QB Performance Frequency Distributions

Ok, so a couple of weeks ago I posted about how often great QBs have bad performances. Today, let’s take a more detailed look at things.  The overall question is, are quarterbacks equally likely to outperform or underperform their long-term average QB rating in any individual game?  Stated differently, are the individual performance distributions symmetrical?  Are they Normal?

Let’s start at the top.  Here’s the graph for Peyton Manning.  Note that the X-Axis labels show the UPPER Bound of each bar.  So the “60” label means that bar corresponds to games where the player’s rating was between 50 and 60.  Also, this is all games with at least 10 pass attempts.  Remember that these are NOT weighted numbers, so they’ll be different from the career measures for each player.  This helps to minimize the skew effects of games with a lot of pass attempts (garbage time yards in a blowout loss for example) as well as increase the weight of great games with relatively few attempts (when a team has a big lead early perhaps).  Realistically, we just want to know what level of performance we’re likely to get in the NEXT SINGLE game.

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That looks pretty Normal.  The Mean is 97.45 (note that this is NOT his long-term average, since it’s not weighted by attempts).  The Median is 95.6.  Obviously, those are crazy-good numbers.  That’s why he’s a HOFer.

Big-picture, if players generally follow a Normal distribution, then we can tell a lot about Nick Foles from relatively fewer games.  So Peyton’s chart is really encouraging.

But here’s Drew Brees:

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Not nearly as neat as Peyton’s.  The Mean is 95.17, the median is 92.4, and there’s some clear skew to the distribution.  Going back to the last post (linked above), notice that Brees has had more games with ratings between 60-80 than he has games with ratings between 80-100.  Overall, his performance, though still amazing, is less predictable than Manning’s.  The standard deviation of Brees’ game log is 29 (rounded) while Manning’s is 27.  Illustrated differently, we can look at the range covering the middle 50% of performances:

Manning:  79.9-112.2

Brees:  72.8-116.7

Again, both great, but Brees is less predictable.  We could raise some interesting strategic questions here as far as which one you want in which situation, but I’ll save that for another day.  For now, just imagine tying it back to our “David Equation” (that’s what I’m calling it now).  Brees might not be as good, but his higher-variance play might be preferable for an underdog team, while you’d rather have Manning if you’re the favorite.

Now let’s take a step down and look at some non-future-HOFers.

Here’s Sam Bradford:

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Much uglier, as expected.  The mean is 80.48, the median is 81.2.  The standard deviation is actually much lower than either Manning or Brees, at just 21. His middle-50% range is:

66.3 – 91.3.

That’s what a bad QB looks like.  Now we should probably caveat all of this by saying it’s a bit unfair to evaluate the QBs in a vacuum, with no regard to the talent level they’re working with.  That’s the case with just about every NFL evaluation, it’s just the nature of the game.  Still, Bradford hasn’t been good enough, and I’m skeptical he ever will be…

How about Eli? (You knew I couldn’t leave him out)

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Mean of 82, Median of 81.65.  Standard deviation of 27.3.  Hmmm…those numbers look vaguely familiar.  What were Sam Bradford’s again?  (mean of 80.48, median of 81.2, stdev of 21).

Interesting.  Future HOFer Eli Manning’s average a median performance are almost identical to secret-bust Sam Bradford (secret because nobody seems willing to say it outright.  I will, Bradford is a bust, unequivocally.  Closing in on 2000 pass attempts, he has a com % below 60 and a Rating below 80).

What about Eli’s middle-50 range?  63.6 – 100.7.

That’s just about the definition of mediocre (and maybe even a bit worse, we’ll see later).

Before I move on, let me repeat one thing.

Eli Manning’s MEDIAN performance is a rating of 81.65.  So HALF of his starts are WORSE than that.

