Quantifying the Eagles' Thursday Offense

Just how good was the Eagles' first-team offense in building their 17-0 halftime lead?

A few days ago, we quantified the Eagles' defensive improvements over one half of play, and the results were a bit more middling than we would have guessed, despite shutting the Steelers out for a half.

Looking at the offense, however, and the opposite is true. Philadelphia's first-teamers, led by Nick Foles, were as efficient as their 2013 form, and then some.

Cold Hard Football Facts employs a metric known as Offensive HOG Index. Essentially, a team's HOG rating is determined by three separate stats:

*Rushing Yards Per Attempt - very straightforward, the average amount of yards gained per run play.

*Negative Pass Play Percentage - the percentage of passing downs that end with a sack or an interception.

*Third Down Percentage - another simple one, the percentage of third downs converted.

Cold Hard Football Facts averages together each team's ranking in all three categories to determine who has the most powerful offensive push in the NFL.

Last season, the Eagles were eighth overall in Offensive HOG, coming in first in rushing yards per attempt (5.15), 19th in NPP% (10.19%, thanks to a ton of sacks), and 12th in third down percentage (38.97% converted).

How did the Birds look on Thursday in all three categories?


4.8 yards a run would have been the third best average in the NFL last season; had the Eagles averaged that number, they would have fallen to second behind Minnesota's 4.92 YPA average.

The Eagles ran for 72 yards on 15 carries in the first half, as LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, and Matthew Tucker took turns teeing off on a Steelers defense that couldn't substitute, and ended up bullied around by Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, and the rest of the Eagle blockers.

Early on, McCoy lost five yards on a busted run. If that play never happens, the Eagles would have averaged 5.5 yards a run for the half. The Steelers defense allowed 4.27 YPA last season (21st in the NFL), as Dick LeBeau's modern Steel Curtain is rusting into nothingness.


The most impressive aspect of the Eagles' first-half performance was the clean game they played. Only one Negative Pass Play in 29 dropbacks for Nick Foles, and that ended up merely a fluke play.

Had Sproles not stumbled over Todd Herremans' legs, Troy Polamalu wouldn't have slid in and nabbed the errant screen pass. Such as it was, it was the only mistake on the part of the offense, and it took a chain reaction to take place.

More impressive: no sacks allowed. Allen Barbre stepped up after early trouble with Jason Worilds, while Peters handily trounced Cameron Heyward and anyone else that attacked from the blind side. It was a textbook lesson on how to block, and it gave the Eagles a lower NPP% than the NFL's best in 2013 (Denver's 4.32%).


Two-thirds of the money downs converted, extending drives that led to three different scores. What more can be said? McCoy, Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, and Zach Ertz all stepped up and made plays when plays needed to be made.

The only three fails led to an Alex Henery 36-yard field goal (yes, he actually made it) and a pair of Donnie Jones punts. While hard to maintain such an average through the year (San Diego led the NFL with a 49.03% conversion rate last season), converting over half of a team's attempts will only lead to good things. Nailing two-thirds flawlessly? Even better.

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