Early Points Matter

Posted: January 10th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Stats can be deceiving. The Eagles are undefeated this year when they run the ball 27 or more times. So just run it a bunch, right?

Wrong. When the Eagles run that much, it usually means they have a fourth quarter lead and they’re trying to work the clock. While the stat is true, the reasoning behind it doesn’t work the way so many think.

Some stats are not deceiving.

You can update that to 19-0 now.

But what does this stat mean? What does it really tell us?

The Eagles are probably going to have two possessions in the first quarter of an average game. If the offense goes and gets points, that means one of several things.

Good gameplan – Doug Pederson and his staff scouted the defense and came up with the right formula to beat them. Their ideas are working. That usually translates to a good overall showing.

Big play – Maybe Nick Foles hit Alshon Jeffery or Nelson Agholor for a big gain or even a long TD. The Eagles tend to do pretty well when they come up with big plays.

Hot players – There are times when the offense comes out and is just in a groove. The QB is hot, the line is blocking well and the skill players make plays. It is extremely encouraging when you see this.

Field position – Either the defense or STs made a big play to put the Eagles in or near scoring territory. Another good sign.

There is also the possibility of the defense or STs scoring a return TD, although neither has happened this year. It becomes a lot easier to win games when you get non-offensive points.

Getting early points isn’t so much about playing with a lead, as keeping the game close and having the right frame of mind. If you fall behind by two possessions, it affects the confidence and mentality of a football team. If you’re down 7-3 or 10-7, no biggie. Just get the ball back to the offense and let’s see what happens.

There is also the old axiom that the first points are the hardest to score. George Blanda used to tell that to John Madden. Blanda was a veteran player with the Raiders when Madden got hired as part of the coaching staff. Blanda offered advice to the young coach and Madden listened. The longer a team sees a goose-egg on the scoreboard, the more it messes with their heads.

When the Eagles score early, it helps their confidence. It helps them to feel good about themselves, the gameplan and matchups with the opponent. It does make a difference.

The flip side is that when the Eagles don’t score early, it is going to be a tough day. Points are going to be challenging.

The coaches want to score on every possession so they’re not doing anything different to get points early in a game. The plan varies from opponent to opponent. Running. Throwing. Quick passes. Deep passes. They have to figure out what they think will work that day. And we know Pederson is an aggressive coach so it isn’t like he’s sometimes focused on the run game and field position. He wants to score every time his guys get the ball.

It will be interesting to see if the Eagles score early on Sunday…and if the stat then holds up.

*****

I went back and re-watched part of the Saints game.

The Saints were up 17-0 early. The Eagles then had a good drive to cut it to 17-7. The Eagles stopped the Saints and got the ball back. They drove to midfield and had a 3rd/3 play.

Stefen Wisniewski failed to block someone and Carson Wentz got sacked. If Wiz makes that block, Wentz had someone running wide open. If the Eagles make that game 17-14 or even 17-10, I don’t think things snowball and completely get away from them.

Jim Schwartz talked about how you can watch plays at the very end of a game and know their impact, but it is much harder to know the impact of plays from the middle of the game. This is so true with the sack on third down. If Wiz makes the block, that could have changed the whole game.

The Saints are likely to still win. They were the better team that day. But that mistake just deflated the Eagles. And the Saints went and scored another TD to go up 24-7.

This is a very different Eagles team. I think this is going to be a tight game on Sunday. The Saints aren’t operating at peak efficiency on offense and the Eagles are not going to crumble the way they did in November.

Can the Eagles get enough stops and score enough points to win? That’s the real question.

_