Dynasty League Football

Uncategorized

The Eagle has (crash) Landed

With the 2012 election still fresh in all our minds, I think it’s fair game to lead with a quotation from former President Bill Clinton, who once said, “you can put wings on a pig, but you don’t make it an eagle.”  While I’m not entirely sure of the context, a clearly prescient Clinton could very well have been referring to the recent exploits of Philadelphia’s NFL franchise.  Despite being declared both a “Dream Team” by former backup quarterback Vince Young, and more recently a “budding dynasty” by current-ish quarterback Michael Vick, the Eagles have looked more like dodos, as their 2012 playoff chances are virtually extinct.

Indeed, a loss to the similarly embattled Dallas Cowboys would be the Eagles’ fifth in a row, dropping them to 3-6 on the season.  In fact, depending on the enemy Giants’ week ten result, the Eagles could find themselves with a potentially insurmountable four game divisional deficit.  With team owner Jeffrey Lurie’s “I’m not saying, I’m just saying” statement regarding coach Andy Reid’s future being hitched to the Eagles’ playoff wagon, it could also mean an end to Reid’s Highlander-esque Philly career.

As a dynasty owner, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive in these types of situations.  While nothing is set in stone, it’s sure starting to look like the Eagles franchise is in store for a major upheaval.

Since axing the only head coach hired last millennium is tantamount to mild revolution, it’s reasonable to expect far-reaching changes.  Therefore, this hypothetical analysis will attempt to project what will happen to the principle players involved when and if Andy Reid is fired.

Let’s start with the mustachioed man himself.

Andy Reid, HC PHI

Though there will likely be a few head coaching opportunities available (Dallas and Kansas City come to mind), it’s more likely that Reid will accept a lower-level position in order to rehabilitate his image.  Some may remember that Reid actually began his career with Green Bay, rising to prominence as the Packers’ quarterbacks coach when some guy named Brett Favre was just starting out.  Suffice it to say, Reid is an offensive mind, and as the statistics show below, he prefers to run as pass-first offense.

Year

Total Offensive Plays

Passing Attempts

% Passing Plays

2009

937

553

59.02

2010

989

561

56.72

2011

1004

554

55.18

2012

540

307

56.85

This selective subset of years encompasses former quarterback Donovan McNabb’s final year with the Eagles (2009) through Michael Vick’s ascendance into the starting lineup.  As shown above, the Eagles’ passing peaked in 2009, when McNabb no longer possessed his early career scrambling ability.  Even with a mobile Vick, as well as a stud running back in LeSean McCoy, Reid still had his team pass over 55% of the time in 2010 through the present.

Why does this really matter?

If Reid is in fact hired as an offensive coordinator, these past trends dictate that his future team will rely more heavily on the pass.  As such, offensive skill player values should be adjusted accordingly.

Michael Vick, QB PHI

The popular line of thinking in Philadelphia is that as Reid goes, so too does Vick.  The Eagles have already paid out the majority of his guaranteed money (only $3 million guaranteed for 2013 and beyond), so cutting Vick after the 2012 season would only be a minimal financial burden.  Coupling his age (32) and diminishing running ability (shown below) with his polarizing reputation, it’s possible that Vick’s days as a fantasy asset could be numbered.

Year

Games Played

Rushing Yards

Rushes

Rush Yards Per Game

YPC

2010

12

676

100

56.3

6.8

2011

13

589

76

45.3

7.8

2012

8

300

54

37.5

5.6

Despite a brief uptick in efficiency in 2011, Vick’s overall rushing numbers have decreased in the past few years, no matter which metric is considered.  As these statistics are accompanied by a striking increase in turnovers (32 total since the beginning of the 2011 season) and a leisurely presence in the pocket (134 QB hits so far this year), Vick’s dynasty desirability is currently on the level of a disease.

With that said, there are teams out there who could use him.  Jacksonville, Arizona, Kansas City and the New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets are all in need of an upgrade at the quarterback position.  However, even if they were tempted by Vick, those aforementioned teams offer little to nothing in terms of game-changing skill position players.  If I were a Vick owner, I’d take what I could get for him now.

Nick Foles, QB PHI

Barring an epic trade for the right to draft West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, the Eagles won’t be in a position to draft a franchise-caliber signal caller in the 2013 NFL draft.  Enter Foles.  The rookie third-round pick has great measurables (6’5”, 240 pounds), and he compiled excellent preseason stats (63.5%, 3:1 TD/INT ratio, 8.9 YPA).  He could be starting for the Eagles as soon as this year, and should be owned in all dynasty leagues.

LeSean McCoy, RB PHI

In the game of football, it would seem reasonable to get the ball into the hands of your best player as often as you can.  Unfortunately, despite averaging nearly five yards per carry and over seven yards per reception, LeSean McCoy seems to be the exception to this novel idea.  Consider the statistics below:

Year

McCoy Touches

Total Plays

% Involvement

2010

285

989

28.8

2011

321

1004

31.9

2012

176

540

32.6

While trending slightly in the appropriate direction, McCoy still only touches the ball three times out of every ten offensive plays.  In doing so, he has yet to exceed 273 rushes in any given year.

So what gives?

While the Eagles have averaged in the top half of the league in rushing attempts under Reid (2010-12), McCoy has only received about 60% of the carries on average.  This begs the question, how much of this is due to the running style of Michael Vick?  Considering Vick is the ball carrier on roughly 20% of the Eagles’ running plays, evidence would say the answer to that question is “a lot.”  If the next Eagles coach prefers a more balanced offense with a prototypical pocket passer, McCoy could truly explode.

