Wednesday, January 6, 2010

NFL Playoff Musings Part 1 – Free advice for Andy Reid and the Eagles

Here are some relevant stats from the Eagles games this season. All stats obtained from the links from this page at

Let’s start with the WINS:

Week 1 vs Carolina : 29 Pass Attempts, 32 Rush Attempts

Week 3 vs Kansas City : 36 Pass Attempts, 27 Rush Attempts

Week 5 vs Tampa : 24 Pass Attempts, 21 Rush Attempts

Week 7 vs Washington : 26 Pass Attempts, 27 Rush Attempts

Week 8 vs NY Giants : 23 Pass Attempts, 24 Rush Attempts

Week 11 vs Chicago : 33 Pass Attempts, 30 Rush Attempts

Week 12 vs Washington : 36 Pass Attempts, 29 Rush Attempts

Week 13 vs Atlanta : 27 Pass Attempts, 26 Rush Attempts

Week 14 vs NY Giants : 28 Pass Attempts, 24 Rush Attempts

Week 15 vs San Fran : 36 Pass Attempts, 33 Rush Attempts

Week 16 vs Denver : 35 Pass Attempts, 28 Rush Attempts

Aaaaand here’re the LOSSES:

Week 2 vs New Orleans : 52 Pass Attempts, 22 Rush Attempts

Week 6 vs Oakland : 46 pass Attempts, 14 Rush Attempts

Week 9 vs Dallas : 30 Passs Attempts, 24 Rush Attempts

Week 10 vs San Diego : 56 Pass Attempts, 13 Rush Attempts

Week 17 vs Dallas : 36 Pass Attempts, 10 Rush Attempts

It was this last game that prompted me to look up these stats. I saw about 3 qtrs of that game and I was disgusted. The Eagles had a lot to gain by winning this game---the NFC East title, a bye week and a home playoff game against, most likely, Arizona---a team that would find it difficult to play in Philly in Jan. And in the first half, Philly ran the ball 5 times. And everyone was mystified as to why they were teeing off on McNabb successfully. 10 freaking rush attempts in a game? Every now and then Reid just freaking loses his mind.

Anyway, I have been over this before, after Philly’s playoff exit last year.

1) Run the damn ball

2) Don’t give up on the running game; it helps your defense too, y’know.

3) Most of the time, if your Pass : Run ratio exceeds, say 1.4 : 1, say hello to another loss

4) Most of the time, nothing good happens when you chuck the ball over 40 times a game.

Then again, what do I know? It’s not like I’m an ‘offensive genius’ like Gruden or Shanahan or the many analysts on the ESPN/CBS/FOX/NBC payrolls (aptly titled, I think, as I find their ‘genius’ to be largely offensive).

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Comrade PhysioProf said...

Yeah. I think Reid loses his nerve too quickly in games. If they go out fast in the first quarter, then he keeps his cool, but if not, then he--and McNabb--start pressing too quickly instead of being patient.

He's got McCoy and Westbrook (and Vick in some circumstances) as awesome running threats, and Celek and Avant and Jackson to throw to.

In fact, one thing I would like to see would be some plays in which McCoy, Westbrook, Vick, and McNabb are all on the field at the same time. That oughta mess up the defense!

To tell you the truth, I also think that--for whatever reason--McNabb was just not hitting his spots in Dallas. He definitely had open receivers that he threw to but was off.

Anonymoustache said...

I think it is more than losing nerve--I think the occasional game plan is fundamentally and dangerously flawed. Even really good coaches sometimes get too caught up in film analysis, and get too seduced by the idea that they see something on film that they can exploit to blow the game open. In and of itself, identifying weaknesses is a great thing, but employing their 'exciting new discovery OMG... so cool.. I'm a genius....we'll kill em' strategy at the cost of basics gets coaches in hot water. Not that they see it that way, of course.
Yes, McNabb was off in Dallas, but the gameplan seemed to be predicated on his hitting long bombs---there was no fallback, no attempt to establish the run so that McNabb could meaningfully use play-action etc.
The Eagles defense is not nearly as good as it was last year, so there is less margin for error.
A lot of these so called offensive geniuses came from the Bill Walsh tree, but seem to have forgotten a core idea of Bill's---that he scripted the first 15 offensive plays of every game, and regardless of circumstance they tried their damned best to stick to the script. I used to wonder why Bill did that, but have seen the wisdom of it in later years---you dictate some things to the defense, establish your balance and rhythm, regardless of the outcome early in the game, because it sets the defense up for your plays in the later 3 qtrs or so. In other words, you enforce your game plan.
If they just reared back and chucked it 50 times, Montana and Rice would not have been nearly as effective, would not have nearly the same records that they do now, nor would their careers been as long as they were.

Anonymoustache said...

Also, as re gameplans that rely on McNabb hitting long bombs: They fail even when McNabb hits them. See last year's game against Arizona. McNabb kept them in the game with long TDs, but ultimately, the defense was gassed and couldn't hold Arizona. And when Philly really needed a quick drive the Arizona defense had already seen over 40 Eagle pass plays and was primed to read the receivers better from formation and send blitzes with more confidence to get McNabb.
All the while Westbrook touched the ball like 10 times. FAIL!

scribbler50 said...

Couldn't agree more, Stache, ya' gots ta' run the ball. And you don't give up on it after one or two series'. That's why the phrase "establish the run" is used, it's something you "build" over the course of a game. And, as CPP pointed out, it's not like Philly doesn't have the people to do it. This has always bothered me about watching the Reid-ian offense, no matter what the situation is it always looks like they're down by five and there's only a minute to go. Even when they're ahead. There's a panic look to it. (Is that why McNabb was out of gas in the Super Bowl?) And you're right, when it doesn't work (which is a hell lot of the time) their defense suffers enormously from a two-minute three-and-out. Why not surprise somebody for once in your play-off life, Andy? I mean you'd think that after all these years of falling just short with all that talent he would finally....


Anonymoustache said...

Good to hear from ya, Scrib50.
I got a hunch about Sat's game---I think Reid plays it fundamentally sound to keep the Dallas D-line at bay. Reid's gotta know that play action is where its at. BTW, as well all know, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42. But few people know that the (all important universal) question to that all-important answer is "How many points can you average per game if you have a good passing game and can establish the run so as to make play-action effective?" But I digress.
If the Philly D can pressure Romo, I believe Philly could hand the Cowboys an asswhupping in their own stadium. One thing about Philly is that they have put up an impressive number of points several times this season.

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