The Philadelphia Eagles' Most Intriguing Preseason Stats so Far
The legendary Mark Twain once said, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.” Twain must have been a football fan.
We're two games into a new preseason in a new era for the Philadelphia Eagles. Numbers can be quite telling, but the jury is out as to whether they tell the whole story.
However, some stats thus far at least give us pause, whether it be an indication of a new trend or perhaps the continuation of a disturbing one. (And hell, what's preseason football without a little overanalysis?)
Although this time of year is all about taking things with a grain of salt, the following figures may in fact give us a taste of things to come...
Vick and Foles: 83 Percent Combined Completion Rate
In what is one of the most intriguing position battles in the NFL this summer, neither Michael Vick nor Nick Foles has made the decision for Kelly any easier. Combined, they have gone 24-of-29 for 312 yards (and if you count the interceptions, only three of their passes have officially touched the turf).
Both have succeeded, but in different ways. Vick with quick strikes and beautiful touches on downfield throws and Foles with a more deliberate approach, methodically picking apart defenses with long, clock-sapping drives.
Most impressive might be Vick's newfound accuracy and Foles' sudden mobility, leading some to believe a body switch may have taken place.
3 Season-Ending Knee Injuries
Okay, this stat is by far the least likely to carry over to the regular season. We hope. I mean, we really hope.
However, the fact remains that three players, each in a position already sorely undermanned with talent, all tore their ACLs, all on the same practice field, all in the span of 10 days, bringing back nightmarish memories of the Veterans Stadium days for some.
It especially sucks for those who tore their knees.
Jeremy Maclin, in his contract year, was poised to finally have the breakout year everyone's been waiting for. Arrelious Benn—like Maclin, a high draft pick who hasn't lived up to expectations—was in line to be his heir apparent before succumbing to the same fate. Meanwhile, Jason Phillips was one of the few established linebackers on the roster with both experience in the 3-4 as well as special teams.
It's been said bad things happen in threes. Let's keep it that way.
Offensive Plays Run: 157
For those familiar with Chip Kelly's high-paced, head-spinning offenses at Oregon, it comes as no surprise that the Eagles have racked up 157 plays in two games, including a mind-boggling 88 against the Patriots.
The surprising part of it may be that just 67 of them, or 43 percent, have been runs, which resembles more of a Reid-option than a read-option. However, with five quarterbacks vying for playing time—and a job—it certainly makes sense to see what they can do.
Either way, it's safe to say that you shouldn't turn your head much when the Birds have the ball this season.
Number of Targeted Receivers: 19
Speaking of keeping your eyes on the field as well as in the roster list: A whopping 19 different players were targeted for a reception in one game alone, with 18 of them registering a catch.
That's further testament that Kelly hopes someone—anyone—can stand out and step up to become a contender for the second starting wideout spot, currently slated to some non-controversial guy named Riley that no one has really talked much about this summer.
For the most part, the wealth has been spread. Against the Pats, four separate players tallied a team-high three catches and two shared the lead with four versus the Panthers. Of that bunch, the long-tenured Jason Avant leads the way with seven receptions for 86 yards.
The Return Game
In 2012, the Eagles had a good-but-not-great return game. The same returners are back this year but have turned a new leaf, providing a greater return on investment.
Including incumbent kick returner Brandon Boykin, four kickoffs have been run back for 123 yards, nearly 31 per clip.
As for Damaris Johnson—who took one to the house last year but whose undeniable talents were too often overshadowed by questionable decision-making—he and his contemporaries have taken eight punts down the field at 15.5 yards a pop.
Johnson also had a team-high five targets and four receptions against the Panthers, to boot. Show-off.
There were many things that went wrong for Philly last year (and no need nor enough space to rehash them all now). Winning the field-position battle was one of them. With stats like the aforementioned, they should be able to check that one off the list.