State of the Eagles: Playing time and personnel

The Eagles' roster has undergone changes on a weekly basis since the season started.

The most recent move was the Mike Bell/Jerome Harrison trade on Wednesday.

With that being said, I wanted to take a look at playing time and personnel packages through five games. Let's start with the offense.

Here's a breakdown of the percentage of plays for running backs, wide receivers and tight ends:

Running Backs Percentage of snaps
LeSean McCoy 84%
Owen Schmitt 23%
Mike Bell 14%
Eldra Buckley 5%
Leonard Weaver 2%


Wide Receivers Percentage of snaps
Jeremy Maclin 99%
DeSean Jackson 93%
Jason Avant 67%
Riley Cooper 9%
Chad Hall 3%


Tight Ends Percentage of snaps
Brent Celek 87%
Garrett Mills 11%
Clay Harbor 2%

As I wrote about earlier this week, McCoy's been on the field for 84 percent of the snaps. McCoy has been very good and can line up in the backfield or out wide. Throw in the fact that the Eagles got no production from Bell, and it's easy to see why he's been on the field so much. It'll be interesting to see how much (if any) his playing time decreases now that Harrison is in the fold.

Maclin's played all but four snaps this season - the most of any of the skill position players. Jackson, of course, missed some time last game with the second-half injury. Avant has played two-thirds of the snaps. He was the second receiver when Jackson was sidelined against the Niners. Cooper didn't play in Week 5, and Hall has only been active for one game.

The tight end numbers are not surprising. Harbor is no longer active on gamedays, and I don't really see that changing unless Celek or Mills gets injured.

Here is a breakdown of the personnel packages the Eagles have utilized:

Offensive personnel Percentage of time used
1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE 47%
2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE 26%
1 RB, 2 WR, 2 TE 10%
2 RB, 3 WR 6%
1 RB, 4 WR 6%
4 WR, 1 TE 4%
2 RB, 1 WR, 2 TE 1%
3 WR, 2 TE <1%

The 1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE package continues to be the Eagles' most popular choice.

Last week, against the 49ers, the Eagles went with 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE on 40 percent of their offensive plays. In the first four weeks, that package was only used 22 percent of the time. Schmitt was on the field for 40 percent of the plays against San Francisco.

On the season, the Eagles have used two running back sets about 33 percent of the time. They've gone with two tight ends on about 11 percent of the snaps.

Injuries play a factor here. Against the Redskins, Cooper went down early, and the Eagles only had three receivers to use for three quarters of the game. Weaver went down in Week 1, and the Eagles didn't have a backup fullback on the roster.


The defensive line rotation has been a much discussed topic on MTC since training camp. Here's the breakdown of playing time:

Player Percentage of snaps
Trent Cole 89%
Brandon Graham 63%
Mike Patterson 52%
Trevor Laws 47%
Juqua Parker 43%
Brodrick Bunkley 36%
Antonio Dixon 28%
Darryl Tapp 26%
Antwan Barnes 16%

Cole's number was affected last week when he had to leave the game for a stretch in the second half with an injury. Graham has played 63 percent of the snaps, but he played only 38 percent last week. Parker, meanwhile, has played 43 percent of the snaps, but was on the field for nearly 70 percent of them last week when he got the start.

With Bunkley's status unknown, Dixon figures to see a bump in the immediate future. And Laws also. Barnes is no longer on the roster.

The linebacker numbers are not of much use since Stewart Bradley missed a game due to injury, and Moise Fokou filled in for Akeem Jordan last week, but here's a look anyway:

Player Percentage of snaps
Ernie Sims 88%
Stewart Bradley 65%
Akeem Jordan 42%
Omar Gaither 32%
Moise Fokou 9%
JaMar Chaney 3%

Sims has played 88 percent of the overall snaps, but that number was down slightly to 76 percent last week against the 49ers as Sean McDermott went with an extra defensive back and one linebacker on several occasions.

Bradley played every snap against San Francisco, but did not play well. We'll see if McDermott spells him in certain packages going forward.

Fokou figures to play the strong-side position in place of Jordan once again vs. the Falcons.

The Eagles have been in their base defense (3 LBs, 4 DBs) 46 percent of the time. They've been in the nickel (2 LBs, 5 DBs) 44 percent of the time. The other 10 percent has been dime (1 LB, 6 DBs) or short-yardage/goal line.


Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg and McDermott will continue to adjust playing time and personnel packages based on performance. Several questions still remain on that front. On offense, how does Harrison fit in? Are there packages that will have both him and McCoy on the field at the same time? Will Schmitt's strong performance earn him more playing time? Will Cooper get on the field more as the season progresses?

Defensively, I wouldn't be surprised if the line rotation changes on a weekly basis, based on who's playing well. McDermott's shown in the last two years that he makes moves based on performance. Too often, that's simply meant a guy playing so poorly that he has to be benched, but McDermott is not worried about bruised egos.

Will the Eagles use an extra defensive back and one linebacker more like they did last week? Will that linebacker be Bradley?

Those are some things to keep an eye on as the Eagles take on four opponents in the next stretch that are a combined 13-7 so far.

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