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Rams-Eagles: Key Stats Analysis - Week 5

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Throughout the 2014 season, I'll be keeping track of four key team statistical measures, and how they affect the outcome of every Rams game: Turnover Differential, Big Play Differential, Points Per Drive Differential, and Team Penalty Yards Differential. In addition, I'll keep track of the score at half-time. Is there a correlation between these statistics and the Rams' win/loss record?

Rich Schultz

In the Week 3 game before the bye, the Rams came out hot in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys, opening up a 21-0 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the half. Against Philadelphia this past weekend, the Rams did an abrupt about-face. The Rams fell behind in the first minute of the game, and never quite recovered, falling behind 20-7 at half-time. This game was eminently winnable, with mistakes, penalties, and turnovers ultimately deciding the outcome.

Throughout the 2014 season, I'll be tracking five key team statistical measures, and their affect on the outcome of every Rams game: Turnover Differential, Big Play Differential, Points Per Drive Differential, Team Penalty Yards Differential, and the score of the game at half-time. When combined, Turnover Differential and Big Play Differential creates a statistic commonly referred to as "Toxic Differential".

Why were these 5 particular metrics selected for tracking throughout the 2014 season? Turnovers and Big Plays have proven to be influential in determining the outcome of a game. There's a historically strong correlation between Points Per Drive Differential and a teams regular season record. The score at half-time and Team Penalty Yards Differential were selected specifically with the Rams in mind. There appears to be a strong correlation between the score at half-time and the Rams' win/loss record. The Rams - under Jeff Fisher - have been among the league leaders in penalties, to their detriment.

NFL Stats

Turnover Differential

It's a widely held belief that winning the turnover battle is important to a teams success on the field. The Rams finished with 7 wins in 2013. The team had a positive turnover differential in 6 of those wins, and a zero differential in the other victory. Overall, the Rams finished 9'th in Turnover Differential (plus +8) last season. In 2013, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks led the NFL in this key statistic.

In the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Rams had three takeaways. A Nick Foles interception led to the Rams' only points in the first half, and a Foles fumble in the fourth quarter resulted in another touchdown for the Rams.

The Rams' three giveaways were critical to the outcome of the game. In the 2'nd quarter, an Austin Davis fumble (the result of a Vinny Curry sack) on the Eagles' 5-yard line prevented the Rams from scoring. In the third quarter (deep in their own territory) the Rams' offensive line allowed Trent Cole to sack Davis, causing a fumble which the Eagles returned for a touchdown. RB Zac Stacy fumbled at the Eagles' 36-yard line late in the third quarter. The fumble was returned for 40 yards, and the Eagles scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

Although blocked punts don't show up on the stat line as a turnover, John Hekker's blocked punt (recovered and returned for a touchdown) in the first two minutes of the game put the Rams in a hole they never recovered from.

The Rams are currently tied for 25'th in the league in Turnover Differential (minus -3).

Team Turnover Differential Statistics
Team Takeaways Giveaways Turnover Differential
1 Green Bay Packers 10 4 6
2 New England Patriots 11 5 6
3 Buffalo Bills 10 4 6
4 San Diego Chargers 8 2 6
5 San Francisco 49ers 10 5 5
6 Houston Texans 12 8 4
7 Carolina Panthers 10 6 4
8 Arizona Cardinals 7 3 4
9 Cleveland Browns 4 1 3
10 Cincinnati Bengals 7 4 3
11 Baltimore Ravens 8 6 2
12 Chicago Bears 11 10 1
13 Indianapolis Colts 10 9 1
14 New York Giants 10 10 0
15 Miami Dolphins 8 8 0
16 Seattle Seahawks 3 3 0
17 Tennessee Titans 7 7 0
18 Denver Broncos 3 4 -1
19 Pittsburgh Steelers 5 6 -1
20 Dallas Cowboys 9 10 -1
21 Atlanta Falcons 9 11 -2
22 Minnesota Vikings 5 7 -2
23 Detroit Lions 6 8 -2
24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 11 -2
25 St. Louis Rams 6 9 -3
26 Kansas City Chiefs 3 6 -3
27 Philadelphia Eagles 8 12 -4
28 Oakland Raiders 5 9 -4
29 Washington Redskins 4 9 -5
30 Jacksonville Jaguars 4 10 -6
31 New York Jets 3 10 -7
32 New Orleans Saints 2 10 -8

Team Penalty Yards Differential

In 2013, the Rams were the 2'nd most penalized team in the NFL, averaging 7.7 Team Penalties Per Game. An excessive number of penalties can stall drives, and can keep opponents' drives alive. In an average NFL game, the officials will call between 12-14 penalties per game (both teams combined). The Rams' goals should be to have no more than 6 penalties per game, plus a positive Team Penalty Yards Differential.

