The Danger of Anomalies

Posted: November 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 48 Comments »

Last night the Vikings beat the Skins 34-27. The Vikings improved to 2-7, while the Skins fell to 3-6. Last year those teams combined for 20 wins. That’s a big fall. So what happened?

The 2012 versions of those teams were anomalies. RG3 was new to the NFL. Teams struggled to deal with his raw ability. The Skins offense featured some new wrinkles that completely caught people off guard. Turnovers were huge. Washington had the fewest turnovers in the league and the 5th most takeaways. RG3 only threw 5 picks all year while MLB London Fletcher had 5 INTs.

They also caught plenty of breaks. They got Nick Foles in his first NFL start. They faced the Ravens when that team was in a cold streak. Jimmy Bama wrote a piece on how banged up teams were when the Skins faced them (do you miss BtBeast?).

The Vikings got one of the greatest RB seasons in NFL history from Adrian Peterson. He nearly set the NFL rushing record and he averaged 6 yards per carry. He was able to put the offense on his back and carry them. QB Christian Ponder was effective, but not much more. He did run for 253 yards and that helped the Vikings finish 2nd in the league in rushing (to the Skins).

The defense wasn’t anything special. They did have 44 sacks and scored 3 TDs. The Vikings got a pair of STs scores. Minnesota had one of those years where they just played well enough to win.

Both teams were bad in 2011 (combined for 8 wins). The 2012 seasons sure look like anomalies at this point.

I bring all this up because I think it is important for us to remain grounded as we judge the Eagles this season. The team is 4-5 right now. I could easily see the Eagles playing well down the stretch and winning 8 or 9 games. I don’t think the playoffs are out of the question at all.

The goal here isn’t to get to the playoffs. The goal is to win the Super Bowl. We need to be careful about how we view results. Bill Parcells talked about how “you are what your record says you are”, but I don’t fully buy that. Both MIN and WAS were 10-6 last year. The Packers were 10-6 in 2010, the year they won the Super Bowl. That team was the first in history to never trail by more than 7 points during an NFL season. Their 6 losses were by a combined 20 points. 2 of the losses came in OT. That was really good team that didn’t get some breaks and it hurt their record. The Vikings and Skins were mediocre teams that did get breaks and it boosted their results.

Results can be misleading. You need to study how the player or team got the results. That will give you an honest answer on whether you can buy into something being real or not.

Right now the Eagles are a mediocre team with some talented pieces and some holes to fill. The next 7 games will give us some evidence to consider. Then we have to make some evaluations on what we saw. Come to the right conclusions and the team should be better down the road. The wrong conclusions will lead to prolonged problems and wasted seasons.

* * * * *

The Eagles caught a huge break on Monday night when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. He’s out and Seneca Wallace is in. This changes the Packers game completely.

Wallace struggled on Monday. He was 11-19-114 with an INT. The Packers scored 2 TDs in the game, both on the ground. The Packers blocked a punt and recovered the ball at the CHI 32. James Starks ran for a 32-yard score on the next play. Later on there was a 56-yard TD run by Eddie Lacy. The Packers were terrible on 3rd downs and struggled to sustain drives.

Don’t be too dismissive of Wallace. He came off the bench cold last week. This time out he’ll have had a full week of practice. The gameplan will be built around him. I fully expect him to play better. Wallace won’t come close to Rodgers level of play, but the Packers are a good enough team that they don’t need an elite QB to win games.

Beating the Packers in Lambeau is tough. This is going to be especially tough since they lost there on Monday. The Packers haven’t lost consecutive home games since 2008. Then again, they’ve had Rodgers on the field for almost all of those games. Great QBs on good teams don’t lose a lot of home games.

The Packers do get Clay Matthews back on the field. He is the biggest playmaker they have on defense. He’ll be playing with a big club on his hand to protect his injured thumb. We’ll have to see how that affects his level of play.

Foles hasn’t faced any pass rusher this year who is nearly as gifted and disruptive as Matthews. Nick needs to be careful about getting too comfortable in the pocket. He’s gotta get the football out quickly.

The Packers have had some issues with tackling this year. RAC yards will be crucial.

We’ll talk more about the matchups in later posts.


48 Comments on “The Danger of Anomalies”

  1. 1 Westport_Johnny said at 1:08 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Sort of banking on Matthews being out of “game” shape and sucking wind vs. the fast-paced Iggles O

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 2:42 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Hope for it, but don’t count on it.

