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InFocus: The Best Personnel Packages


Over the past few months, I've posted a pair of articles that examined how the Eagles have historically used a variety of different offensive and defensive personnel packages. The first looked at the past few seasons, while the most recent covered the first few weeks of the 2012 season. Here, I'm going to update the usage of each package this season and check on the success rate of each.

Offense – Passing

Offensive Passing Formations
Package Dropbacks YPA Comp. %
3 WR, 1 HB, 0 FB, 1 TE 246 8.0 66%
2 WR, 1 HB, 0 FB, 2 TE 101 6.2 61%
2 WR, 1 HB, 1 FB, 1 TE 74 8.0 68%
4 WR, 1 HB, 0 FB, 0 TE 35 10.1 79%
3 WR, 1 HB, 1 FB, 0 TE 29 4.0 63%
3 WR, 0 HB, 0 FB, 2 TE 19 7.1 76%
4 WR, 0 HB, 0 FB, 1 TE 9 1.9 43%
1 WR, 1 HB, 1 FB, 2 TE 4 2.7 67%
2 WR, 0 HB, 1 FB, 2 TE 2 0.0 0%
Total 519 7.4 66%

As we concluded in the first two articles, the Eagles' base offense is the 3-1-0-1. DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy were important parts of this package earlier in the year, but both are out with injuries. That leaves Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper on the outside, Jason Avant in the slot, Brent Celek at tight end and Bryce Brown in the backfield. This package has been utilized on 48 percent of the team's 842 offensive snaps this season.

Michael Vick and Nick Foles have combined to complete just under two-thirds of their aimed throws* with this package on the field. That's right in line with their 66 percent mark on all throws. Their 8.0 yards-per-aimed throw mark is more than a half yard higher than the 7.4 mark on all throws. The Eagles have used three or more wide receivers on 62 percent of their snaps this season, which is the league' sixth-highest mark.

*Aimed Throws = Pass Attempts less batted balls, balls disrupted by a hit, spikes and throwaways.

Because they've called 101 passes with the 2-1-0-2 package on the field, it's safe to say that this is the package the Eagles are struggling with the most. The two quarterbacks are averaging just over six yards-per-throw, which is more than a full yard less than the average on all throws. The 61 percent completion rate is also well below production with other packages on the field. No. 2 tight end Clay Harbor has played a total of 22 snaps over the last two weeks after averaging 20.5 snaps-per-game during the first 10 games of the season. It appears Andy Reid is aware of and has adjusted to the passing game's struggles with Harbor on the field. On the year, the Eagles have utilized two-or-more tight ends on 26 percent of their offensive snaps, which ranks 21st in the league.

Not surprisingly, the team's best passing package has proven to be the one that includes four wide receivers and a tailback. The Eagles are racking up 10.1 yards-per-throw and completing just under 80 percent of their throws in this scenario. Only six teams have used four-plus wide receiver sets more than the Eagles this season.

Offense – Rushing

Our next chart focuses on the personnel packages utilized when the Eagles run the ball.

Offensive Rushing Formations
Package Rushes Yards YPC
3 WR, 1 HB, 0 FB, 1 TE 161 946 5.9
2 WR, 1 HB, 0 FB, 2 TE 71 324 4.6
2 WR, 1 HB, 1 FB, 1 TE 52 250 4.8
1 WR, 1 HB, 1 FB, 2 TE 15 -4 -0.3
3 WR, 1 HB, 1 FB, 0 TE 15 43 2.9
3 WR, 0 HB, 0 FB, 2 TE 5 10 2.0
0 WR, 1 HB, 1 FB, 2 TE 4 0 0.0
4 WR, 1 HB, 0 FB, 0 TE 2 9 4.5
2 WR, 1 HB, 0 FB, 1 TE 1 5 2.5
3 WR, 0 HB, 1 FB, 1 TE 1 2 2.0
3 WR, 2 HB, 0 FB, 0 TE 1 -1 -1.0
Total 329 1,584 4.8

(one extra offensive lineman on the field)*

We already know that the Eagles' favorite offensive package on pass plays is the 3-1-0-1. The same can be said about run plays, as 49 percent of their runs have come with three wideouts and one tight end on the field. Averaging 5.9 yards per carry in this scenario, the results have been excellent, and certainly superior to their other packages.

The Eagles' red zone production has been affected by the team's success when utilizing their heavy packages. With either zero or one wideout on the field, the Eagles have lost 4 rushing yards on 19 carries. The NFL average in that situation is 3.0 yards per carry.