The Rams were flagged for 10 penalties in the game against Philadelphia. Particularly telling is the difference in penalty yards between Philadelphia and St. Louis. Philadelphia committed 4 penalties for 39 yards. The Rams totalled 82 penalty yards on their 10 infractions, resulting in a negative Team Penalty Yards Differential of 43 yards.

After 4 games, the Rams are the 4'th most-penalized team in the NFL, averaging 9.0 penalties per game. The Rams are 6'th in the league in most penalty yards (387), and are 2'nd worst in the league in Team Penalty Yards Differential (-243). In an interesting twist, the Rams rank 1'st in the NFL in fewest Opponent Penalty Yards (144). Apparently the officials aren't too keen on penalizing the Rams' opponents.

Team Penalty Yards Differential
Rank Team GP Pen Yds Opp. Pen Yds Pen Yds Diff Pen Yds Diff/Game
1 Baltimore Ravens 5 172 356 184 11.50
2 New Orleans Saints 5 166 333 167 10.44
3 New York Giants 5 207 365 158 9.88
4 Arizona Cardinals 4 145 291 146 9.13
5 Jacksonville Jaguars 5 180 301 121 7.56
6 Kansas City Chiefs 5 174 286 112 7.00
7 Cincinnati Bengals 4 187 298 111 6.94
8 Oakland Raiders 4 173 284 111 6.94
9 Minnesota Vikings 5 293 394 101 6.31
10 Philadelphia Eagles 5 319 418 99 6.19
11 Green Bay Packers 5 229 328 99 6.19
12 Miami Dolphins 4 146 243 97 6.06
13 Chicago Bears 5 322 404 82 5.13
14 Dallas Cowboys 5 218 282 64 4.00
15 San Diego Chargers 5 277 312 35 2.19
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5 318 345 27 1.69
17 Cleveland Browns 4 253 235 -18 -1.13
18 Carolina Panthers 5 294 259 -35 -2.19
19 Detroit Lions 5 253 206 -47 -2.94
20 Indianapolis Colts 5 332 279 -53 -3.31
21 Seattle Seahawks 4 246 175 -71 -4.44
22 Houston Texans 5 295 222 -73 -4.56
23 Denver Broncos 4 235 156 -79 -4.94
24 Atlanta Falcons 5 333 247 -86 -5.38
25 Washington Redskins 5 418 315 -103 -6.44
26 Buffalo Bills 5 372 259 -113 -7.06
27 Tennessee Titans 5 375 262 -113 -7.06
28 San Francisco 49ers 5 393 265 -128 -8.00
29 New York Jets 5 391 258 -133 -8.31
30 Pittsburgh Steelers 5 437 279 -158 -9.88
31 St. Louis Rams 4 387 144 -243 -15.19
32 New England Patriots 5 466 205 -261 -16.31

Big Play Differential

Big Play Differential is the difference between the number of big plays - running plays of 10+ yards plus passing plays of 25+ yards - an offense creates, and the number of big plays a defense allows. How important are big plays to a teams offense/defense? Last season, NFL teams averaged 0.8 points per drive without a big play, and 3.9 points per drive with at least one of them.

In the game against Philadelphia, the Rams' offense produced 6 rushing big plays, and 4 passing big plays. The Rams' defense gave up 6 big plays in total. The Rams' Big Play Differential for Week 5 was plus +4, their best result of the season. The Rams moved the ball quite well in this game, and accumulated 466 yards in total offense, again their best result of the season.

The Rams are currently tied for 15'th in the league in Big Play Differential (minus -1).