Going back to the initial question I posed:  Are individual QB performance distributions symmetrical?  Almost, though we have to grade it as inconclusive since I only looked at a few QBs.  So we might be able to use that to infer some info about Foles.  Clearly, though, they’re not Normal… There’s a lot more we can do with this type of data, but I’m going to have to wait for another day to start on it.

Also, as is usually the case, I think I stumbled onto something more interesting (the middle-50 ranges).  So rather than go through each QB and post a chart of they’re distributions, I’m going to end this post now and start making a table of every starting QB’s Middle-50 range.  Then we can start talking about which is “best” in a given situation, with some real data to go from.

Before I go, here’s Nick Foles.  He has just 11 qualifying games, so small sample is an understatement, but it’s fun to look anyway.

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Average is 97.2, median is 96.6.  Standard deviation is 35.8.

And here’s Mike Vick.

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Average is 80.9, Median is 83.6.  That’s 2 points BETTER than Eli’s median performance…. Vick’s standard deviation is 28.6.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Notes from Yesterday

Just a few notes from yesterday’s game:

– I don’t understand Chip’s decision to dial down the offense in the second half.  It makes complete sense to become more conservative and to take fewer risks when you have a lead (think equation).  HOWEVER, when the opposing team is basically begging for you to take a shot, you should take it.

Early in the game, it was clear the Eagles were going to take shots downfield when they had Cooper matched up one-on-one with a DB with no safety over top.  It almost led to an early TD (Cooper lost sight of the ball).  Anyway, late in the game the Redskins were packing 8 in the box and playing a single deep safety.  That means you’ve got both D-Jax and Cooper against a CB, and the safety can only help on one of them.

Somehow, a situation Chip was hoping for and targeting early in the game lost its appeal.  Keep in mind that this is not a high-risk play.  Throwing it deep to Cooper when he’s in single coverage is very unlikely to produce an outcome worse than an incomplete pass.

Given that we saw this exact same situation play out last time the team played the Redskins, after which Chip claimed he learned his lesson, I’m worried this will be a recurring issue.  Obviously, that would necessitate having big leads, which would be awesome, but it’s still a bad habit.  My only guess as to the reasoning is that Chip still doesn’t fully trust Foles.

– Overall a good win, but let’s remember that the Redskins aren’t a good team.  We’ll learn a LOT more about the team when it faces Arizona and Detroit after the bye week.  To date, the Eagles “best” win came against a Green Bay team playing with its 3rd string QB.  It remains to be seen whether the Eagles rank within the “mediocre” division of the NFL.  They’ve lost against Dallas and San Diego…which would suggest they’re at the bottom of that subset of teams.  If so, they’ll have trouble against the Cardinals.

– Still researching the topic, but safe to say that Nick Foles is at least close to doing something unprecedented.

He now has a career rating of 97.6, with 22 TDs and just 5 interceptions.  He’s also rushed for 3 TDs.

His rating this season is currently 128.  The single-season record is 122.5 (Aaron Rodgers).

Under Chip Kelly, he’s seen significant playing time in 6 games…he’s won 5 of them.

His career interception rate is now 1.2%.  The NFL Record for a career rate is 1.7% (Aaron Rodgers…yeah, he’s really good).

As I showed at the end of last week, few QBs have, at ANY point in their careers, had a career rating that as high as Foles does now.  The fact that Foles has it 15 appearances and 11 starts into his career is a very good sign.

Naturally, it’s a safe bet that Foles won’t maintain this level of play.  The next question, though, is:

What are the odds a “bad” QB could have a stretch of games like this?

How about a “mediocre” QB?

We could probably turn to Bayesian analysis to help out, but for now, it’s enough to know that the odds of either situation aren’t very good.  When you then consider that fact that he’s doing it to start his career, I think it’s safe to say Foles’ odds are now pointing heavily in favor of at least “solid NFL starter” and potentially much higher.

