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Eagles-Dolphins: the numbers that matter in this Week 13 battle | Paul Domowitch

A look at the Eagles run game, their problems on third down and some other good stuff as they make their playoff run.

Eagles running back Mile Sanders leaps past Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Al Woods in last week's loss.
Eagles running back Mile Sanders leaps past Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Al Woods in last week's loss.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks will be back this week even if Jordan Howard won’t. Miles Sanders is coming off a solid rushing performance against the Seahawks. The Dolphins have the second-worst run defense in the league. See where I’m going with this?

A breakdown of the Eagles’ run game and other helpful statistical data to get you ready for Eagles-Dolphins:

Grounded in Miami

--The Eagles have a 42.7 run-play percentage, up from last year’s 38.4. They are averaging 28.5 rushing attempts per game, which is the ninth most in the NFL. Last year, they averaged just 24.9 per game.

--In their last two games without Jordan Howard, however, the Eagles have had a 32.1 run-play percentage (44 rushing attempts in 137 plays). In the previous nine games with Howard, their run-play percentage was 45.1. Howard will miss his third straight game Sunday with a stinger.

--Howard is averaging 4.4 yards per carry overall and 4.5 yards per carry on first down.

--Rookie Miles Sanders also is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but only 3.8 on first down. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry on first down against the Seahawks last week, though.

--Sanders is averaging 4.9 yards per carry with 12-personnel (1RB, 2TE, 2WR). He’s averaging just 2.6 yards per carry with 11-personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR). Sanders’ longest run of the season – his 65-yard touchdown run against Buffalo – came with 21-personnel (2RB, 1TE, 2WR). The Eagles have only used 21-personnel nine times this season.

--The Eagles are averaging 4.54 yards per carry in the first quarter, 3.48 in the second quarter, 5.38 in the third quarter and 3.70 in the fourth quarter. Jordan Howard is averaging 4.81 yards per carry in the third quarter. Sanders is averaging 7.52 (188 yards on 25 carries).

--Howard has 28 rushing first downs, six rushing TDs, 17 double-digit-yard runs and nine runs for negative yards in 119 rushing attempts. Sanders has 14 rushing first downs, one rushing touchdown, five double-digit-yard runs and nine runs for negative yards in 99 rushing attempts.

--Jay Ajayi had 16 yards on six carries against Seattle in his first action since re-signing with the Eagles two weeks ago. He had two first downs, including one on an 11-yard run in the first quarter, but failed to convert a second-and-one (loss three yards) in the second quarter and a second-and-three (one-yard gain) in the third quarter.

--Sanders is averaging 4.7 yards per carry on runs out shotgun (65-303), and just 3.9 from under center (34-104). The Eagles have run the ball just 15 times from under center in the last two games, 29 out of shotgun.

--The Dolphins are 31st in run defense (148.2) and tied for 26th in opponent rush average (4.7). They’ve given up 41 runs of 10 yards or more. Only two teams have allowed more – winless Cincinnati (55) and Carolina (44).

--Carson Wentz has 16 rushing first downs on 45 carries this season. He’s tied with the Giants’ Daniel Jones for the fifth most rushing first downs among quarterbacks. The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson has the most – 46. The Bills’ Josh Allen is second with 35, followed by the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray (22) and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson (19).

--Wentz had 17 rushing first downs (on 47 carries) as a rookie, then had 27 (on 64 carries) in 2017 before injuring his knee. Last year, he had just 34 rushing attempts and nine rushing first downs.

Money-down problems

--The Eagles’ third-down production has dropped off dramatically. In their first four games, they converted 56.1 percent of their third downs. Wentz had a 125.7 third-down passer rating, including a 66.7 completion percentage and 9.2 yards per attempt. Twenty-three of his 42 third-down pass attempts (54.7 percent) in those four games produced first downs. In their last eight games, the Eagles have converted just 38.0 percent of their third downs. Wentz’s third-down passer rating in the last eight games: 72.9, including a 53.6 completion percentage and a 4.9-yards-per-attempt average. Just 23 of his 56 third-down passes (41 percent) have resulted in first downs.

--The Eagles converted just 7 of 25 third-down opportunities in their losses to the Patriots and Seahawks, and converted only two of 14 third downs of six yards or more . Wentz was 3-for-7 for 23 yards with a sack and a fumble on third down against the Seahawks. He was 4-for-11 for 34 yards, a touchdown and two sacks in the loss to the Patriots.

--Wentz threw five touchdown passes on third down in the Eagles’ first three games. He didn’t throw another one until his five-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert against the Patriots.

--Wentz has thrown just one interception on third down this season (105 attempts). That was in the Eagles’ Week 2 loss to the Falcons. He didn’t throw any last year on 93 attempts. He’s thrown just two interceptions in the red zone in 240 career passes.

--The Dolphins are 26th in third-down defense. Opponents have converted 43.8 percent of their third-down opportunities against the Dolphins.

The Dolphins have a 102.4 opponent passer rating on third down, which is only 4.4 points better than their overall opponent passer rating (106.8). They’ve given up seven passing touchdowns on third down and have zero third-down interceptions.

Fitz v. Eagles

--Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will be making his seventh start against the Eagles, in his seventh different uniform. He has a 2-3-1 record and 86.0 passer rating against them.

--Last year with the Bucs, he completed 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns in a 27-21 win over the Eagles. He also beat them in 2011 when he was with Buffalo.

This and that

--The Eagles blitzed Russell Wilson last week on 14 of 31 pass plays (45.2 percent). In two previous games against Wilson since becoming the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz had sent extra rushers against Wilson on just eight of 66 pass plays (12.1 percent).

--The Eagles have blitzed on 23.2 percent of their opponents’ pass plays this season. That’s the highest percentage of the Jim Schwartz era. Last year, their blitz percentage was just 15.8.

In last year’s loss to the Bucs, the Eagles blitzed Fitzpatrick on seven of 35 pass plays. He was 6-for-7 for 152 yards and a touchdown when they sent extra rushers.

--Alshon Jeffery is averaging just 6.4 yards per target and 10.4 yards per attempt. He averaged 9.2 yards per target last season and never has averaged less than 13 yards per attempt in his career. Twenty-five of Jeffery’s 34 receptions this season have been on throws of 10 yards or less. Jeffery never has been much of a yards-after-the-catch guy. He’s averaging just 3.5 yards after the catch this season. He averaged 4.2 last year and 3.5 in 2017.

--Zach Ertz has been targeted by Carson Wentz 36 times in the last three games. He has 30 catches for 288 yards, 2 touchdowns and 19 first downs. But the Eagles tight end has no third-down receptions in four of the Eagles’ last six games. They lost all four of those games.