Team Big Plays Statistics
Rank Team Plays Big Plays Rush Pass Big Play % BPA +/-
10 San Francisco 49ers 326 28 20 8 8.59% 11 17
8 Denver Broncos 261 23 11 12 8.81% 10 13
2 Washington Redskins 272 26 15 11 9.56% 14 12
4 Seattle Seahawks 181 17 12 5 9.39% 8 9
1 Pittsburgh Steelers 330 33 18 15 10% 26 7
5 Dallas Cowboys 331 31 25 6 9.37% 25 6
6 Baltimore Ravens 332 31 21 10 9.34% 25 6
24 Buffalo Bills 316 21 10 11 6.65% 15 6
14 Minnesota Vikings 321 26 17 9 8.1% 21 5
15 Chicago Bears 323 25 16 9 7.74% 20 5
30 Detroit Lions 329 19 8 11 5.78% 14 5
20 New York Jets 324 23 17 6 7.1% 20 3
9 Tennessee Titans 300 26 20 6 8.67% 24 2
19 Miami Dolphins 278 20 17 3 7.19% 18 2
3 Cleveland Browns 265 25 17 8 9.43% 26 -1
12 Atlanta Falcons 330 27 17 10 8.18% 28 -1
13 St. Louis Rams 271 22 12 10 8.12% 23 -1
16 Arizona Cardinals 243 18 10 8 7.41% 19 -1
17 New Orleans Saints 352 26 19 7 7.39% 27 -1
7 Cincinnati Bengals 238 21 11 10 8.82% 23 -2
26 San Diego Chargers 330 21 10 11 6.36% 23 -2
11 Philadelphia Eagles 339 28 17 11 8.26% 31 -3
28 New England Patriots 341 21 13 8 6.16% 24 -3
22 Houston Texans 302 21 14 7 6.95% 27 -6
27 New York Giants 339 21 13 8 6.19% 27 -6
18 Jacksonville Jaguars 291 21 12 9 7.22% 29 -8
25 Kansas City Chiefs 318 21 15 6 6.6% 29 -8
23 Green Bay Packers 275 19 14 5 6.91% 28 -9
21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 282 20 12 8 7.09% 31 -11
32 Oakland Raiders 228 11 6 5 4.82% 22 -11
29 Indianapolis Colts 378 22 14 8 5.82% 34 -12
31 Carolina Panthers 310 15 8 7 4.84% 27 -12

Points Per Drive Differential

Points Per Drive Differential is a derivative of Points Scored/Allowed. It measures the number of points generated/allowed on an average drive. 13 teams reached the playoffs/won 10 games in 2013. 12 of them finished in the top dozen in Points Per Drive Differential. Successful teams with winning records are normally the most efficient - both offensively and defensively - and consistently generate positive PPD Differentials.

In Sunday's game, the Rams had 14 drives in total, and scored 28 points on those drives (2.0 points per drive). The Eagles had 11 drives in total, and scored 20 points on those drives (1.82 points per drive). The Rams' Points Per Drive Differential versus the Eagles: Plus + .18.

After 4 games, the Rams rank 30'th in the league in Points Per Drive Differential (minus -0.92).

Team Points Per Drive Statistics
Team Points Per Drive Points Per Drive Against Point Differential
1 San Diego Chargers 2.51 1.15 1.36
2 Indianapolis Colts 2.56 1.8 0.76
3 Baltimore Ravens 2.23 1.57 0.66
4 Philadelphia Eagles 2.52 1.89 0.63
5 Green Bay Packers 2.63 2 0.63
6 Dallas Cowboys 2.55 1.94 0.6
7 Seattle Seahawks 2.39 1.8 0.59
8 Denver Broncos 2.32 1.74 0.58
9 New York Giants 2.38 1.85 0.53
10 Kansas City Chiefs 2.25 1.84 0.41
11 Cincinnati Bengals 2.02 1.62 0.4
12 Detroit Lions 1.74 1.36 0.37
13 New England Patriots 2.16 1.81 0.34
14 Houston Texans 1.76 1.45 0.31
15 Cleveland Browns 2.45 2.33 0.12
16 Atlanta Falcons 2.6 2.51 0.09
17 Buffalo Bills 1.5 1.44 0.06
18 Pittsburgh Steelers 2.15 2.12 0.03
19 Arizona Cardinals 1.87 1.91 -0.04
20 San Francisco 49ers 2.12 2.16 -0.05
21 Miami Dolphins 1.85 1.9 -0.06
22 New Orleans Saints 2.54 2.82 -0.28
23 Carolina Panthers 1.93 2.22 -0.3
24 Chicago Bears 2.04 2.43 -0.39
25 Washington Redskins 1.81 2.31 -0.5
26 Minnesota Vikings 1.77 2.29 -0.52
27 New York Jets 1.34 2.12 -0.78
28 Tennessee Titans 1.47 2.32 -0.85
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.87 2.79 -0.91
30 St. Louis Rams 1.91 2.83 -0.92
31 Oakland Raiders 1.16 2.34 -1.18
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 1.1 2.86 -1.77

Score At Half-Time

In 2013, the Rams finished with a 7-9 record. In all 7 victories, the Rams were either tied or leading at half-time.

