Fun With Numbers

Posted: July 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 17 Comments »

I loved stats when I was a kid and that made baseball my game of choice. Stats were definitive. You hit .300 or you didn’t. You hit 41 home runs or you didn’t. You had 300 strikeouts or you didn’t.

You have to understand that in 1980 little Tommy Lawlor couldn’t watch every baseball team or player. I was a die-hard Orioles fan and got to see 20 games in a year if I was really lucky. That’s what happened when you grew up in NC and Ted Turner’s TBS owned the South, showing every Atlanta Braves game.

So you followed your team by studying the box scores. Sunday was a holy day. For me that wasn’t so much about going to church as it was the stats posted in the newspaper. I was obsessed with Eddie Murray, the Orioles all star 1B, and had to study his numbers and how they compared to other star players. I would then sit in church, reviewing those stats in my head.

I bought The Complete Handbook of Baseball every year and memorized every stat I could. Cecil Cooper hit .352 in 1980. Ben Ogilvie had 41 homers. Steve Stone won 25 games. Mike Norris only won 22,  but had the better ERA, 2.54.

I bought the Who’s Who in Baseball when I could find it. A family friend gave me the 1973 copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia, so that gave me a whole new set of stats to memorize.

That all changed in 1985 when I fell in love with Buddy Ryan and his 46 Defense. Football became my favorite sport. Baseball numbers became a passive interest. Football numbers just weren’t a big thing.

I’ve grown to love football history over the years. Football numbers still aren’t like baseball numbers. One of the big problems is that stats weren’t kept the same way. Sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982. That makes comparing Reggie White and Deacon Jones awkward. Forced fumbles didn’t become a stat until even after that. For the longest time, football was yards and points. That’s about it.

That’s changing, obviously. There are now so many football stats it can make your head spin. I don’t love numbers the way I used to so I can’t tell you who holds a lot of NFL records and what they are exactly.

I wrote a piece for on some amazing numbers and stats from Eagles history.

I could have written another 1,000 words or more with some great numbers. Eagles history is long and usually interesting. Not always good, but rarely boring.

Here are a few things I left out:

One of my favorite games from the Reid Era came in 2002. The Eagles beat the Giants 17-3 on Monday Night Football. The Eagles ran the ball 40 times for 295 yards. Duce Staley went for 126. Donovan McNabb ran 8 times for 107 yards. Dorsey Levens and rookie Brian Westbrook combined for 8-62. I really wanted them to get 300 yards, but settling for 295 wasn’t too bad. It was a thing of beauty to see the Eagles beat up and impose their will on the Giants and their big time defense.


The Chip Kelly Era won’t go down in history as anything special, but the 2013 season did have some great moments. The Eagles had 99 explosive plays. Those were runs or passes that gained 20 or more yards. That is an amazing total. The combination of a DeSean, LeSean, a hot QB and Chip’s offense being new to the league led to plenty of highlight moments. The underrated part of all that is a dominant offensive line. The five starters stayed healthy all year and played at a high level.


Jim Johnson never had an all-time great defense like Bud Carson or Buddy Ryan. But JJ’s 2001 defense was incredibly consistent. No team scored more than 21 points on the Eagles during the regular season. Think about that. Even Gang Green gave up 23, 25, 30 and 22 points in games. An underrated part of that defense was the fact Donovan McNabb did such a good job protecting the ball. McNabb threw 12 INTs. Gang Green had to deal with QBs who threw 27 picks.


Brett Favre had 4 games against the Eagles when his Packers were held to less than 10 points. This came against different head coaches, defensive coordinators and players. The Eagles did that in just 12 games. The Vikings held Favre to less than 10 points just twice…and that was in more than 30 meetings. Crazy.


17 Comments on “Fun With Numbers”

  1. 1 Sean Stott said at 8:08 PM on July 3rd, 2017:

    Number one

  2. 2 A_T_G said at 8:29 PM on July 3rd, 2017:

    Worst. Stat. Ever.

  3. 3 Julescat said at 8:56 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    one is the loneliest number

  4. 4 daveH said at 9:08 PM on July 3rd, 2017:

    T Law how many Billy Ripken FF cards do you have ?

  5. 5 CrackSammich said at 5:59 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    Football never will have the same kind of statistics that baseball has. The game is just not meant for it. For example, how the hell do you define a stat for a DT or FB? Now that we’re in the STATS REVOLUTION!, there’s a new stat for this and that every day, because people realize that it’s difficult to explain what’s going on with numbers but just have to try. DVOA or QBR or Corsi might be the best thing going, but that hardly makes them good.

  6. 6 A_T_G said at 7:19 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    Agreed. Baseball is stat friendly because the team outcome is a result of a series of one-on-one challenges. Sure, the guy batting 4th gets more RBI opportunities when he is on a good team with guys in front of him that get on base and a guy batting 5th who is dangerous, but each at bat still boils down to batter vs. pitcher, hitter vs. fielder, runner vs. thrower.

    Football, and rugby, most closely resemble the pre-mechanization battle field, in my opinion. The teamwork and coordination makes stats more difficult.

  7. 7 Media Mike said at 10:04 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    Those “advanced” stats suck and 99.9% of them exist to generate page clicks or force people to part with their $ to get behind a paywall. Then the hucksters who purvey said “advanced” stats denigrate tradition by slurring actual number by calling them “counting stats.” Here’s a news flash; THEY’RE CALLED COUNTING STATS BECAUSE THEY’RE THE ONLY ONES THAT COUNT!

  8. 8 CrackSammich said at 10:35 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    Even ATG is cringing at that dad joke, bro.

  9. 9 Media Mike said at 10:46 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    Wasn’t really joking.

  10. 10 P_P_K said at 9:55 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    When I as a kid, I discovered another difference in my appreciation of baseball and football. I liked listening to the Phillies on my little transistor radio, but I only enjoyed the Eagles games when I could watch them on tv.

  11. 11 A_T_G said at 1:50 AM on July 5th, 2017:

    I had a realization this summer. We put a new roof on my Dad’s barn, just like I helped do 25 years ago. Just like then, he had a radio inside the barn tuned to a Phillies game. (Mostly likely just like then, they lost.) That was probably the first game I heard, start to finish, since the last time.

    I realized, that is how baseball is meant to be enjoyed at home: in the background while you are doing something else. When an important pitch was about to be thrown, I’d stop hammering and listen. But there were only a few times where the play merited my full attention.

    Football is completely different. There are 1/10 as many games in a season, meaning they are 10 times as important. There are too many simultaneously moving parts for the radio guy to explain.The schedule is regularly scheduled viewing-friendly.

    In addition to liking football more, baseball doesn’t really fit my lifestyle. I think this is a common problem for the sport.

  12. 12 P_P_K said at 12:29 PM on July 5th, 2017:

    I agree, watching or listening to a baseball game is something you can do while alone and multi-tasking. Football is also the perfect sport to watch in a group. After every play, there’s the opportunity for banter.

  13. 13 Mac said at 11:53 AM on July 4th, 2017:

    Happy 4th of July everyone.

    Dallas sucks.

  14. 14 P_P_K said at 12:26 PM on July 4th, 2017:

    Excellent sentiments.

  15. 15 Bert's Bells said at 12:40 PM on July 4th, 2017:

    1983 Orioles – BOOOOO!!!!!!

  16. 16 Tumtum said at 1:54 PM on July 4th, 2017:

    Dont hate on Oriole magic!

  17. 17 P_P_K said at 12:28 PM on July 5th, 2017:

    But they were beating the Phils.