I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how bad the Eagles were last year. I do, however, want to spend some time on the good years. Just how good were the Andy Reid Eagles at their peak?
To figure that out, we obviously have to first decide when the “peak” was. Which Andy Reid team was best?
The quick answer would be 2004, since that team went to the Super Bowl (and lost by a field goal to a team that may or may not have cheated). Indeed, the 2004 Eagles were very good. As I’ve shown, Point Differential is the best statistical indicator of team performance, and the 2004 Eagles recorded 124 more points than their opponents. Over the past 10 years, that leaves them in the 87th %tile, meaning that team was VERY good (obviously).
Quick note: I’ve added the 2000-2002 Eagles teams to my data set, so from now on the data will include the last 10 years PLUS those 3 Eagles teams, meaning there are 323 total team season in the set.
HOWEVER, that was not the best team performance under Andy Reid. In fact, the Eagles surpassed that +124 mark twice during Reid’s tenure; in 2001 (+135) and 2002 (+174).
The 2002 Eagles team, with PD of +174, ranks 12th overall in the entire data set, better than 96% of all teams during that timeframe (click to enlarge).
Additionally, the 2002 team had a TO Differential of +14, better than either the 2001 team (+9) or the 2004 Super Bowl team (+6.)
The Sack Differential points to 2002 as well, with that team registering 19 more sacks than their opponents, compared to +10 for the 2004 team and +5 for 2001.
This is a long way of saying that the 2002 Eagles team was, in my opinion (though largely supported by the data), the “best” of the Andy Reid era. Also, it’s pretty clear that the Eagles “peak was from 2001-2004. That itself will not surprise anyone.
What I find most shocking is that the last year of the Andy Reid “peak” was nearly 10 years ago…
It was definitely time for a change.
Lastly, for today, I’ll leave you with the Point Differential per year for the Eagles under Reid (1999 excluded). As you can see, there’s a pretty definitive down-trend over nearly the entire timeframe.
As I mentioned at the top, I’m going to spend some time illustrating how GOOD those Eagles teams were (2001-2004). Additionally, I’ll be looking for potential causes of the long-term decline in team performance.
04 team started 13-1 then rested every starter last 2 weeks. Lost 20-7 and 38-10 so that affected their PD alot that year.
GOod point. If we take those games out, they’d be at +167. Really good (historically), but still below the 2002 team, though it’s fair to say if the 2004 team played full strength they’d have likely added a bit and finished better than +167.
Given the other stats though, 2002 still ranks, for me, as slightly ahead.
Regardless, the overall point is that the Andy Reid era really did peak early, and that he didn’t come close to matching either the 2002 or 2004 team again (though 2008 was pretty good).
I’ve always felt like the 2002 team was the best of the Reid era – I’m obviously glad that the data supports that. The 2004 Eagles were clearly the class of the NFC, but the Patriots were probably a better team (and the 15-1 Steelers manhandled us that year as well). As far as PDiff, the 2004 Eagles were tops in the NFC, but were far behind NE and IND (by about 50 points each, which probably offsets the Eagles resting their starters in Weeks 16-17).
On the other hand, the 2002 Eagles really looked like the best overall NFL team going into the playoffs, and had the highest PDiff in the entire league – by a wide margin. All this does is make the NFC Championship loss to the Bucs that much more painful – even ten years later.
I agree, though I should note that the Bucs that year had a PD of +150, which was 2nd in the league.
Tampa also had a historical good defense that year.
Yes they did, i meant to note that.
On Sat, May 11, 2013 at 6:09 PM, Eagles Rewind
I’ve always felt that Andy Reid and the Eagles were simply never lucky – in fact the ‘unluckiest’ team in pro sports, aside from the Glavine/Smoltz/Maddux Braves era, who only won one WS but should have won more.
They just never got that crucial last lucky bounce. No David Tyree catch (well, the 4th and 26 qualifies).
Every stinking year the Eagles were great but there was some team that came out of nowhere (Tampa Bay, Carolina), or a legit juggernaut (Patriots). It was so frustrating. Still is, in hindsight : )
I recall reading something in Sports Illustrated years back that exposed the Panthers that year as having an O-Line that was doing cutting edge PEDs. And then there is videogate cheating from Belichick.
Reid/Lurie just never caught a lucky break. I don’t blame them for that. Too many fans think there is a concrete formula of: DO A + DO B + DO C = Super Bowl. Luck is a huge part of it.
Come to think of it….there’s always the Flyers. Talk about unlucky. : )
I enjoy reading your material,..but can you change the background to white and the text to black? It ‘s not easy on the eyes.
I’ve been considering it. When I originally planned it the posts weren’t as long or wordy.
Brent, who’s the ridiculous outlier sitting at ~320+ in graph 1?
The 2007 Patriots…the helmet catch screwed a lot up (historically speaking).