Some say it's play-calling. Some say it's lack of coaching. Some say it's the offensive line. Some say it's a lack of heart (although I believe after the Eagles were eeking out all those close games at the beginning of the year people were praising their heart but it's all irrelevant here so whatever). Some say it's because Andy Reid sucks now and is accepting his future dismissal at the end of the year. Some say the Eagles quit.
And while perhaps it might be a tad silly to dismiss these notions entirely as we do not know what is really going on behind the locker room, it is worth pointing out a few numbers than when you break it all down, is the core reason why the Eagles are struggling.
Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) tells the story all too clearly. And painfully. Listed below are DYARs of select Eagles from 2010-2012. Listed next to the player's name is total DYAR, in parentheses next to that number is DYAR/game, because not all players played sixteen games each season and DYAR is in essence a counting statistic of how many yards above replacement level a certain player is.
2010: 663 (55.25)
2011: 652 (50.15)
2012: -189 (-23.63)
2010: 227 (15.13)
2011: 304 (20.27)
2012: -25 (-3.13)
2010: 107 (7.64)
2011: 129 (8.6)
2012: 38 (4.75)
2010: 249 (15.56)
2011: 186 (14.31)
2012: 60 (7.5)
2010: 114 (7.13)
2011: 92 (5.75)
2012: 52 (6.5)
In addition to DYAR for QBs, RBs, and WRs, Football Outsiders has a system for rating offensive lines and defensive lines against the rush, known as Adjusted Line Yards (ALY). FO also assigns metrics for pass protection, known as Adjusted Sack Rate (ASR).
Offensive line ALY (the higher the better)
Offensive line ASR (the lower the better)
Defensive line ALY (the lower the better)
Defensive line ASR (the higher the better)
If you want perspective to how this fits in with the rest of the league, simply look at the charts on Football Outsiders. I only thought about this after I finished the rankings and I have to go to bed early. I might update this tomorrow afternoon, but for now, navigate your way through FO to see the rankings.. I guarantee you won't be surprised by where they rank among other teams.*
*Except for maybe the 2011 stats and the 2011 Eagles, whom I will continue to defend in spite of the embarrassing suckitude of the 2012 squad, especially as the narrative will be to blend the 2011 Eagles and 2012 Eagles together like frick and frack when really they could not be any more different. People's false perceptions of 2011 have become the reality in 2012.
Looking at overall defense, the Eagles defense as a unit was among the top 10 in DVOA at the time Juan Castillo was fired and were just outside the top 5 before the Detroit Lions went HAM on them. Under Todd Bowles, they have fallen to right around league average, and that is an aggregate statistic that includes the solid performance in the first few games under Castillo. Perhaps getting adjusted to a new defensive coordinator takes time and we should not be so quick to rush to judgment on Todd Bowles. It's only been two games under him and for all we know, he may share none of the responsibility. Perhaps the change of coaching and decline of defense is simple coincidental correlation that is not exactly causation.
Only one thing is for sure. Run defense aside, the collective suckitude has infected everyone on the 2012 Eagles and there is not one single person to blame and no one is blameless.