– Last point.  Chip was correct in going for it on 4th and 1.  There’s just not much to gain from punting the ball there, especially in comparison to the relatively high likelihood of maintaining possession.  I was much more concerned about the play-call.  It looked like a delayed handoff, which would be an inexplicable call (especially to Bryce Brown).  However, it may also have just been a miscommunication.  Unfortunately, the announcers had already stopped calling the game and were too busy to bother talking about it.  I don’t think we even got a replay.  I’ll have to review the film, but my first impression was: right strategy, wrong play.

 

P.S. It’s week 12 (practically) and the Eagles are entering their bye week in first place.

Eagles vs. Redskins: Pre-game notes

Looking forward to today’s game; here’s what is important to watch for:

-A cynical note:  It’s close to impossible to actively root against the team during the game, but a win here could prove hugely expensive.  Just remember, a top 3 pick in the draft is a lot more fun than a meaningless win in December.  Also, though I’ll never actively root for a division opponent, I think I’m in the majority when I say I’d much rather see RG3 in the playoffs then Eli Manning or Tony Romo (though watching Romo fail is hugely entertaining if a bit predictable.)

– Nick Foles.  Foles is coming off a relatively weak performance…expect him to bounce back.  The Redskins are among the worst pass-defenses in the league, allowing 285 yards per game through the air.  Their pass-rush has also struggled, notching just 25 sacks, tied for 28th in the league.  All-in-all, Foles should have the time and space to move the offense, so there will probably be a lot of fans trying to jump back on the bandwagon after today.

-Emil Igwenagu.  This is a bit of a wildcard, as there is still no clear indication of how he will be used or how much he will play.  However, Igwenagu has the strength/size/toughness to be a good blocking fullback.  Normally this wouldn’t mean much, but if we take Andy Reid out of the picture for next year, it’s not difficult to see the offense transitioning to more run-emphasis.  Imagine a full-speed McCoy/Brown tandem running behind a rejuvenated O-Line.  Add in a powerful run blocker out of the fullback position and it becomes a very intriguing prospect, especially when you remember DeSean will be there to keep defenses honest.  It probably won’t amount to much, and this could easily be the most we ever talk about Igwenagu, but for today I’m paying close attention and hoping he gets a chance to play.

-Fletcher Cox.  Assuming RG3 starts and plays without any noticeable limitations, this should be a tough assignment for Cox.  To date, he has proven himself as a strong pass rusher, either with the straight bull-rush or by using his hands to get separation at the snap before using his explosiveness to blow by his blocker.  Normally this is great, as collapsing the pocket from the inside disrupts just about every play.  However, against a QB like RG3, this can be an issue as it creates running lanes and makes it harder to contain the QB (assuming he can avoid Cox’s initial pressure).  I’m not sure how they’re going to play RG3, but if it were me, I’d be focused on containment and rely on the DBs to cover (the Washington WRs shouldn’t really scare anyone.)  If that’s the case, then we may see a dip in performance from the rookie DT, as he’s more successful when he can attack rather than react.

-The LB’s. Should be a rough day for Demeco and Co.  The RG3/Alfred Morris combo is a bad matchup, since they put a lot of pressure on the LBs (not exactly the Eagles’ strength.)  Morris is a strong runner both inside and out, and can be tough to bring down.  Hopefully Kendricks can use his speed to make a few plays, but in a one-on-one Morris-Kendricks battle, you’d have to bet on Morris coming out on top.  Also, I think we can safely assume that The Invisible Man (Jamar Chaney for those who forget) will remain invisible.

-Colt Anderson.  This should be a fun game to watch Colt.  He’ll either make a few big plays or look ridiculous.  The running attack of the Redskins plays to Colt’s strength, but he also has a propensity to lose his angle when attacking, making him vulnerable to missed tackles.  He played a solid game last week, but this offense is an entirely different challenge.

