Deep Passing

 Touchdown to interception ratio on pass attempts greater than 20 yards:
2011: 1:4
2010: 1:1

Drops on attempts greater than 20 yards:
2011: 8
2010: 5

Percentage of pass attempts greater than 20 yards:
2011: 14%
2010: 15%

Completion percentage on attempts greater than 20 yards:
2011: 37%
2010: 38%

What to take away from these stats? There was a 6 touchdown drop from 2010 to 2011, a 36 point difference. In addition to hitting on fewer deep passes the Eagles turned the ball over 3 more times on 20+ yard attempts in 2011 than they did in 2010.  Other than that, there wasn’t a huge discrepancy between 2011 and 2010. What do you blame? Bad luck? The QBs? The receivers?

Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are the primary deep threats on the Eagles and both receivers were less effective in 2011. In 2011, DeSean Jackson caught 34% of his deep targets in 2010 he caught 54%. DeSean had fewer yards and fewer touchdowns along with more drops while also having more of his deep targets intercepted. Jeremy Maclin caught 42% of his deep targets this past season, an improvement on his 33% catch rate in 2010 but he had fewer targets, catches and touchdowns off of deep passes. To be exact, Jeremy Maclin had 5 touchdowns on targets of 20 yards or more in 2010 but he had 0 in 2010.

Michael Vick didn’t actually suffer too much of a set-back in 2011 in terms of deep passing (statistically speaking), he did regress but it might not be as bad as you think. This past season Vick had a 41% completion percentage on deep passes, a 1:1 TD:INT ratio and 13.2 yards per attempt. Compare that to 2010 Michael Vick where he had a 41% completion percentage on deep passes, an 8:5 TD:INT ratio and 15 yards per attempt. He was worse but nobody could’ve expected to keep up the super-human pace.

You know who the real problem was? Vince Young. He had a 26% completion rate on pass attempts over 20 yards, 6 interceptions and 0 touchdowns along with a yards per attempt mark of 10.6. He was horrid.

So, was it bad luck or was it bad play? Depends. Do you excuse Maclin because he was hurt and recovering from a cancer scare or do you hold him accountable for a down year? When DeSean Jackson has the ball hit him in the hands and he drops it, is that bad luck or is it a bad play? When DeSean Jackson has the ball hit him in the hands and he tips it up only to have it intercepted, is that bad luck or bad play? When Andy Reid decides to have Kafka let it fly, is that bad coaching or bad luck? When Vince Young can’t read a defense, is that bad luck or bad play? When DeSean Jackson absolutely roasts Prince Amukamara only to have VY under-throw the ball, is that bad luck or bad play?

Either way, it has to be fixed. This entire team is built around the big play (which might not be ideal). The team is best suited to strike quickly and jump out to an early lead and then ride it out with LeSean McCoy on offense while having the defense attack the passer with Babin, Cole & Jenkins with pro-bowl corners on the back-end. You fix the big play problem and the Eagles might end up winning a couple more games.

So, how do you solve it? Obviously you let Vince Young walk. But then you have to make a decision regarding DeSean Jackson, was 2011 an anomaly or was it a sign of things to come. Was 2010 just an anomaly for Jeremy Maclin or was his 2011 season just riddled with injuries all while trying to recover from his cancer scare that kept him out of commission for nearly the entire off-season and training camp. I don’t know the answers but you have to hope the Eagles make the right decision.

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