  3. 3 Tom33 said at 2:53 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Especially because he was out due to a thumb…

  4. 4 A_T_G said at 3:39 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    If Chip is truly a genius he will devise a game plan centered around attacking that thumb.

  5. 5 ACViking said at 4:21 PM on November 8th, 2013:


    You and Baloophi have been ultra-hot the past couple of weeks.

    Whatever you guys do for a living, I sure hope it involves sharing your writing skills with a wider audience.

  6. 6 Michael Winter Cho said at 5:46 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Hmmm…. bouncing passes off his helmet, knowing he can’t catch them? ….Barkley?

  7. 7 GEAGLE said at 1:43 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    OregonDucker made a great point about the Packers DLINE being huge…if we can get into a flow and use our tempo, it’s really going to tire out that Dline

  8. 8 TommyLawlor said at 2:42 PM on November 8th, 2013:


  9. 9 CrackSammich said at 3:25 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Looking like a great day for phantom injuries.

  10. 10 ACViking said at 4:10 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Great point . . . IF — and only if — the Eagles’ offense scores TDs, not FGs.

    Kelly’s argument that Time of Possession does NOT matter makes great sense . . . if you’re scoring TDs on at least 3-4 of your possessions in games against *good* teams.

    But if you’re playing like Oregon last night, not scoring and turning the ball over, then TOP makes a big difference . . . because you can’t score when the other team has the ball.

    I think your game-plan is sound. Sound. Sound. Sound.

    But I’d expect the Packers to go all “Four Corners” on the Eagles: Run, run, and run some more; mix in possession passes; use the clock as much as possible.

    Classic SB-1990: Parcells shortened the game because his backup QB was playing, so he ran and ran and ran.

    It’d be great if the Eagles’ Defense steps up to limit the Packers to short possessions. Maybe a turnover or two, also.

    On the other hand, if the Eagles’ offense struggles to put up TDs, and if the Packers successfully hold the ball, then I think Time of Possession matters a whole damn lot.

    No better defense than denying the ball to your opponent.

    NOTE: To those who want to remind me what Kelly said about TOP, feel free. All I’m saying is that TOP matters to fast-break teams — i.e., to Kelly, the team he left behind in Eugene, and the Eagles — IF THEY CAN NOT SCORE TDs and the opponent is moving the ball. FGs won’t cut it.

    GEagle . . . Mi piace il nuovo titolo. Mi fa ridacchiare

  11. 11 Anders said at 4:11 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    If you turn the ball over on downs or fumbles. TOP does not matter because you still aint scoring any points.

  12. 12 ACViking said at 4:12 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    If who does? The opponent?

    If you mean the opponent, then sure.

    But now the game gets shorter and shorter. The margin for error gets smaller and smaller.

    That’s how the Bills lost the SB to the Giants.

  13. 13 Anders said at 4:16 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Lets take the Oregon-Stanford game. Had they just scored fgs it would have been a tie game.

    That game just shows that against very good oppononts, you cant afford mistakes like that

  14. 14 ACViking said at 4:18 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    A —

    Maybe, maybe not.

    If Oregon gets 2 FGs instead of TOs, maybe Stanford plays the game a bit differently.

    Maybe on the blocked FG, Stanford goes for a 1st down.

    But I understand your general point.

    For me, in a game with two closely matched teams, if one is playing fast and the other slow — and holding the ball for 40 minutes — then the fast team has to max-out its opportunities in the RZ.

    Generally, I think we’re on the same page.

  15. 15 ACViking said at 4:15 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    A —

    I’m sorry if I’m not focused on the right team.

    Either way, not scoring for a fast-break team is a dangerous proposition.

  16. 16 Ark87 said at 5:37 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    TOP: Football boils down to a very simplistic concept, teams take turns with opportunities to score. Simply put, the game boils down to how efficient you are at turning opportunities into points whilst deny points during the opponent’s opportunity. Through superior clock management, you may gain a +1 opportunities to score over your opponents. But that’s it. If you hog the clock with any given opportunity, you are simply mutually decreasing the number of opportunities to score in a given game. Hogging the clock is good when used strategically, such as denying your opponent the final meaningful opportunity to score in the half/game.

    Chip Kelly can play with tempo, this provides both teams with extra opportunities to score. Hence our offense is statistically great while not looking all THAT dominant, while our defense, statistically, was on pace to be one of the worst ever, despite not looking near as dreadful of the 2012 rendition of the bird’s defense.

