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