-RG3. I typically don’t highlight opposing players because it’s not within the purview of this blog, but RG3 is special.  For any fans who don’t have RedZone or Sunday Ticket, you’ve been missing out.  It’s possible RG3’s career gets derailed by injury or that he adjusts his game to avoid contact, but for now he might be the most entertaining player in the league.  It sucks that he plays for the Redskins, and I’m sure we’ll all grow to hate him if he kills the Eagles over the next 10 years, but for now I encourage everyone to enjoy the show.

Nick Foles Perspective

Sensing a few people jumping off the Foles bandwagon.  He had a rough game against a good defense, but let’s not get crazy (i.e. suggesting a trade for Kirk Cousins.)  Figured I’d add a little perspective on what rookie QBs often look like.  Below are the first year QB ratings and TD/INT ratios for each QB (first year = first year with significant playing time).

Alex Smith – 74.8 rating, 16/16

Peyton Manning – 71.2, 26/28

Drew Brees – 76.9, 17/16

Joe Flacco – 80.3, 14/12

Eli Manning – 75.9, 24/17

Obviously there are first year QBs that have done much better, but the point is that it really isn’t rare for QBs to improve dramatically from their early performance.  I’m not suggesting Foles is going to be Manning/Brees, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that giving Foles the starting gig next year is a smart play (not just because he is the only real option).

At this point, here’s what we know:

Foles has prototypical size for a QB.  He is very accurate on short-medium throws. He has trouble spotting his deep throws.  He’s very slow but moves very well in the pocket.

It’s not much, but it’s enough that I’m intrigued to see what he can do with an upgraded line and starting-caliber weapons.  He’s obviously going to be a focus of the Game Rewind the next two weeks, but for now there’s no reason to be anything but hopeful about his potential.

Does Nick Foles = Bobby Hoying 2.0?

(See today’s Philly.com article by Phil Sheridan)

Short Answer:  I don’t think so.

Longer Answer: While there are some eerie similarities, there is a large piece of evidence that points to Nick Foles having a higher probability of long-term success than Bobby Hoying had after his promising start.

Phil Sheridan points to the team adversity as a reason for Hoying’s failure.  Although that didn’t help, perhaps a larger factor was the accuracy of Hoying.  There are a number of attributes necessary for QB success, but accuracy is among the most important (if you don’t believe me please look at the current leaderboard).  While completion percentage is an imperfect measure (not accounting for drops, distance, throwaways, etc…), it still provides a decent indication of how good a QB is at getting the ball to where he wants it to go.  Furthermore, it is a measure that is rarely every significantly improved upon by players making the jump to the pro’s, that is, completion percentage in college is a good indication a player’s potential professional completion percentage.

Bobby Hoying’s college completion percentage was 58%, which is not terrible for college, but a very weak measure for aspiring pro’s (there are currently only two starting NFL QB’s with worse, Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford).

Nick Foles’ college completion percentage was 66.9%. (Of note: Michael Vick’s was 56.5%, which would be by far the worst in the league if he was still starting).

Counterpoint: There is a substantial (and obvious) flaw in the direct comparison of Foles to Hoying: Time.  NFL passing offenses have grown significantly in scale/importance/sophistication since Hoying played, and QB performance has risen substantially.  Hoying’s rookie year, the average NFL completion percentage was just 56%.  The current average for starting QBs is 61.62%.  However, there is a strong case to be made that as teams have emphasized passing, they have changed the methods for scouting QBs, weighing things like completion percentage more heavily than in the past (while lessening the attention paid to “intangibles”).  I believe its fair to say that overall QB play in today’s game is substantially better than in 1997 (Hoying’s rookie year).  In fact, it’s likely that if Hoying’s college career was evaluated for the draft today, he would be a much lower draft choice than #85 (if he was drafted at all).

Regardless, the relative comparison of each player’s college completion percentage to the league at the time of their respective rookie year’s suggests Foles has much more potential for success (relative to league average).

