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Predictions in Review: NFC East

During the 2013 offseason, I wrote 32 articles under the RPO 2013 tag. In my Predictions in Review series, I review those preview articles with the benefit of hindsight. Previously, I reviewed the AFC West, the NFC West, the AFC South, the NFC South, the AFC North, the NFC North, and the AFC East. Today, we finish the series with a look at the NFC East.

Eli Manning was about as good in 2012 as he was in 2011, July 15, 2013

On the surface, Eli Manning’s numbers dropped significantly from 2011 to 2012; after further review, his “decline” was entirely due to two factors: attempting fewer passes and lower YAC by his receivers. And since Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks were largely responsible for those declines, it seemed fair to wonder how much of the blame should go to Manning.

In addition, the Giants offense ranked 2nd in points per drive in 2012. So it seemed like any question about Manning’s “decline” in 2012 was silly. Of course, a year later, it’s the concept of defending Manning that seems silly. In 2013, he led the league in interceptions and had the worst season of his career since his rookie year. His yards per attempt dropped to 6.9, and as his offensive line was decimated by injuries, his sack rate jumped to a career high 6.6%.

Interestingly enough, in 2013, Manning averaged 7.43 average Air Yards per completed pass (6th in the NFL) and 4.62 YAC per completion (32nd). In other words, YAC was still an issue for the 2013 Giants, which may explain the additions of Rashad Jennings and Odell Beckham, Jr.

Which Passers Were Most Effective on Third Down in 2012?, July 23, 2013

This post on Robert Griffin III served as my Washington preview article. In 2012, Washington’s offense was very successful, but Griffin really struggled when it came to converting first downs through the air. It’s hard to remember, but Griffin was so good two years ago – he led the NFL in yards per pass attempt — that we were forced to resort to obscure stats to critique his game. He did perform slightly below-average in obvious pass situations, and that showed up in his unimpressive third down numbers.

Last year? Well, everything seemed to go poorly for Griffin and Washington…. except third down performance. Griffin converted on 40.4% of his third down situations last season, and produced 7.4 more first downs than the average passer. Perhaps that’s a silver lining in an otherwise miserable season, as Griffin’s ANY/A average dropped by two full yards.

Is change always good? The Cowboys move back to a 4-3 defense, August 22, 2013

Spoiler: change is not always good. The Cowboys defense allowed a franchise- and league-high 6,645 yards last season. Dallas ranked last in first downs allowed, and in the bottom three in passing yards, passing touchdowns, yards per carry, and points per drive. Change is not always good. The only thing worse than the 2013 Cowboys defense may be the 2014 version, with DeMarcus Ware (Denver), Jason Hatcher (Washington), and Sean Lee (IR). Here’s the projected starting lineup:

George Selvie
Henry Melton
Nick Hayden
Jeremy Mincey
Bruce Carter
Justin Durant
Kyle Wilber
Brandon Carr
J.J. Wilcox
Barry Church
Orlando Scandrick

In other words, you want to start your fantasy quarterbacks against Dallas in 2014.

So the key is to grab Jim by the neck real quickly

So the key is to grab Jim by the neck real quickly.

Chip Kelly, Michael Vick, and the Eagles Tempo, September 2, 2013

Right before the season, I provided an in-depth look at the Eagles performance in the preseason and other issues related to tempo. At the time, we all thought Michael Vick was going to be the team’s quarterback: little did we know that Nick Foles was about to have one of the greatest seasons in backup quarterback history.

Philadelphia wound up running just 1,054 plays last year, which placed the Eagles behind 12 other teams. Does that mean the stories about Kelly and the team’s fast tempo were overblown? No. One extenuating factor was that Foles led the NFL in ANY/A and LeSean McCoy averaged 5.1 yards per carry while leading the league in rushing yards. Philadelphia finished 1st in the NFL in plays of 20+ yards by an astonishing margin: the Eagles had 99 such plays, with the Broncos second with 77. The Eagles also had the most 30+ yard plays and 40+ yards plays, and well, you get the point: it’s hard to accumulate plays when you know, you keep running into the end zone.

But Philadelphia ranked dead last in average minutes per drive according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. The Eagles also ranked 1st in the majority of the Pace Stats on Football Outsiders, including seconds per play, seconds per play in the first half, seconds per play in close games, and seconds per play in neutral situations.

