USA Today Sports

These Eagles' big-play stats are surprising

Eliot Shorr-Parks
October 17, 2018 - 1:29 pm

The Eagles' offense might not seem like it is as explosive as it was last season. 

The reality is, however, they are actually just as capable of making a big play down the field -- and are on pace to make even more big plays than they did last season. 

“We got a handful of guys. We’ve seen it from Nelson, obviously. Alshon is always a guy that can make plays down the field. J-Matt last week, we almost had one in the end zone. Shelton Gibson when he comes in, he gives us a spark," quarterback Carson Wentz said Wednesday on the Eagles' ability to get the ball down the field. "I’m not too concerned about that. I think we have lots of guys with the ability to take the top off the defense. To stretch it out. I like where we are at with that.”

Last season the Eagles finished with 43 completions of 20-yards or more, which was good for 21st in NFL. They had nine completions of 40-yards or more, which was good for 11th in NFL. They finished 20th overall in yards-per-game (256) and third in points per game (28.6). 

Their numbers through six games this season do not look overly impressive by themselves. The Eagles have 17 completions of 20-yards or more (22nd in NFL). They have four completions of 40-yards or more (10th in NFL). They are 13th in yards-per-game (233.6) and 20th in points per game (22.8). 

"It's hard to go 12 and 14 plays all the time, nine plays," head coach Doug Pederson said. "You want to be able to put five and six-play drives together, but you need a chunk in there somewhere."

The major difference between the offense this season compared to last year has been the red zone. This season the Eagles are 15th in the NFL, converting 56% of their trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdown. Last season they were 2nd overall at 64%. 

The fact the offense is averaging more yards per game this season than it did last year is surprising when you consider how ugly it has looked at times. If the offense keeps at this same pace, however, they will end the year with more completions of 40-plus yards (10) than they had last season and more completions of 20-plus yards (45) than they had last season. 

The fact they are accomplishing this despite not having the two players they counted on the most to stretch defenses—Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace—is surprising.

The fact they have done it with a rotating set of skill players due to injuries— including quarterback— is even more impressive. 

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