Andy Reid: By The Numbers

In her Friday ESPN Column, Ashley Fox posits that “Reid will survive Eagles’ nightmare.” She presents a good case, and tops it off with this nugget:

Reid is also under contract through 2013. Buying him out would not be cheap.

So take a deep breath, and be prepared for a Reid Redux in 2012. That said, I’m worried. I’m worried because if you’re not getting better in the NFL, you’re getting worse. I broke down Donovan McNabb’s numbers here back in April 2010 when McNabb was traded. So let’s dissect the Reid era.

Andy Reid, Wins By Year

1999-2004: On the Way Up

Obviously 1999 was the beginning of the rebuilding. Interestingly, Reid’s first year, 5-win total actually improved upon 1998’s 3 win campaign, the last under Ray Rhodes. Throw out all the other stats: wins matter. And win he did, steadily rising up to 2004’s 13 win total (which, had they had anything to play for the last few weeks of the season, would have undoubtedly be greater). Note the consistency.

1999-2004: Summary

4 consecutive division titles, 5 consecutive trips to the playoffs, 7 playoff wins, 4 consecutive NFC Championship Games, and a Super Bowl appearance.

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 GP W L Pct.
5-11 11-5 11-5 12-4 12-4 13-2 96 64 31 .667

2005-2011: On the Way Down

To quote the Wikipedia entry on the matter, “The 2005 Philadelphia Eagles season was a complete disaster for the team.” Between the Terrell Owens show and the injuries – and the post-Super Bowl hangover – it got ugly. Since 2004’s 13 wins, the Eagles have failed to win more than 11 games – and they’ve done that only once.

2005-2011: Summary

In the 7 seasons from 2005-2011, Reid’s earned 2 division titles, 4 playoff appearances, 3 playoff wins, and 1 NFC Championship appearance. Granted 2011 isn’t over yet, but I’m willing to bet that they aren’t getting to the playoffs this year.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 GP W L Pct.
6-10 10-6 8-8 9-6-1 11-5 10-6 3-6 105 57 47 .543

End of an Era?

Not only has Reid been on a downward spiral since 2005, but he has also been maddeningly inconsistent. And not only from season to season, but within seasons. Consider 2006; the Eagles were 5-6 before miraculously running off 5 consecutive wins to seize the division.

In 2009 they seemed to catch lightning in a bottle, but still came up short.  Mike Vick’s 2010 season clouded the reality of a team in disarray. The team we saw at the conclusion of the 2010 season was in fact the Real Eagles – the Eagles we see before us now. A bad team.

His teams since 2005 have shown Zero signs of the steady, consistent improvement that marked the first half of his tenure here.

The Reid era ended in January 2005.  The numbers bear it out.

Week 15 NFL Picks

Mike “Jerk or Genius” Shanahan Edition

I suppose the only way you can get rid of both Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman at the end of 2010 is to throw McNabb under the bus, and then to let Grossman actually play. Shanahan was “honest” to a fault when explaining the decision to bascially run over McNabb 4 or 5 times with several buses. No one can explain Mike’s letting Rex Grossman play in an NFL game.

The Real Winner: Andy Reid

Asked for an explanation, Shanahan turned to an impenetrable form of double (possibly triple) talk:

“I think there’s a lot of mistakes that you make. You really don’t know if you made a mistake, but if you do make one, you make it and you go on. What I want to do is evaluate where we’re at at the end of the season, then I will tell you if we erred or not.” (From ESPN).

You said it, Mike. That pretty much sums up the Washington Redskins under Daniel Snyder.

