Eagles-Cowboys: numbers you need to know heading into tonight’s big NFC East battle
The Eagles are tied for 15th in sacks with 14. But 10 of those came in their Week 5 win over the Jets. They’ve got just four sacks in their other five games.
Carson Wentz has one of the league’s lowest completion percentages. Fletcher Cox still doesn’t have a sack. Alshon Jeffery has the lowest yards-per-catch average of his career. The Eagles have given up the second most 40-plus yard pass plays in the league.
But if they can find a way to beat the Cowboys tonight, they’ll be in first place in the NFC East. Go figure. A look at some of the key statistics heading into The Gunfight At the AT&T Corral:
The pass rush problem
--The Eagles are tied for 15th in sacks with 14. But 10 of those came in their Week 5 win over the Jets. They’ve got just four sacks in their other five games.
--Defensive end Brandon Graham leads the team in sacks with four. All of them have come when he’s lined up inside at tackle. All of them have come on third down. And all of them have come with a four-man rush. Eleven of the Eagles’ 14 sacks have been with a four-man rush.
--Fletcher Cox still doesn’t have a sack. It’s only the second time in his career that he’s failed to register at least one sack in the first six games. The other time was in 2014. He didn’t get his first sack that year until the ninth game, and finished with only four, the second fewest of his career. Cox has just four quarterback hits. Through six games last year, Cox had 3 ½ sacks and 11 QB hits.
--Cox is second on the team in quarterback pressures with 24 (0 sacks, 4 hits, 24 hurries). Graham has a team-high 27 (4-5-27), according to Pro Football Focus. The only other defensive player with double-digit pressures is Derek Barnett, who has 20 (2-5-13). Through six games last year, the Eagles had five players with 15 or more quarterback pressure,s four of whom had 24 or more.
--Jim Schwartz blitzed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins six times on 30 pass plays last week (20 percent). Cousins was 4-for-6 for 51 yards when the Eagles sent extra rushers.
--If history is a guide, the Eagles aren’t likely to blitz Dak Prescott much Sunday night. In two games against the Cowboys last season, Schwartz blitzed Prescott just 11 times on 97 pass plays (11.3 percent). Prescott was 8-for-11 for 97 yards with one touchdown when the Eagles blitzed.
Shotgun vs. under center
--The Eagles have run 297 of their 396 offensive plays, or 75 percent, out of shotgun. That shotgun percentage is down slightly from last year when they used shotgun 77.8 percent of the time.
--In their first four games, just 37 of the Eagles’ 115 rushing attempts, or 32.2 percent, were from under center. In their last two games, however, 35 of 51 (68.6 percent) were from under center.
--The Eagles are averaging 4.3 yards per carry out of shotgun and 3.6 from under center. Jordan Howard is averaging 4.8 yards per carry out of shotgun (33-160) and 4.1 from under center (33-137). Miles Sanders is averaging 3.1 yards per carry out of shotgun (41-129) and 4.4 from under center (16-70).
--Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 264 yards on 47 carries in the Cowboys’ two wins over the Eagles last season. That’s 132 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry.
--Elliott averaged 6.0 yards per carry on first down against the Eagles last year. Nine of his 47 carries gained 10 yards or more.
--Elliott is sixth in the league in rushing with 491 yards. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry in the Cowboys’ 3-0 start against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins. In their three straight losses to the Saints, Packers and Jets, he’s averaged just 3.5 yards per carry.
--Elliott averaged 4.5 yards per carry on first down in the first three games (38-169), but just 3.3 in the last three (35-114). He had 10 runs of 10 yards or more in the first three games, six in the last three.
--The Eagles are second in the league in run defense (72.8 yards allowed per game) and second in opponent rush average (3.3). They are third in first down opponent rush average (3.3) and have given up the fifth fewest runs of 10 yards or more (12).