Pre-Game Notes: Eagles vs. Bucs

A few pre-game thoughts/notes:

– Kurt Coleman is out with a chest injury, meaning Colt Anderson will likely get major PT (Andy Reid has shown no inclination towards Sims).  While I’d normally be excited by anything involving the words “Kurt Coleman” and “not playing”, Colt Anderson has looked lost in limited playing time (against the Lions he was solely responsible for 2 TDs if I remember correctly).

– The Bucs’ pass defense is terrible, giving up an average of 309 ypg.  Their run defense, however, is ranked #1 in the league.

THINGS TO  WATCH FOR:

– Given the Bucs’ defensive strengths/weaknesses, this should be a showcase game for Nick Foles.  Tampa Bay actually has less sacks this year than the Eagles do (Bucs – 18, Eagles – 20), meaning Foles should have plenty of time.  Pay particular attention to his downfield attempts, as thats an area of his game we haven’t seen much of.

– While the Bucs are 30th in sacks, they are 4th in interceptions, meaning Foles’ decision making has to be good if he’s going to avoid turning it over.

– Brandon Graham is coming off arguably the best game of his career.  With increased playing time (with Babin gone), the next few games will go a long way towards determining whether he is a complete bust or can be a contributor.

– Under Todd Bowles, opposing QB’s have a 142.4 passer rating, with 16 TDs and 0 interceptions.  This is a historically bad stretch of defense.  Watch the DE alignment to see if they’ve truly abandoned the wide-9.  If so, we should see them less susceptible to the PA seam routes that have torched them all year.

– Tampa Bay is favored by 7.5.  The fact that the Eagles are 7.5 point underdogs to a 6-6 team is both remarkable and sad.  Against the spread this year, the Eagles are 2-9-1, the worst record in the league.  Meaning they have been the most consistently overrated team in the league (by the betting market).

Week 13: Eagles vs. Cowboys

This week on Eagles Rewind:

-Initial Thoughts From Eagles/Cowboys

-Why Wide-9 Sucks (In Pictures)

-Let’s Talk About Nick Foles Part 1 (In Pictures)

-Let’s Talk About Nick Foles Part 2 (In Pictures)

-You Mean We Should Cover Jason Witten? (In Pictures)

Initial thoughts:

Nick Foles had his best performance, by far.  For the first time this season, Foles managed to consistently make more than one read and was finally given an opportunity to throw some deep balls, which he did with some success.

He reaffirmed my view that he is much more mobile than he was given credit for coming out of Arizona, and he was able to repeatedly use his legs to buy himself time (and delivered accurate throws when he moved out of the pocket)

However, Dallas’ defense is mediocre, so let’s not get too excited just yet.  A lot of the passes Foles completed were to open receivers and though he delivered the ball in stride to most, he didn’t have to (or didn’t try to) fit the ball into tight windows.

In any case, he certainly showed a lot more promise then he has over the past few weeks. But remember that Andy Reid made AJ Feeley look like a starting QB or a little while.  It’s best to focus on his progressions, accuracy, and decision making over the rest of the season rather than look at his stat line.

Bryce Brown really is that good.  Granted the fumbles are a problem, but a McCoy/Brown tandem definitely has the talent to be among the best running attacks in the league (and it’s a near certainty that the next coach will run the ball more than Reid has).

The safeties really are that bad.  With every game, my opinion of Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen gets worse (which is really remarkable considering how low it was to start the season).  I really don’t see any way for either of these two players to become dependable starters.  Both are weak in coverage and take terrible angle’s when stepping up to make a tackle.  Neither shows any evidence of a reasonable football IQ.  Though I realize it sounds like hyperbole, after watching lots of tape, I really do believe the Allen/Coleman duo is among the worst in recent history.  Just really dreadful play all season, and frankly, most of the time I feel embarrassed for them when watching the replays.  There’s still a slight chance its scheme-related, but I think the odds of that are now very low.

