Crazy week. No time for pleasantries. Let's talk numbers.
Domo jumped on some of this stuff earlier in the week. But of course there's always more than can be looked at with these things.
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Red Zone Offense
One way to tell that Eagles fans aren't going too crazy just yet is that we've seen at most a minor freakout over the team's offensive red zone performance so far. After all, the inability last year to score touchdowns after moving the ball downfield was a major factor in the team's underachieving scoring performance (relative to yards gained).
What's funny is that this year's offense really hasn't been much better:
It feels like things have improved, but really that's just because the Eagles are giving themselves more chances. They're still struggling to punch in the rock.
Also, it's only been four games, but despite missing a game and a half, LJ Smith continues to be the most important Eagle down by the goal line:
Westbrook's 3.1 yard average down by the goal line is actually a signficant improvement over his career numbers. We'll see if that's just a sample size issue as the season progresses.
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Red Zone Defense
The defensive numbers are interesting in their own right:
Many fewer red zone chances. Much worse percentage. Very small sample size. Only Baltimore and New York have allowed opponents fewer red zone opportunities. Again, it's early. But that's certainly a good trend.
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Lot of attention in the offseason paid to increasing the explosiveness of the return game. Here are the results so far:
I like that we're returning more punts and fewer kickoffs. Beyond that, we're not seeing much change. What happened to all those proven special teams players we brought in (the one who didn't get cut, I mean...)?
On the other hand, check out the punting stats:
The kickoff numbers aren't quite as eye-popping, but there's definite improvement here as well:
One annoying thing the NFL does with its stats is counting onside kicks in overall averages. Makes comparisons difficult. Fortunately -- and this is new -- they're now telling us how many onside kicks were made ("OSK" above) so we can do a quick-and-dirty correction above to find that Akers' average "real" kickoff last year was about 63.2 yards. Still a nice improvement, even with weather effects.
That kick return average stat at the right is troubling however. One long return pretty much kills that number though, so it's still early.