DeSean Jackson, WR PHI and Jeremy Maclin, WR PHI

Let’s just jump right to the stats, dating back to Maclin’s rookie season in 2009:

Year

Games

Catches

Yards

Yards Per Catch

2009 (Jackson)

15

62

1156

18.6

2009 (Maclin)

15

56

773

13.8

2010 (Jackson)

14

47

1056

22.5

2010 (Maclin

16

70

964

13.8

2011 (Jackson)

15

58

961

16.6

2011 (Maclin)

13

63

859

13.6

2012 (Jackson)

8

37

624

16.9

2012 (Maclin)

7

28

356

12.7

The most striking difference throughout the table above is the disparity in DeSean Jackson’s yards per catch throughout the years.  This shows a reliance on the deep ball, which just isn’t always there.  Maclin’s yards per catch average has been steadier, and apart from his rookie season and an unhealthy 2012, his reception total has been higher each year as well.  This suggests a diversified route tree, which is more conducive to consistent production.  Furthermore, as Maclin boasts better size and similar speed to Jackson, his abilities seem more adaptable to a shift in offensive philosophy.

With Vick under center, opposing defenses had to respect both his running ability and strong arm.  When the pocket would break down, Vick’s improvisational skills and “schoolyard” abilities were more likely to favor the speedy Jackson.  In a more pro-style offense, the guess here is that Maclin will be the bigger beneficiary.

Brent Celek, TE PHI

Celek burst onto the scene in 2009, when he recorded 76 receptions for 971 yards and eight touchdowns.  Although this occurred with Donovan McNabb running the offense, it was assumed that Celek’s climb into fantasy stardom would continue with Kevin Kolb running the show.  Unfortunately, this has yet to materialize.

A combination of shoddy offensive line play and Michael Vick’s glacial pace releasing the ball (3.12 seconds per drop-back in 2012) have led Celek to block more than his owners would prefer.  Since his 2009 breakout, he’s averaged fewer than six targets per game, and secured only 60% of them (68% in 2009).  At only 27 years old, it’s possible that a new coaching staff could re-establish Celek as a fantasy-relevant tight end.

Eagles Defense

The Eagles defense is currently best known for employing the “Wide Nine” technique, which spreads the defensive line out in an attempt to increase pressure on the opposing quarterback.  While defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin experienced success with this scheme in 2011, the pass rush has been virtually non-existent thus far in 2012.  A byproduct of this failure has led to a porous run defense (114 yards per game) and a middling pass defense (229 yards per game).  If Reid is fired, it’s more than likely that the next coach will clean house and bring in his own staff.  It’s impossible to predict the effect on the Eagles defense, but more likely than not there will be one.

In Conclusion

With the talent they currently possess on both sides of the ball, it’s unfathomable that the Eagles are two games under .500.  Whether this is due to coaching mistakes or player errors, the situation is more than likely going to be rectified by management.  By utilizing statistical analysis of the key players most likely to be affected, you can stay one step ahead of your competition, and hopefully adjust your lineups accordingly.

Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27

3 Comments
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skinny Elvis
9 years ago

Thanks for the article. As a long suffering Eagles’ fan, this team is painful to watch. A couple of points:
1) Vick is getting killed due to a combo of a terrible line (partly due to injury), his inability to read a blitz, and the fact he refuses to avoid contact while running. His red zone turnovers are killing the team also. A change of team will occur in the offseason due to his cap number for sure.
2) Who knows if Foles can play? If Vick gets pulled/hurt, expect the Eagles to run more since that is what has happened with Reid’s teams in the past when McNabb was hurt.
3) At WR, Jackson has played well and hard all year; coming into the year fans were concerned that he would drop off since he got his contract extension. I would take his projected 74/1248/4 numbers and be happy even though you would like more TDs. But he was a projected WR3 probably for most teams so those are good stats for the value.
4) Maclin is another story and I think he got off easy in the article. Last year’s mystery illness gave him a pass for 2011 but he has struggled to get open and stay on the field this year. Since Jackson runs the deeper routes, I would have expected Maclin to have better numbers. His regression has to be a concern for his dynasty owners.
5) Celek has had the dropsies at critical times this year. I would expect Foles to help his value since a TE can be a young QB’s best friend.
6) Of course, the assumption is Reid is gone next year so the new coaching staff may change everything. If Reid somehow survives (which means he must have pics of Lurie committing a felony or two), expect the Philadelphia fan base to explode!
Cheers.

sean mcguigan
9 years ago

I agree with above about Maclin while not 100% his fault with all other issues on team especially Vick he definitely has regressed he does not seem to be able to get separation even with his exceptional speed and press coverage defeats him almost every time……I saw enough and just traded him could be a sell low moment but I saw enough to be not convinced he was ever going to evolve into top 10 guy and he is always nicked up as well

Eric MacKenzie
9 years ago

Outside of one huge game with Kolb, I’m not seeing a massive improvement for Maclin with more orthodox QBs (McNabb, Kolb). I think it’s a bit of a leap of faith to expect this guy to take a big step forward especially considering how much Philly passes the ball. I agree with the other that Maclin isn’t really a guy I’m targetting. In fact, I’m probably using the change of scenery idea as a sales pitch to unload him if I have him.

To Top