UPDATE: For those wondering, next week I’ll post the same stats adjusted by annual league average. Similar story, but it clears up some of the inflation and year-to-year comparison issues.
First, you’ll notice the site looks a bit different today. I’ve been meaning to change it for a while; hopefully this is easier to read. I’m not happy with the entire layout, so you may notice more changes soon. In any case, if it’s not an improvement, please let me know.
Now then, where were we?
Right, the Andy Reid Peak, which ended after the 2004 season…
Below is a table showing the top 30 best defenses (lowest PPG allowed) in my data set. Remember, the data set is the last 10 seasons (320 teams) PLUS the 2000-2002 Eagles teams, for a total of 323 teams. In the table, I’ve highlighted the Eagles in green. Also, I’ve highlighted Super Bowl Champions in yellow.
These are, roughly, the top 10% of all defenses. Note that I have not included the rest of the league for the 2000-2002 seasons (not as easy as you’d think, for reasons I won’t explain here). If I had, I believe there’d be 5-6 defenses that rank above the 2004 Eagles in this chart (including the outrageous 2000 Ravens, who allowed just 10.3 PPG).
In any case, including those years would actually IMPROVE the Eagles percentile rank here, so the point remains: the biggest strength of the Andy Reid Peak teams was defense. Jim Johnson was with the team through the 2008 season, so the drop-off after 2004 is not related to coaching.
I’ll go into more detail about the drop-off next week (once I’m finished looking for potential explanations). Today, though, is just about illustrating how good the Andy Reid Eagles were at their best.
How about offense?
Andy Reid is known as an “offensive” coach, so how was his team’s performance on that side of the ball?
The Eagles’ best offensive performance (PPG) under Reid was actually in 2010 (the Vick outlier season). That year, the team scored 27.4 PPG, good enough for 27th overall in my data set (92nd Percentile). Note that this was NOT during the “Andy Reid Peak”.
In fact, the best Andy Reid teams featured relatively average offenses. Below is a table showing each Eagles team from 2000-2012 (I’m ignoring Year 1 for obvious reasons). The first column shows that team’s offensive percentile ranking within my data set. I’ve bolded the “Peak Era” teams.
However, notice that the 2001 Eagles managed to win more games than the 2010 Eagles despite scoring SIX fewer points per game. That’s a huge difference in performance. There was some offensive inflation across the league over this time period, but nowhere near enough to account for the degree of change we see above.
I’ll leave it there for today, since I want to focus on the positive. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the relative trade-offs Reid appears to have made (sacrificing defense for offense) and if we can learn anything from that about overall team construction (I touched on this in the Necessary Conditions post if you want to get a head start).