Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Westbrook question, offensive personnel

Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann made an interesting argument in his column a week ago, before the Eagles traveled to Dallas and got smoked by the Cowboys.

The Westbrook question, offensive personnel

Brian Westbrook (left) was on the field for half as many snaps as LeSean McCoy in the Eagles´ loss to the Cowboys. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Brian Westbrook (left) was on the field for half as many snaps as LeSean McCoy in the Eagles' loss to the Cowboys. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann made an interesting argument in his column a week ago, before the Eagles traveled to Dallas and got smoked by the Cowboys.

Hofmann argued that we would be able to learn a lot about the future from the way Marty Morhninweg and Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick against the Cowboys in the wild-card playoff game.

The Westbrook situation has been well-detailed. If the Eagles are to keep him on board under his current contract, they would owe him $7.5M. Westbrook will turn 31 before the start of next season, and he had just 61 carries this past year while suffering a pair of concussions.

If Hofmann's theory proves right, we've probably seen the last of Westbrook in an Eagles uniform. Of course, there's always the possibility that the Eagles and Westbrook could work something out in terms of his contract to reduce the $7.5M number.

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In our Stay or Go feature, 63 percent of you voted that it's time for the Eagles to let him go.

I charted the Eagles' offensive snaps, and while I know you've probably put the loss behind you, I wanted to share the information anyway.

Westbrook was on the field for 16 snaps, McCoy 32 and Weaver 21. But as I explained earlier this week, 14 of McCoy's plays were in the final three possessions of the game. If you take away the Eagles' final two possessions during "garbage time" the numbers were: McCoy (22), Weaver (19) and Westbrook (16).

In terms of touches, Weaver had seven, McCoy six and Westbrook one.

Any way you look at it, the fact that Westbrook, one of the greatest playmakers this franchise has ever seen, had the ball in his hands just once in a playoff game is telling. But maybe more telling is that I've heard no fans or media members argue that the Eagles would have had a better chance against Dallas had Westbrook been more involved.

As for the offensive personnel packages, the Eagles used 19 different combinations against the Cowboys. The most common was a one running-back, three-receiver, one tight-end set of McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek, which was featured 18 times. Here are the rest of the combinations:

Westbrook, Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Celek (11)
Weaver, Jackson, Maclin, Celek, Alex Smith (6)
Weaver, McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, Avant (4)
Weaver, McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, Celek (3)
Weaver, Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Celek (2)
McCoy, Westbrook, Jackson, Maclin, Celek (2)
McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Smith (1)
Weaver, McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, Smith (1)
Vick, McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, Smith (1)
McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Brown (1)
Weaver, Buckley, Avant, Celek, Smith (1)
Weaver, Jackson, Brown, Celek, Smith (1)
Weaver, Westbrook, Jackson, Brown, Celek (1)
Westbrook, Jackson, Maclin, Celek, Smith (1)
Weaver, Westbrook, Jackson, Maclin, Avant (1)
Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Brown, Celek (1)
Vick, Weaver, McCoy, Jackson, Celek (1)
McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, Celek, Smith (1)

The two most-common personnel packages were the same as in the Week 17 game, except in that matchup they were reversed. The package with Westbrook, three receivers and a TE was the most popular, and the package with McCoy was the second-most used.

Here are percentages of plays by personnel grouping:

57 percent - 1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE
15.5 percent - 1 RB, 2 WR, 2 TE
13.8 percent - 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE
8.6 percent - 2 RB, 3 WR

No other grouping was used more than once. Initially, I thought they went with two tight ends more than in Week 17, but that was not the case. Celek and Smith were on the field together 10 times, the same number as the previous week.

Brown played four snaps. And Vick played three.
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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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