    TOP belonging to the winner is typically a correlation people get backwards. A team that is winning aims to end the game while they’re ahead, burning clock, while the trailing team desperately tries to preserve it.

    Sometimes TOP imbalance reflects a struggling team’s inability to get first downs, while struggling to get it’s defense off the field by forcing a punt. But again, the team is losing because it’s offense and defense are struggling, not because of the clock.

  17. 17 ACViking said at 5:53 PM on November 8th, 2013:


    Yes. TOP is a byproduct of success much more often than a strategic initiative.

    For an overmatched team — Bills v. Giants, Stanford v. Oregon — I think it’s a strategic initiative.

    But TOP won’t mean crap if the team cutting down the opponent’s opportunities cannot itself score TDs.

    It’ll just keep the score close.

  18. 18 Ark87 said at 6:00 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    true enough. You can keep a game from getting out of hand if there aren’t a whole lot opportunities to score (albeit for either team). That can be pretty handy if you are outmatched, as you said, or just really aren’t sure what the opponent is thinking, and you’re eager for the opponent to show their hand while limiting the damage they do with the initiative.

  19. 19 mtn_green said at 10:18 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Ark87 has it right but it is +2 scores for good clock management 1 at half time and 1 at end of game. But your team has to execute.

    5 minutes left in game and you slow game down to go for last score, if you turn ball over or punt before 2 min warning you probably should have hurried up so you could get another opportunity. Same applies for when you get ball at 4 min or 3 min. If your team gets stopped while your purposefully playing slow the. You give other team a +1.

    Technically the team that gets kickoff has advantage in that half to have one more possession.

  20. 20 A_T_G said at 10:29 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    No, I think he had it right. It is +1 in the half you start with the ball if you also get the last possession. In the other half the best you can do is break even.

  21. 21 Cafone said at 3:03 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    I definitely miss Blogging the Beast. should just have him do that same column over there. It was cool getting a steady stream of info on our conference rivals.

  22. 22 ICDogg said at 4:16 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    3 words for today:

    Shawn Andrews Interview

  23. 23 ACViking said at 4:19 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Where and what?!?!?!
    Would you mind giving a quick summary?

  24. 24 nicolajNN said at 5:06 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    I’m guessing it’s the one with Mike Missanelli on The Fanatic, it’s focused on the Martin case, and Shawn’s locker room situation while here.

    The audio is here:

    PFT has a recap of a part of it focusing on some comments on his relationship with McNabb

  25. 25 Michael Winter Cho said at 5:59 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    I don’t know if this is the right place to air this, but what’s up with all the internet tough guys saying Martin is a *****y who should have stood up to the bully? These guys are talking like they can kick Incognito’s a** or something.

  26. 26 T_S_O_P said at 4:54 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Tommy, the Chip era has also bought to the fold an excellent new blog as I am sure you are aware. Any chance of The Chip Wagon being added to the blog roll.

  27. 27 CTAZPA said at 5:15 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    I’m hoping we become a sort of “Destination” for free agents who want to be a part of the excitement that is Chip Kelly and the fast offense.

  28. 28 Joseph Dubyk said at 6:31 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    lol, as long as you pay a player the dollar amount they want you will be a “destination.” only over the hill vets who want to win a championship and have made their millions go to “destination” teams

  29. 29 iceberg584 said at 8:02 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    I’d direct you to Terrell Owens in March 2004. He wanted to play for Philadelphia because he knew the team was on the cusp of a championship and had one of the best QBs in the league.

  30. 30 xlGmanlx said at 8:25 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    No thanks, building through the draft and developing that talent is the proven formula. FA’s should be added for depth, not starters in my opinion. Football is like any other in that you can’t simply just plug and play in a lot of positions.

  31. 31 CTAZPA said at 10:03 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Obviously. There’s luck involved with draft and development, however. I want a Runyan or Kearse to materialize for nothing more than a few salary cap dollars.

  32. 32 Joseph Dubyk said at 6:27 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    It hurt the Eagles in 2011 when we were 4 – 8 and we played a bunch of garbage qBS/TEAMS to go 8-8 and give andy another shot

  33. 33 ACViking said at 7:13 PM on November 8th, 2013:


    Who do you think would’ve ended up as the Eagles new HC?

