Before we get to this week's numbers, please take note that the 2012 Eagles Almanac is available for purchase today.
The publication offers a variety of analysis, commentary and more - a must-read for any Birds fan who is counting down the days to Lehigh.
My personal contribution was a 3,000+ word analysis of what went wrong for Michael Vick in 2011 and what we should expect from the Eagles quarterback in 2012.
If you give it a read, please let me know what you think.
Now on to this week's five Eagles numbers that matter:
453 - The number of snaps played by defensive tackle Antonio Dixon back in 2010, according to Pro Football Focus. It seems like a long time ago, but Dixon was one of the Eagles' best defensive players that year. Last season, he played just 86 snaps in the first four games, before suffering a season-ending torn triceps injury.
The Eagles added defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in the first round of the draft and re-signed veteran Derek Landri, who played very well last season. Add in Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, and defensive tackle is one of the deepest areas on the roster.
But what does that mean for Dixon? In limited action last year, he didn't appear to be as effective in Jim Washburn's scheme. Assuming Cox, Jenkins and Patterson are locks to make the roster, that leaves Dixon, Landri and Cedric Thornton likely fighting for two roster spots. And keep in mind, if everyone's healthy, the fifth defensive tackle will be inactive on gamedays. About 18 months after wrapping up a breakout season, Dixon will be fighting for a job at Lehigh. As they say, that's life in the NFL.
12 - The number of snaps Kurt Coleman played in Week 3 last year, before being benched against the Giants.
I'm not trying to pick on Coleman, but when the Eagles signed veteran safety O.J. Atogwe last week, they sold it as purely a depth move. It may turn out to be just that. After all, Atogwe was released by the Redskins, battled injuries last year and hadn't caught on to an NFL roster until last week.
But the notion that the Eagles are so content with their safeties that they wouldn't even give Atogwe a chance to earn a starting job doesn't add up to me. I'm sure the Eagles like Coleman's work ethic and knowledge of the defense. But in the end, it comes down to production.
We'll find out in training camp how the Eagles plan to use their safeties in 2012. Atogwe has played more free safety, while Coleman has been a strong safety. But with the emphasis of the Eagles' defense being on stopping the pass, Atogwe could get on the field if he proves he's superior in coverage.
For thoughts on the rest of the safety picture, including Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett, check out my post from last week.
3 - The number of times Vick fumbled in his final 10 games last season (and one of those was on the exchange with Jason Kelce). Overall, he fumbled 10 times, but the good news for fans is that seven of those came in the Eagles' first three games. In terms of protecting the football, Vick actually did appear to improve as the season went on.
As I've emphasized several times in this space, anyone expecting Vick to drastically change his style of play is going to be disappointed. He makes a lot of plays with his legs, and that's not going to stop. One area where he can improve is protecting the football when he breaks the pocket. Four of Vick's 10 fumbles last year occurred when he was scrambling or running. He needs to get in full running-back mode at that point and tuck the ball away.
17 - The percentage of pass plays in which Eagles opponents used play-action last year, according to Football Outsiders. The league average was 19 percent, and only six teams saw a lower percentage of play-action passes than the Eagles.
But when opponents did run play-action, they had success against the Eagles. Football Outsiders' main stat is DVOA, which measures success compared to the league average, given a set of variables. Their numbers show that offenses posted a -5.8% DVOA on non play-action passes against the Eagles. In other words, the Birds were good at defending the pass in those situations. But against play-action, opponents posted a 14.6% DVOA, better than the league average.
A lot of play-action comes down to discipline by the linebackers and safeties. Considering the Eagles' early struggles against the run and the defensive line's rush-the-passer at all costs mentality, it's not surprising that the linebackers and safeties were fooled on play-action throws.
20 - Years since the death of Eagles great Jerome Brown. Rich Hofmann of the Daily News did an excellent job today, writing about Brown's life and his career.
I was only 9 at the time, but was already football-obsessed and remember the feeling of sadness when I heard the news.
In addition to Rich's piece, we've got a collection of Brown photos and former teammates offering up their memories of him. Feel free to offer up your own in the space below.
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