Play 1:  Why the Wide-9 Sucks

At this point, most people realize the huge weaknesses of the Wide-9 , and thankfully the Eagles have moved on from it.  However, I felt it would be helpful to show a quick example that illustrates why it’s so easy to beat.  Here is Dallas’ first play from scrimmage:

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The result of this play is a 14 yard run.  Notice the Wide-9 alignment of the Eagles d-line.  At the snap (below), both ends rush straight upfield, leaving a large hole on either side of the line (Demarco Murray will rush left).  At this point, as we can see from the picture, either the corner needs to shed his block and make a tackle or the safety needs to step up.  Here, Coleman makes the play (barely, he takes a bad angle) and pushes Murray OB, but not before Murray has a large gain.

Eagles Cowboys 2

Obviously this is a very exploitable weakness, because the Cowboys take advantage of it again on the very next play:

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Look familiar?  Again, both ends rush straight upfield, leaving gaping holes on either side of the line.  Here, Asomugha makes a good play, getting off his block and limiting it to an 8 yard gain.

Sadly, the plays above have been run repeatedly against the Eagles the entire season, and it took until this week for Reid to finally admit that the Wide-9 as a base alignment is a terrible strategy.

Play 2:  Let’s Talk About Nick Foles (Part 1)

This play is one that a lot of people have highlighted, and rightfully so.  It’s 1st down, with the Eagles up 7-3 and the ball on their own 19 yard line.  Dallas shows a big blitz, though ends up rushing just one extra, with 5 defenders going after Foles.  Here is the pre-snap alignment:

Eagles Cowboys 6

At the snap, Dallas’ slot corner (top of the screen) blitzes , with the safety picking up coverage.  The left DE (seen standing above) will actually drop into coverage, while the strongside LB blitzes.  This is a very well designed blitz.  The DT on the strong-side (top of the screen) stunts towards the middle, bringing the guard with him.  Meanwhile, the corner blitz forces the LT to pick him up wide, leaving an open lane for the LB to come through.  Seen below:

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Above and below are both shots of what Foles is looking at just before he gets hit (with the picture below taken as he releases the ball.  Notice (particularly in the shot below) the big lane on the left side of the line.  This is why the LB got pressure so quickly.  However, Foles beats this blitz for a big gain, as the Dallas LB does not get enough depth on his coverage drop, leaving a hole for Celek in the middle of the field.

Eagles Cowboys 8

Seen above, Foles delivers the ball between the LBs and hits Celek at the hash-mark for a gain of 19 yards.  This particular play is one with which Vick struggled mightily (both leading his receiver and throwing into the face of a blitz).

Also note, Foles’ size gives him a big advantage when facing this type of pressure, as he can both see over the rusher and is tall enough to deliver the ball over him without getting it tipped.

Play 3: Let’s Talk About Foles Part 2

Here is a play that did not grab as much attention as the previous one, though I think it’s a great example of one of Foles’ strengths as well as a clear illustration of how much yardage Vick left on the field as a result of his poor accuracy (inability to hit receivers in stride).

The Eagles have 3rd and 6 on the Dallas 33.  After the first down the Eagles will proceed to score a TD, with this play the most important of the drive (aside from the scoring play of course).  Pre-snap, the Eagles have a single back set, with 2 WRs split to either side.  Jeremy Maclin is lined up in the left slot and will motion across the formation from left to right.

Eagles Cowboys 9

The ball is snapped just as Maclin clears the line:

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Maclin runs a slant while the other two receivers run deep outs (10yd and 15 yd), clearing their defenders from the middle of the field.  As a bonus, the DB covering Maclin gets caught in the traffic, giving him the space to make an easy catch. Below is at the moment of release, we can see Maclin breaking towards the middle of the field, which as a result of strong play design, has no defenders in it.

Eagles Cowboys 11

What ultimately makes this play successful though, is that Nick Foles delivers the ball to Maclin in stride, meaning Maclin isn’t forced to sacrifice his separation by waiting for the ball.  So even though Maclin catches the ball at the 30 yard line, he is able to maintain his speed and isn’t tackled until he reaches the Dallas 12.  Below is Maclin catching the ball.  Notice the progression from the picture above, he is still moving forwards at the time of the catch, and look at the ridiculous amount of open field ahead of him.