    Kelly entertained an offer from the Bucs.

    But the Eagles were still being run by Joe Banner at the time.

    Question: Do you think Kelly would’ve bit on an Eagles’ offer with Banner running the franchise?

  34. 34 Joseph Dubyk said at 9:45 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Hindsight sure “maybe(as we dont know if Kelly will win us a trophy)” it was good fate…but at that time right there, it was clear with his drafts and his recent coaching decisions he should’ve been axed

  35. 35 Anders said at 7:18 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    The true talent of the Eagles 2011 team was around 9-10 wins depending on what statistic you use. So no the 4 game win streak was not a fluke

  36. 36 Joseph Dubyk said at 9:46 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Sure… the no name LBs… NA (washed up), kurt coleman, an over rated Vick and a horrible o-line….yeah dude we were 8-8 for a reason and it showed the following year…. The 4 game win streak was against matt more, sanchez, grossman and stephen mcgee…. FLUKEEEEEEEEE

  37. 37 anon said at 2:41 AM on November 9th, 2013:

    i seem to remember us leading a lot of games and losing in the 4th quarter b/c of bad D. We had a good team in 10/11 just not good enough.

  38. 38 Joseph Dubyk said at 1:03 PM on November 9th, 2013:

    we had our O-line coach as the D cord. we signed an over the Hil NA….no safety play… or LB play… The Wide 9 was only condusive to the pass rush ….we were not that good , hence the record!!!!

  39. 39 Anders said at 10:50 AM on November 9th, 2013:

    We had the 8th best point differential in the NFL. We lost a lot of close games etc.

    Hell in 2012 we should have improved right? I mean we replaced the no name LBs with Ryans. Played DRC in his perfect role.

    2012 seems more like anomalie with all the injuries and turnovers

  40. 40 Joseph Dubyk said at 1:02 PM on November 9th, 2013:

    It is? why are 4-5 now without beatinga winning team yet?????? because we’re sooo good and 2012 was an anomaly??? come on man, take your blinders off, you sound ridiculous…the 11 team sucked and so did the 12 team. hence the 4th overall pick

  41. 41 Anders said at 7:01 PM on November 9th, 2013:

    The 12 team blew donkey balls. We are 4-5 this year because we was forced to play Matt Barkley in 2 games and the defense couldnt catch a break against Denver and CHargers

  42. 42 Joseph Dubyk said at 8:53 AM on November 10th, 2013:

    lol… is blind anders… take off your blinders

  43. 43 Joseph Dubyk said at 6:28 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    you guys should check this out: shawn andrews said McNabb was a douche off the camera

  44. 44 Jamie Parker said at 8:13 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    So he’s a douche off the camera and an idiot on it?

  45. 45 A_T_G said at 8:29 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Sounds like he is jealous of McNabb’s ability to hide it when he is in front of the camera.

  46. 46 xlGmanlx said at 8:23 PM on November 8th, 2013:

    Personally, I’m kinda bummed that Rogers is out this week. I want to see the D against an elite QB, even without all his compliments, to gauge the progress since the broncos beat down. I’m still a run/stop the run kind of guy, but it still hasn’t changed that defense wins championships. It might not be lock down era anymore, but being able to get key stops is the new lockdown.

  47. 47 shah8 said at 1:54 PM on November 9th, 2013:

    Huh, didn’t realize Matthews would be playing…

  48. 48 austinfan said at 4:52 PM on November 9th, 2013:

    Anomalies are why statistics matter, if you go 10-6 but have a bad point differential and yard differential, and/or are getting lucky on things like fumble recoveries, odds are it’s not sustainable.

    Another issue is age, depth and injuries, if you are lucky with health, odds aren’t you won’t be again, though I’m thinking Chip is onto something, you’d think GB is unlucky, but they seem to be injury prone year after year, bad training? bad personnel? An older team is not only likely to have more injuries, it’s also likely to have more players fall off the cliff, a young team is likely to have players going through the “inconsistent” portion of their careers (at many positions, you can shine until opposing teams have film, then how you adjust to their adjustments can determine your career trajectory).

    Think the Eagles are a little lucky with injuries this year (though does Chip have a secret? Is Howie avoiding players with injury histories?), otherwise they don’t seem to be getting an unusual amount of breaks, and pulling out a lot of nailbiters that could go the other way next year. They’re also young and getting younger at most positions, outside of the OL. So the future looks pretty good.