Jul 182010

July 18 Philadelphia Inquirer

 “Today, we take a look at expectations for Eagles running backs LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell and Leonard Weaver.

As I continue to digest the Eagles chapter in the 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac, different nuggets have caught my attention.

One of the main items has to do with the running backs and Weaver. You thought Weaver had a great 2009 season. I thought Weaver had a great 2009 season. And by pretty much all accounts, he did. The Eagles were obviously pleased with his performance, rewarding Weaver with a three-year deal this offseason.

But consider this stat. When the Eagles ran the ball out of a single-back formation last year, they averaged 5.2 yards per carry. When they ran the ball with two backs, they averaged just 3.1 yards per carry.

How do you explain the discrepancy? An obvious factor is that teams are not as likely to expect a run when the Eagles go with just one back. But if you look at the numbers, it’s not that simple. When the Eagles went with two running backs, they called a running play 40 percent of the time, the second-lowest percentage in the league out of those formations. They were still more likely to pass with two running backs on the field, so it’s not really accurate to say that defenses could key on the run in those situations.

Per the FOA’s findings, the Eagles lined up with just one running back on 67 percent of their offensive plays, the seventh-highest percentage in the league. And they ran the ball 41 percent of the time on first down – the second-lowest mark in the league.”

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