--Like Elliott, Dak Prescott’s numbers haven’t been nearly as impressive in the Cowboys’ three straight losses as they were in their three season-opening wins. Prescott had a 128.0 passer rating in the first three games, including a 74.5 completion percentage, 9.8 yards per attempt and nine touchdown passes. His passer rating the last three weeks is just 82.7 with a 65.8 completion percentage, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
--Prescott played very well in the Cowboys’ two wins over the Eagles last season. He had a 104.2 passer rating in the two games. Completed 75.6 percent of his passes, averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and had four TD passes and two interceptions. The Eagles sacked him seven times in the two games.
--He was unstoppable on third down against the Eagles last year. The Cowboys converted 50 percent of their third-down opportunities in the two wins (17 of 34). Prescott had a 118.6 third-down passer rating, completing 18 of 25 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Fourteen of his 25 third-down pass attempts (56 percent) produced first downs.
--The Eagles had no answer for wide receiver Amari Cooper in the two losses last year. Prescott targeted him 23 times and he caught 16 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Fourteen of his 16 catches resulted in first downs.
--The Eagles already have given up seven pass plays of 40-plus yards. That’s the second most in the league (Green Bay has allowed eight). They gave up six all last year.
--Prescott had just 11 yards on 10 carries in the two wins over the Eagles last season. He had just one rushing first down in the two games.
--Prescott is running a lot less this season. Last year, he ran the ball 75 times (for 305 yards) and had 30 rushing first downs. Through six games this season, he has just 19 rushing attempts (for 133 yards) and 10 rushing first downs.
Catching up with Carson
--The Eagles continued to use a heavy dose of 12-personnel against the Vikings. They went with their one-running back, two tight end, two-wide receiver package on 30 of 65 plays. Carson Wentz completed 13 of 18 passes for 216 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with 12-personnel. He was just 13-for-22 for 92 yards with 11-personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR). The Eagles have used 12-personnel on 52.2 percent of their offensive plays in the last three games. Wentz has a 102.1 passer rating with 12-personnel and an 89.5 rating with 11. He has a 57.9 completion percentage and is averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt with 11-personnel this season.
--Wentz completed just three of nine third-down pass attempts against the Vikings, for 18 yards. Wentz is seventh in the league in third-down passing with a 106.9 passer rating. Five of his 12 TD passes have come on third down. The only quarterback in the league with more third-down TD passes is the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, who has six. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan also has five third-down TD passes.
--The Cowboys, who are second in the league in third-down defense (25.4 opponent success rate), have held opponents to a 48.9 completion rate and 5.6 yards per attempt on third down.
--Wentz has the league’s third highest touchdowns-to-interceptions differential – plus 9 (12 TDs, 3 INTs). The only two quarterbacks who’ve been better are the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (plus-14) and Mahomes (plus-13).
--Wentz is 29th in the league in completion percentage (61.2). He was third last year (69.6). While the focus has been on his deep throws – he’s 9-for-28 for 341 yards, three TDs and three interceptions on throws of 20 or more yards – his accuracy problems have been more in the short and intermediate zones. His completion percentage on 11-to-19-yard throws has dropped from 63.1 last year to 53.8 this year. And his completion percentage on 0-to-10-yard throws has dropped from 75.8 last year to 67.8 this season.
--The Eagles need to figure out a way to get Wentz off to better starts. His 56.0 first-quarter passer rating is the worst in the league among quarterbacks with more than 15 first-quarter pass attempts. So is his 50.0 first-quarter completion percentage.
This and that
--Zach Ertz’s catch rate through six games is 61.1. It was 74.3 last season.
--Alshon Jeffery has 16 catches in the last two games, but averaged just 8.0 yards per catch. Seven of those 16 receptions were throws behind the line of scrimmage. He is averaging a career-low 9.0 yards per catch this season.
--The Cowboys have been outscored in the first half in the last three games, 47-9.
--The Eagles have given up 94 first-half points in their first six games. The only teams that have allowed more are the 1-5 Falcons (107) and the 2-4 Giants (112).