR 8.4%
2 RB, 3 WR 8.4%
4 WR, 1 TE 4.5%
2 RB, 1 WR, 2 TE 1.7%
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Per the Football Outsiders Almanac, the Eagles went with three or more receivers 65 percent of the time last season. Very similar tendencies through three games. That number is right around 63 percent.

Last year, the Eagles went with four receivers 13 percent of the time. Again, very similar through three games at 12.9 percent.

There's no denying that Michael Vick's performance on third down has been key to his success. The Eagles' most-targeted receiver on third down has been DeSean Jackson. He's been targeted nine times and has caught five balls for 119 yards on third down. Jason Avant and Brent Celek are tied for second with five targets each, and Jeremy Maclin is fourth with three targets.

The red zone is a different story. Only two Eagles have caught balls in the red zone: Maclin and LeSean McCoy. McCoy's two catches have been for -4 yards. Maclin has been targeted three times in the red zone. All three have been completions for 42 yards and three touchdowns.

Against the blitz, Jackson is the most-targeted receiver. He's been targeted 11 times and caught seven balls for 155 yards against the blitz.

On pass plays, Vick is operating out of the shotgun 69 percent of the time and under center 31 percent of the time. Outside of the pocket, he's completed 12 of 16 passes for 182 yards.


Much more to come in the next two days as we count down to Donovan McNabb's return. I'll have some notes on the Redskins, a roundup of who's picking the Eagles and other links to pass along.
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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for 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 or by clicking here

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