Eagles Cowboys 12

Play 4:  You Mean We Should Cover Jason Witten?

Our final play rewind is one I’m sure everyone who watched the game remembers.  Keeping the spirit of the season alive, the defense decides to let Jason Witten run clear down the middle of the field for a TD (he’s tackled at the 1 yard line and Murray runs it in from there, but this is essentially the scoring play).  At this point the Eagles are up 14-3 with about 1 minute remaining in the 2nd quarter, so to say this is a pivotal moment of the game is an understatement.

So how did it happen?

The Cowboys have 1st and 10 on the Eagles 29 yard line.  Here is the pre-snap look:

Eagles Cowboys 13

The Eagles are in a Nickel defense, with the Cowboys lining up with 3 WRs and a single back to Romo’s left.  Witten is on the right side of the line and will cut underneath the LB before running a seem-route (straight up the middle of the field).

Below is after the snap as Romo reaches the depth of his drop. The Eagles have only rushed 4, meaning there should be plenty of defensive help in the d-backfield (The Eagles have 7 defenders back versus the Cowboys’ 4 receivers).  However, in the shot below we can see the start of what goes wrong.  Kurt Coleman (eager to keep his crown as Worst Eagles Starter) can be seen running to double-cover Dez Bryant (on the bottom of the picture).  Let’s forget for a moment that the corner here is Nnamdi, who was really never suppose to need help in the form of a standard double-cover (as opposed to over-the-top deep help every once in a while).  Meanwhile, Nate Allen, the other safety, is rolling towards the top of the screen.  This appears to be the designed coverage, as the defense shouldn’t allow one half of the field to be played 2 v. 2 when there are extra defenders, though the final look makes me think Allen may have messed up.

Eagles Cowboys 14

Though it’s impossible to know exactly who’s mistake it was (without someone admitting it), it’s very clearly either Coleman (the obvious choice) or Nate Allen (which I’ll explain in a moment).  regardless, in the picture above we can see Witten coming upfield between the LBs, who let him go and maintain their zone.

Below is just after the pass has been thrown, and we can see a wide open Witten in the middle of the field, with no defender within 7 yards (or even looking at him for that matter).  Outrageous breakdown in defense, especially when you consider two things: ITS JASON WITTEN, one of the greatest receiving TE’s in the history of the league and Romo’s favorite target, and HE ALREADY HAS 4 CATCHES and has been thrown to 6 times, easily leading the Cowboys for both receptions and targets.  In light of both, he should probably have been a focus of the defense.

Eagles Cowboys 15

Final note on this play from the picture above.  Notice Nnamdi’s coverage on the bottom left of the picture.  It certainly looks like he is playing over top, while Coleman appears to be in a decent underneath position.  This may be a coincidence, but if the Eagles were bracketing Dez Bryant, this is what it should look like.  Conversely, the coverage to the top of the screen is pretty clearly single man-to-man.  If this is the case, then it’s probably Nate Allen who screwed up (perhaps he was confused by Witten’s route, which cut from one hash mark (on Allen’s side) to the other before becoming a seam route.

Final Notes:

– Brandon Graham had 1.5 sacks and 4 QB hits.  He is quietly starting to show at least some of the skill that made the Eagles draft him so high.

– The Eagles were 3-3 in the Red Zone.

– Tony Romo’s QB Rating was 150.5, continuing the historically bad stretch for the Eagles Pass Defense.

– Nick Foles was sacked just once and hit only 3 times.  In general, the O-Line played much better then it has all year, but making the jump from terrible to mediocre isn’t overly encouraging.

– Oh yeah, the Eagles had a return TD.  Remember when everyone was excited that we hired Bobby April?