1pm

  • ST. LOUIS -3 over Kansas City. *Shrug* someone has to win.
  • Houston +2 over TENNESSEE. Maybe Jeff Fisher can coach the Broncos into obscurity next year.
  • Jacksonville +4 over INDIANAPOLIS. MJD, MJD, MJD. There. Now try to stop him.
  • Arizona +2½ over CAROLINA. The Panthers are listed as the favorite! Oh I see, they’re playing the Cardinals.
  • Clevlaned PICK EM over Cincinnati. I hate the Bungle. I hope their rebuilding process includes new team colors, uniform design and name.
  • Buffalo +5½ over MIAMI. Yeah, I think Miami will win. 9-6.
  • Philadelphia +3 over NY GIANTS. Giants turn the ball over too much, the Eagles take it away even more. Until that formula changes, I like the Eagles.
  • Dallas -9 over WASHINGTON. The Redskins are the worst organization in football. Not even the Bengals have Bungled everything as badly as Washington has.
  • TAMPA BAY -4 over Detroit. I like this Tampa team, and it starts with their quarterback.
  • New Orleans +2 over Baltimore. I don’t believe in the Ravens.

4pm(ish)

  • SEATTLE +6 over Atlanta. Maybe the Seattle Schizophrenics keep it close.
  • PITTSBURGH -4 over NY JETS. Woe to thee Mark Sanchez, why did you pick now to start doubting yourself?
  • OAKLAND -8 over Denver. Can you imagine the grin on Al Davis’ face if the Raider win 59-14 again?

Sunday Night

  • NEW ENGLAND -14 over Green Bay. I think Green Bay is going to fall out of playoff contention.

Monday Night

  • Chicago -7½ over MINNESOTA. *Yawn* Everybody’s whining about the Field, the Field Conditions, potential for injury, lack of luxury suites, etc.

Donovan McNabb – By The Numbers

Trade Reaction

Reaction to the recent trade of Dovovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Washington Redskins has been every bit as polarized as the fans’ feelings about McNabb himself. Beloved or hated, a Franchise Savior or an overrated and petulant primadonna.

Eagles fans seem just as divided as to why the Eagles didn’t capture a Super Bowl title during McNabb’s reign as the starting quarterback. Was it McNabb’s inaccuracy and his inability to come up big at crunch time? Or was it Andy Reid’s Ego and Arrogance, inflated to proportions that would make Arachne gasp?

By any statistical measure – other than number of championships – Donovan McNabb is the best quarterback ever to play for the Eagles. I’m inclined to defer to Ray Didinger, who says here that Donovan is second to Norm Van Brocklin in Eagles’ history. Still, he’s been pretty damn good for a long, long time.

The trade was made for myriad reasons; it isn’t simply about McNabb’s skills. It’s a money move, a future move – it’s time to turn the page. It’s difficult to find anyone who – once they set aside their emotions – could disagree. Whether Kevin Kolb is the answer no one can say. I’m cautiously optimistic, but of course I’m an Eagles’ fan.

But in Philadelphia, Donovan’s had 10 seasons as the starter, and we just couldn’t seem to get it done with him.

Crunching The Numbers

One of the more startling numbers that jumped out at me is Donovan McNabb’s winning percentage. The usually reliable Len Pasquarelli argues here that  “[Kolb] will struggle to approximate the .651 winning mark McNabb accomplished in 11 seasons with the Philadelphia franchise.” Donovan won 10 (of 14) games just last year, a mark of .714. (On the misery index, let us consider that the Detroit Lions won just 9 games in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons combined.)

But in the NFL, you are either rising or falling. Is Donovan on an upward trajectory? Does he have his 5 best years ahead of him or behind him? Let us marshall the evidence. For this breakdown, I left out the 1999 season. While Donovan did see action, he wasn’t the full year starter, it was his rookie year, and Andy Reid’s rookie year. And also that makes 11 seasons and a weird breakdown. So I used the last 10 seasons, during which he was the Day One Starter.

2000 to 2004: 5’s First 5? Fine!

Donovan’s first five years were awfully good. A gaudy .740 winning percentage and a Super Bowl Appearance. During that span, Donovan missed 6 games due to injury. The Eagles made the playoffs each of those years, reaching the NFC Championship game 4 consecutive years. He ran for 2,146 yards during that time and scored 120 points. He appeared in 13 playoff games, going 8-5.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 GP W L Pct.
11-5 11-5 7-31 12-4 13-22 73 54 19 .740

Note 1: McNabb missed the final 6 games of the 2002 season, but returned for the playoffs.

