A few different things to get to today.
Let's start with the part I enjoy the most - football, the actual game being played on the field.
Football Outsiders took a look at which teams ran the draw most effectively last year, and which teams defended the draw the best.
Let's start with the offenses. As soon as I saw the article, my guess was that the Eagles would rank near the bottom of the league in number of draws run last year. I barely remember them running any. Maybe once in awhile at the end of a half when they were trying to run the clock out.
The numbers show the Eagles ran 20 draws last season. Only six teams had fewer. But what about percentage of draws? The article shows the Eagles had 301 rushing attempts by running backs last year, the lowest number in the league, meaning they ran draws on 7 percent of their running plays. Surprisingly, that percentage put them right around the middle of the pack (18th).
And then there's the issue of effectiveness. The Eagles averaged 3.4 yards per carry on draws, putting them at 30th in the league.
What about the Birds' success at defending the draw?
Only three defenses faced more draws than the Eagles, who had 42 run against them. The Birds saw draws on 11 percent of run plays from opposing offenses. Only four defenses saw a higher percentage.
On those draws, offenses averaged 5.8 yards per carry, putting the Eagles' defense at No. 24.
It's also interesting to note that no offense ran more draws than the Cowboys, the team that ended the Birds' season. Dallas ran draws on 20 percent of their run plays (77 overall) and averaged 4.6 yards per carry on those plays. In the Week 17 matchup, Felix Jones and Marion Barber combined for 182 yards on 29 carries. In the playoff game, Dallas piled up 198 rushing yards on 35 carries. In the two games, the Cowboys' running backs had carries of 32, 49 and 73 yards. I did some digging, but can't figure out which of the big runs came on draws though.
Anyway, just something to keep in mind as the Eagles sort out their defensive line rotation and figure out how to better compete with the Cowboys.
WHERE THE EAGLES SPEND
The Football Outsiders guys provide a lot of good material for chatter this time of year. Here's another item from them.
Friend to the blog Bill Barnwell took a look at which teams spent the most and the least at each position in 2009. The Eagles were low spenders in two areas: tight end and defensive line. The Eagles of course awarded Brent Celek with an eight-year, $34M deal, but that didn't count against last year's number.
Along the defensive line, the Eagles were the only team to spend less than $10M. As Barnwell points out, they can partly thank the low figure for Trent Cole for that.
Some quick thoughts on the Michael Vick situation.
First off, the Eagles have to assess his value to their team on the field. In other words, if Vick had DeSean Jackson's skill set, then the Eagles would be more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt. You may not like it, but not every player is treated the same.
If you believe that the Eagles tried to unload Vick this offseason, but did not see a deal they liked, then it makes sense that they'd be more likely to cut ties with him.
I remember when Andy Reid closed down OTAs, he spoke glowingly about Vick and how he was picking things up in his second season here. But it's smart to trust your eyes over what Reid says, and Vick seemed pretty inconsistent to me at practices. As I mentioned at the time, the thought did occur to me that Reid was hoping to pump Vick up in hopes that a QB-needy team would make a play for him in the coming months.
The latest incident, regardless of how much blame you put on Vick, pretty much squashes any chance the Eagles had at building up his reputation and getting a team to trade for him.
And finally, the Kevin Kolb factor. If there's any good coming out of this nonsense, it's that the spotlight is off Kolb, for a little while at least. Will that change? Probably. But take a step back. The 2010 season really is all about Kolb as he enters his first season as a starter and ushers in the new era of Eagles football. But with every Vick story and every article about DeSean Jackson's contract, a small piece of attention gets taken off of Kolb.
I think that's a good thing.