The Eagles and their Chip-Tempo Offense were supposed to look and move like a Maserati. But another harsh defeat Sunday left them broken down on the side of the road. It’s a team in great need of repair, and one statistic is not helping their cause. Time of possession could be one of the most significant stats, while also one of the least discussed. Next to turnovers, is there anything more important? A rested defense is a strong defense. And the most effective way to stifle an opponent’s offense is to keep them on the sideline.
Over Philadelphia’s three consecutive losses, they have averaged 22 minutes and 25 seconds of possession. For an offense that was ranked second in the NFL entering Week 4, the results are devastating. DeSean Jackson is the top target for Michael Vick, and the competition is nowhere near close.
Should the Eagles continue to struggle, Vick will be forced to throw more. And should the offense continue to surge, Jackson will be an essential piece of a well-oiled machine. He’s coming off a season-low two catches for 34 yards, for a two-week total of five receptions and 96 yards. This brings his 2013 per-game average to 5.3 catches for 98.3 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. Jackson owners are likely concerned about the Eagles’ 1-3 start, but don’t confuse fantasy with reality.
Ray Rice saw five total touches during the last two games. He missed the Week 3 stomping of Houston, when backup Bernard Pierce touched the ball 26 times for 72 yards and a touchdown. On the season, “backup” Pierce is leading Rice in touches, 55 to 36. Without the missed start by Rice, Pierce would have 29 to Rice’s 36, which would still make up 45 percent of the work between the two.
That could mean a disappointing season for Rice owners. But an aggressive owner should recognize when players’ values reach their extremes. With Rice sitting clearly at rock bottom right now for all the world to see, there would be no better time to reach out and negotiate. Baltimore has a date with Miami’s 21st-ranked defense in week five, so the window could soon close, at least slightly.
In Danny Amendola’s absence, Julian Edelman has stepped up to lead the league in receptions. As Tom Brady’s primary veteran receiver, Edelman also ranks seventh in targets entering Sunday night’s game in Atlanta. Whatever you do, I can do better. The starting slot receiver, Amendola is expected to return for Week 5’s game in Cincinnati. For Sunday’s game against Cleveland, the Bengals were missing three of their four starting defensive backs. If Cincinnati remains shorthanded against the Patriots, Brady would be presented with an incredible opportunity for his struggling 22nd-ranked offense.
Big things were expected of Amendola in the offseason. New England is hoping that excitement can continue into and throughout the season. He was signed as a replacement for Wes Welker, who caught 672 balls over six seasons as New England’s premiere slot weapon. Though Amendola has only played a full season once – in his second season – his numbers have been impressive when on the field. His sophomore campaign in St. Louis produced 85 catches on 123 targets, which are both numbers he has never matched again.
The good news about his injury history is that Amendola is generally inactive when not fully healthy. As a result, whenever he is actually active, his owners can start him with great confidence as a top-ceiling WR1-2. For teams with enough space to roster an extra receiver, there are few better options for a plug and play starter. Amendola’s value is considerably higher in leagues with any PPR value. Because he hasn’t seen the field since week 1, he’s at a great buy-low position right now. Once he’s back in a jersey, the sky’s the limit for this Patriot hopeful.
Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com.