Philadelphia led the NFL in yards per play (6.33) and 32nd in number of seconds between plays. I’d say that’s a pretty ringing endorsement for Chip Kelly’s offense.

{ 7 comments }
  • Red June 27, 2014, 12:42 am

    I hope Eli Manning’s three year roller coaster is enough proof that QB’s have virtually no influence on YAC. I think play calling, receiver skill, play of the defense, and plain old luck are far more important in determining YAC than anything the QB does. As bad as Eli looked in 2013, he’s a good candidate for a bounce back season, because his main deficiencies (INT’s and YAC) are both very random from year to year. If his Y/A dropped under 6.5 I’d be much more concerned.

    I still don’t know what to make of the Eagles offense and Foles in particular. Will their puzzle be solved by opponents with an offseason to watch film? My gut says a pretty severe regression in 2014, but we shall see.

    Reply
    • Black June 28, 2014, 12:17 pm

      Stick a fork in Eli….He’s done.

      As far as your weak prediction about the Eagles, you couldn’t be anymore wrong.
      Foles will light up the scoreboards this season.
      He came in as a Backup last year and all he did was win.
      His cleats are now in Canton, in case you missed it.
      You can watch all the film you want, the Eagles will have a new look and guess what, Foles got much better in the off season and you will see how much better in due time.
      His arm strength is now elite and his ability to read defenses and make split second decisions have been honed to near perfection.
      He is the next BIG thing and you wanna talk regression? Bwah ha ha ha Bwha ha ha ha !!!!
      Too funny.

      Reply
  • C Bolton June 27, 2014, 4:16 am

    The 2013 Giants lost their first 6 games, and then went 7-3. That is like being a 0-16 team, and then becoming an 11-5 team. It might be interesting to compare the first 6 games to the last 10 games.

    Reply
  • Richie June 27, 2014, 1:27 pm

    Here’s the projected starting lineup:

    George Selvie
    Henry Melton
    Nick Hayden
    Jeremy Mincey
    Bruce Carter
    Justin Durant
    Kyle Wilber
    Brandon Carr
    J.J. Wilcox
    Barry Church
    Orlando Scandrick

    Ouch. I’m in an IDP Keeper fantasy league, and the only names I recognize are Melton, Selvie and Scandrick.

    Incidentally, I watch the show “Million Dollar Listing”. A season or two ago, Scandrick was on that show searching for a multi-million dollar house in the Hollywood Hills. This must have been shortly after he signed his 5/$25M contract. I was wondering if it made financial sense for him to spend that kind of money on a second house (I assume he has an expensive house in Dallas as well). I wasn’t sure if he was good enough to really earn all of that $25M. Looking at Spotrac, I think it looks like he’s a candidate to be cut after 2015 (unless he has a really good year). For 2016, the Cowboys would have to pay him $5.2M (with a $5.2M cap number) or cut him and save $1.5M against the cap and $5.2M in real money.

    So Scandrick will still probably earn $20M. And I guess when he stops making $5M/year, he can sell some or all of his expensive houses if he can’t afford them. Even if he loses a lot of money in the transactions, he would still be able to bank a few million.

    I watch these shows where people buy these super expensive houses. I always wonder how much income you have to have to do that. So it was interesting to see somebody do it, whose income I kind of know. It makes me think what would I really do if I came into huge money like that. I think I wouldn’t be buying multiple expensive houses. But tastes change when you can afford it.

    Reply
  • Tim Truemper June 28, 2014, 11:34 am

    Its likely that Hayden will not start and that Terrell McClain will, a former high draft pick of the Texans who has performed well. Regarding Richie’s comment, Brandon Carr was in the Pro Bowl for the Chiefs so he is not a huge unknown. Problem with Dallas defense in 2013 was largely injuries. Ware was not worth the $ to keep, as much as I hated to see him go. Likewise for Hatcher. Its an iffy proposition for the defense but Marinelli should provide an upgrade in that his 4-3 defense scheming is more sophisticated that the vanilla Tampa 2 that was employed last year. All we need now is the 2014 season and some data to see who is more prescient. I predict a middlin’ dallas defense for the upcoming year.

    Reply

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