Note 2: McNabb was a healthy scratch for the final game of 2004, as the Eagles had wrapped up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

2005-2009: The Middle Years?

From 2005 through 2009, Donovan missed 17 games due to injury. The Eagles made the playoffs 3 of those 5 years, one of which was not with McNabb (2006). He ran for 790 yards and scored 48 points. He appeared in 4 playoff games, going 2-2.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 GP W L Pct.
4-5 4-53 8-6 9-6-1 10-4 624 35 27 .564

Note 3: Jeff Garcia went 5-1 to lead the Eagles to the playoffs, and won a Wild Card game.

Note 4: I didn’t include the Tennessee Game. My memory says that game was long lost before McNabb got hurt, but let’s just leave it out, just in case.

“Feeley and Garcia did just as well… McNabb is the Problem!”

I took a look at the seasons where Feeley (2002) and Garcia (2006) took over due to injury. Both of them led the Eagles into the playoffs and both performed reasonably well. After all, the bottom line is: WIN. These guys did and the Eagles didn’t seem to miss a beat.

“Feeley and Garcia did well because they ran more … Reid is the Problem!”

Not so fast. I broke each of those seasons down, and looked at how many pass attempts were made by McNabb prior to injury and attempts made by Feeley and Garcia after the injury. To get an “average,” I divided that by 60, which is pretty close to the NFL average of offensive plays per game (See also: Pro-Football-Reference.com and Advanced NFL Stats ). Again, the comparison was done within the same season only.

Not surprisingly, in 2002, the Eagles threw the ball 46% of the time with Feeley, with McNabb, 60%. Similary in 2006, McNabb was throwing 58% of the time, and Garcia 45% of the time.

The NFL average in both seasons favored the pass: in 2002, 55%-45%, in 2006, 53%-47%. So the Eagles, doing quite the opposite, did quite well.

But what does this say about the play calling? Regardless of who calls the plays, the head coach – especially in Philadelphia – has significant input. Yes, people, it says here that the Eagles need to run more.

Summary

A lot of pundits mention Donovan’s 5 NFC Championship games. What they fail to mention is: only 1 in the last 5 years. It was time. The numbers support it, the performance supports it. Could McNabb have been more successful with a more “balanced” attack? Yes, I think the numbers support that as well. But in the end, in the big games, Donovan has come up short. And his contract expired in 2011, and Reid’s in 2014.

So it was pretty easy to see who was going.

The Eagles have historically been pretty savvy about knowing when to let go of a player. As much as it hurt to see Brian Dawkins leave, he didn’t beat the Eagles in their game last year, and the Broncos only finished 8-8. And with the youth movement clearly under way, it was time to hand the starring role to the youngster. Welcome to the Kolb era: may it be slightly more successful than the McNabb era.

And did I say the Eagles should run more? Can’t hurt to mention it twice.

Post Script: But to a Division Foe?!

The Washington Redskins seem to make a big splash every offseason. Once upon a time it was Steve Spurrier; last year it was Albert Haynesworth. This year, it’s Donovan McNabb.

I don’t think it’s worth worrying about. As Brett Favre proved, if you want to play in division, you’ll find a way. All the Packers got out of that deal was a 6-10 first year with Aaron Rogers and the #83 pick in the 2009 draft. For Brett Favre. A 3rd Round pick, #83 overall. And of note: that pick didn’t come from the Vikings, who still had all their picks – it came from the Jets. So you essentially gave Favre to the Vikings at no cost to the Vikings.

By contrast, the Eagles, also going with the young quarterback this year, got a 2nd (#37 overall), and a conditional 3rd or 4th pick next year. That’s 2 draft picks. And that’s 2 draft picks the Redskins won’t have.

