Will the Philadelphia Eagles' Offense Get Back on Track?
There's really no way to sugar coat it: The Philadelphia Eagles offensive unit has been downright abysmal over the last couple of games. The NFL analysts across all networks are keying in on the fact the offense produced zero points against the San Fransisco 49ers, and writing them off for dead.
But is the Eagles offense really doomed?
Shady's Lack of Production
Let's start with the obvious. Lesean McCoy has practically been AWOL along with the rest of the ground game that is usually one of the most dynamic in the entire league. The Eagles go into Week 5 ranked 26th in the entire league in Rushing yards per game with just 87 yards per contest. They finished first in the entire league last year with an outstanding rate of 160 yards a game. In terms of Net Expected Points (NEP), on a per play basis, the team has been a little better than what their yards per game suggests, but still sit 11th-worst in the league in rushing effectiveness when adjusted for strength of opponent.
Shady has not looked the same since he went down with what everyone suspected was a concussion. Many have been critical of his decision-making on runs where there is seemingly a hole and he elected to dance around the line of scrimmage and avoid contact. McCoy has simply looks as if he is dazed out there.
A concussion could set McCoy back a couple weeks at the very least, especially after most questioned the Eagles decision to let him return in the same game where he was forced into the locker room during their Week 3 battle with the Redskins by a brutal hit to the head from Redskins corner David Amerson.
Below is a table looking at McCoy's stat lines from his Week 3 and 4 contests.
|Lesean McCoy||Rushing Attempts||Yards||Receptions||Yards|
|Week 3 (WAS)||19||22||0||0|
|Week 4 (SF)||17||10||0||0|
At this point in the season, McCoy's Rushing NEP per rush is -0.16. A negative NEP is not always condemning for high-usage back like McCoy, but just for reference, Shady finished last season with a Rushing NEP per tote of 0.12, which ranked first among running backs with over 125 carries.
The optimism here is that both San Francisco and Washington, the two squads McCoy was dreadful against, rank 10th and 4th against the run this year, respectively, per our metrics.
Offensive line issues haven't helped McCoy either. It's no secret the offensive line has been plagued by injury early on this year. Three starters have been missing and the Eagles can only take solace in the fact that tackle Lane Johnson will be back this week. While LeSean hasn't looked nearly as explosive as he did in the majority of games last year, the offensive line has not given him the smallest semblance of a running lane. Last season, McCoy frequently had gaping holes to run through and seemed to perpetually get to the second level of the defense. That hasn't been there in 2014.
Drop in Passing Efficiency
Nick Foles hasn't been nearly as efficient as he was last year, either. It was easy for someone to guess Nick Foles wouldn't be able to reproduce the efficiency of his 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio from a season ago, but if we look at some of his advanced metrics, we can see he's performing far worse than 2013.
|Nick Foles||Pass NEP per Drop Back||Pass Success Rate|
On a per play basis, Foles was over five times more efficient in terms of Passing Net Expected Points in 2013 than he has been so far this season. The rate at which Foles is successfully contributing positive Net Expected Points is also down from a year ago. For comparison, last year he was only matched by elite quarterbacks, while this year he's performed worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Can the Offense Get Back on Track?
The offensive line injuries are definitely going to continue being a minor drag on the offense, but with Lane Johnson coming back, the offense should see an uptick in efficiency over the next couple weeks. Mathis will be back later in the year so as long as the Eagles can tread water, they should be fine. Especially with coach Chip Kelly at the helm, Eagle fans should all take a collective breath as the Eagles should add another win to their total after this week's game against the Austin Davis-led St. Louis Rams this week.