In two-wide situations, we see that the Eagles have had slightly more success with fullback Stanley Havili in the game (4.8 yards per carry), rather than Harbor (4.6). The Eagles are averaging 3.3 yards per carry on all carries when Havili is on the field. That certainly isn't good, but it's definitely deflated by heavy usage of the fullback in short-yardage/goal line situations.

Defense – Passing

Defensive Passing Formations
Package Dropbacks YPA Comp. %
4 DL, 2 LB, 5 DB 251 7.6 63%
4 DL, 3 LB, 4 DB 128 9.9 73%
4 DL, 1 LB, 6 DB 29 7.7 61%
5 DL, 2 LB, 4 DB 7 2.8 50%
4 DL, 4 LB, 3 DB 1 7.0 100%
Total 416 8.2 66%

Next, we're taking a look at the packages in place when the opponent calls a pass. It's important to remember that, although defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (and previously Juan Castillo) doesn't know what play the offense will call, he, of course, is making an educated guess based on game situation, down, distance and offensive personnel.

In the absolute broadest of terms, defenses are generally classified as 4-3 or 3-4. The Eagles fit the 4-3 bill, and, as our data shows, they keep a pair of ends and a pair of tackles on the field often. With Jason Babin now in Jacksonville, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham are the primary ends, while Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins are the primary run stuffers. Only six teams have utilized the base 4-3 defense more than the Eagles this season.

The Eagles have gone with five-plus defensive backs on 51 percent of their snaps, which ranks as the 12th-lowest mark in the league. They've gone with six or more backs on just four percent of snaps, which is 15th-lowest in the league.

Of course, the true base defensive package across the NFL has quickly become the nickel. We see that with the Eagles, as just over 60 percent of their defensive packages have included a third defensive back and one fewer linebacker. This will generally involve slot corner Brandon Boykin replacing weakside linebacker Akeem Jordan.

Against the nickel, opposing quarterbacks are averaging 7.6 yards-per-aimed-throw and completing 63 percent of aimed passes. Those aren't bad marks (right around league average, actually), but they're significantly worse than where the team was after Week 4.

The Achilles heel has really been the team's ability to slow the pass when the 4-3 is on the field. Compared to the nickel, the Eagles are allowing 2.3 more yards per throw and a catch rate 10 percentage points higher when the 4-3 is out there.

The Eagles have utilized the dime package only 29 times this season, allowing 7.7 YPA and a 61 percent completion rate.

Defense – Rushing

Defensive Rushing Formations
Package Rushes Yards YPC
4 DL, 3 LB, 4 DB 208 767 3.7
4 DL, 2 LB, 5 DB 106 560 5.3
5 DL, 2 LB, 4 DB 10 31 3.1
6 DL, 4 LB, 1 DB 8 16 2.0
4 DL, 4 LB, 3 DB 7 10 1.4
4 DL, 1 LB, 6 DB 2 15 7.5
Total 341 1,399 4.1

Finally, we have the breakdown of Eagles' defensive packages when the opponent runs the ball.

After reading about the pass defense, you may wonder why the Eagles don't use the Nickel even more than they already do. Taking a look at the defensive production vs. the run, we see why they can't.

The 4-3 has been on the field 61 percent of the time when the opponent has called a run this season. That's compared to 31 percent when the nickel is on the field. The difference in allowed yards per carry (1.6 yards) is noticeable. Of course, it's not overly shocking either. If the nickel is on the field, you're expecting a pass and have one less "big" body inside the box.

The Eagles have allowed only 26 yards on 15 carries (1.7 yards per carry) when fewer than four defensive backs are on the field.

Turning The Table

We just looked at the packages used by the Eagles, but which ones are opponents using most often against them? To answer that question, we'll wrap up this week's column with a few bullet points.

• Opponents have gone with two or more tight ends against the Eagles' defense 28 percent of the time this season, which is the league's 11th-lowest mark.
• Opponents have gone with three-plus wide receivers against the Eagles' defense 53 percent of the time this season, which is the league's 13th-highest mark.
• Opponents have used the base 4-3 defense against the Eagles' offense 17 percent of the time this season, which is the league's fifth-lowest mark.
• Opponents have gone with five-plus defensive backs against the Eagles' offense 66 percent of the time this season, which is the league's sixth-highest mark.

That's a wrap for this week. Check out InFocus throughout the season for the most comprehensive Eagles analysis on the web.

Mike Clay, @MikeClayNFL on Twitter, is the Director and Managing Editor at Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He also works as an NFL Writer for NBC's

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