Some camps say never trade in division. I say do what’s best for your own football team, and the rest will take care of itself. Considering the history of the Eagles and Redskins over the past decade or so, I’m willing to give the Eagles the benefit of the doubt here.

Goodbye, Donovan

So Goodbye, Donovan. Thanks for a great ride, a fun time, and for being a damn solid citizen. My family have been big fans – after all, my son’s name is Trent Donovan. Good luck in Washington.

But not too much.

NFL Training Camp: Eagles in Pads and Other Notes

The pads are on at Lehigh, which means we’re that much closer to the Real Thing. My excitement is mixed with rattled nerves, though, dreading the first article about [fill in the blank] out because of a season-ending injury to his [fill in the blank].

L.J. Smith (who, come to think of it, I’ve personally met) is wearing a Red Jersey, at least for now, according to philly.com. He had a sports hernia operation in May, but looks like he’ll be ready to go. Less certain is his contract status. Perhaps the Eagles are playing wait and see? He’s in the last year of his deal, and I’d expect – if they do want him – they’ll get a deal done before the season is out.

Other than L.J. and Donovan’s recoveries, it seems everyone is relatively good health. I’m very glad to see Jevon is back. The defensive line figures to be immensely improved.

Elsewhere in the NFL…

Daunte Culpepper has signed with the Raiders, according to FoxSports.com.

“When I became a free agent I created and ranked eight criteria that I used to evaluate potential teams that were interested in my services,” Culpepper said. “Based on my criteria, the Oakland Raiders are the best fit.”

Hmm. Eight you say. OK, I’ll step in here and hazard a guess.

    1. Has a Computer.
    2. Has Microsoft Word.
    3. Can type the words “Daunte Culpepper” into the appropriate blanks.
    4. Has a laser printer.
    5. Has paper in the printer.
    6. Can press the “Print” Button.
    7. Has a pen.
    8. With ink in it.

Done Deal! OK, enough of the pot shots at Daunte. I wish him well, though that organization – one I loved in the 70s – is in shambles. If that offensive line is anything like it was last year, that poor man could get himself killed. I don’t know what the Raiders are doing. The basic plan – assuming there is a plan, which according to all available evidence, there isn’t –  seems to be: “whatever.”  The Raiders am become the New Cardinals.

And from Tampa…

Jon Gruden might be losing it.  I’ve been reading a Pasquarelli item at ESPN about Garcia’s (apparent) emergence as the starter in Tampa Bay. It doesn’t seem like Gruden does anything except play musical quarterbacks in his quest to win 6 or 7 games per year. Is there nothing else on that team that needs improvement? And does he seriously expect Garcia to take them to the promised land – of 8 wins?

Garcia did an admirable job with the Eagles last year, but remember he only started 8 games total.  That 5-1 record Pasquarelli cites is misleading, as it includes the season finale in which Garcia was 1 for 3 for 29 yards before Reid – in comically fast fashion – pulled the starters as soon as the Cowboys score came in. (The Cowboy loss ensured the Eagles a home game and the division title.)

In that first playoff game, at home against the Giants, Garcia was 17 for 31 (54.8%), QB rating of 79.1. He hadn’t had anywhere near that low a rating in any of the regular season games he started (again, I’m throwing out the Atlanta non-game). The next lowest rating he’d had was a 90.9 in a victory at New York a few weeks earlier. In that game, he completed 67.9% of his passes.

In the loss at New Orleans, he was rated at 88.2. Decent. However, he was 15 of 30 (50%) for 240 yards. 75 of those on one long TD play.

The loss in New Orleans wasn’t Garcia’s fault, it was much more about the failure of the defense to provide the slightest of speed bumps against the New Orleans rushing attack.

Jeff Garcia was given the keys to a high powered, productive offense. His job was to not lose games. I do not think that, at this stage of his career, he is able to shoulder the load as a starter for 16 games and be anything better than a .500 quarterback.