Any Given Sunday
The weekend's biggest upset goes under the Football Outsiders lens.

Any Given Sunday: Bucs Over Eagles

Any Given Sunday: Bucs Over Eagles
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Andrew Healy

When the No. 3 defense goes up against the No. 25 offense, you can usually feel pretty good if you bet on that offense scoring under 37.5 points. But even before Sunday, the Buccaneers presented more danger to the highly ranked Eagles defense than a bottom-dweller offense usually would. The Buccaneers' No. 25 offense rolled up 38 points (Tampa Bay's final seven points in the 45-17 rout of the Eagles came by way of a Lavonte David interception return) in large part because they run with the kryptonite for the 2015 Eagles defense: the power back.

The Eagles entered Sunday with identical defensive DVOA of -17.3% against the pass and the run. Since runs are usually less efficient than passes, that split is unusual. The Broncos and Panthers were the only other defenses whose DVOA against the pass was lower (which is better for defenses) than their DVOA against the run. While the Eagles were one of only four defenses under -10.0% in pass DVOA, 18 defenses had broken that mark in run defense. So what had set the Eagles' defense apart was primarily their success against the pass rather than the run. Moreover, their run defense had one clear weakness: runs up the middle. Coming into Sunday, the Eagles had mostly stopped outside runs but ranked near the bottom against inside runs.

Eagles' Rushing Defense By Direction Before Sunday
Direction Rushes DVOA Rank
Left end/Left tackle 79 -19.1% 11th
Left guard/Middle/Right guard 85 -1.5% 29th
Right end/Right tackle 74 -26.3% 5th


2 comments, Last at 24 Nov 2015, 4:00pm

1 Re: Any Given Sunday: Bucs Over Eagles

The turnaround in the Bucs offensive line has to be one of the most surprising things this year, right? Starting two second-round rookies, their best lineman (RT Demar Dotson) goes out in the preseason and gets replaced with career underwhelming journeyman Gosder Cherilus, Logan Mankins is about 90 years old, and the center got dumped from Atlanta's terrible line. I thought this line was going to get Winston killed, but they've been just shockingly competent so far.

2 Re: Any Given Sunday: Bucs Over Eagles

No notice that the Eagles have another glaring weakness, by DVOA? They're 31st in the league vs. #1 receivers. #2 receivers, lesser-used WRs, tight ends, RBs, they're fine on. But the top passing threat of the other team, they're flat out awful. In other words, their secondary sucks.

You didn't exactly see anyone explode versus the Bucs, but there were a bunch of times they held an extra guy back to help block, and then the receivers quickly found open spots in the Eagles defense - even though they might be surrounded by a bunch of defensive backs.

The secondary was also responsible for those 2 long Martin runs, if memory serves (definitely the 84-yard one was).