In the game versus Philadelphia, the Rams were losing 20-7 at the half, and went on to lose the game 34-28, despite scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Weekly Summary

Week Turnover Diff. Big Play Diff. PPD Diff. PY Diff. Half-Time Game Score
1 Negative Negative Negative Negative 0  13 Lost 34-6
2 Even Negative Positive Negative 10  7 Won 19-17
3 Negative Negative Negative Negative 21  10 Lost 34-31
4 - - - - - Bye Week
5 Even Positive Positive Negative 7  20 Lost 34-28

Despite better performances in three of the statistical categories, the Rams still came out on the losing end of the game. Giveaways - and the blocked punt - cost the Rams a minimum of 24 points, ultimately too much to overcome.

Pro Football Focus Grades

As an added feature, OakCityRam is contributing his weekly compilation of Pro Football Focus grades for each Rams player. Although PFF grades have their shortcomings and are quite subjective, they do offer a unique perspective, and are a valuable tool for analyzing individual player performance.

Rank OFFENSE PLAY COUNTS RATINGS
vs. NFL Run Pass Ratings Pass Screen Run
Pos. # Name Total Run Pass Block Block Overall Pass Rush Block Block Block Penalty
19/108 LWR 83 Brian Quick * 66 1 46 19 0 2.1 1.7 -0.2 0 0 0.5 0.1
1/68 RT 72 Joe Barksdale * 82 0 0 25 57 2.1 2.5 0 0.3 -0.7
13/61 TE-R 89 Jared Cook * 67 0 48 17 2 1.7 0.5 0 0.1 0 0.9 0.2
29/53 HB 36 Benny Cunningham 45 7 27 2 9 1.7 0.5 0.6 0.6 0 0 0
17/53 HB 30 Zac Stacy * 33 11 17 3 2 0.7 1.2 -0.6 0.1 0 0 0
23/61 TE-L 88 Lance Kendricks * 39 0 15 21 3 0.3 0 0 0.2 0.5 1.5 -1.9
14/74 LG 76 Rodger Saffold * 82 0 0 25 57 0.3 -0.2 0 0.3 0.2
Not Rated RWR 11 Tavon Austin 25 0 19 6 0 0.2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
12/35 QB 9 Austin Davis * 82 0 57 25 0 0.1 0.3 -0.4 0 0 0 0.2
Not Rated HB 42 Trey Watts 4 2 2 0 0 0.1 0.5 -0.4 0 0 0 0
Not Rated LWR 12 Stedman Bailey 17 0 13 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
27/68 LT 77 Jake Long * 82 0 0 25 57 -0.9 -0.5 -0.5 -0.2 0.3
20/22 FB 46 Cory Harkey * 28 0 8 17 3 -1.5 -0.1 0 -0.3 0 -1.1 0
86/108 RWR 81 Kenny Britt 49 0 38 11 0 -1.9 -2 0 0 0.5 -0.5 0.1
66/74 RG 69 Davin Joseph * 82 0 0 25 57 -2.7 -0.2 0 -2.7 0.2
67/108 SLWR 18 Austin Pettis 37 0 33 4 0 -2.7 -2.8 0 0 0 0 0.1
35/38 C 63 Scott Wells * 82 0 0 25 57 -3.3 -1.1 0 -2.3 0.1


Rank DEFENSE PLAY COUNTS RATINGS
vs. NFL Ratings Run Pass Pass
Pos. # Name Total Run Rush Cov. Overall Defense Rush Cov. Penalty
5/73 DLT 99 Aaron Donald 26 9 17 0 3.9 1.2 2.6 0 0.1
13/102 LCB 33 E.J. Gaines * 76 35 0 41 3.8 0.2 0 3.5 0.1
16/32 SLB 58 JoLonn Dunbar * 38 26 2 10 2 2.5 -0.2 -0.3 0
31/73 DLE 95 William Hayes * 49 26 23 0 1.8 2.5 -0.9 0 0.2
55/78 SS 23 Rodney McLeod * 76 35 0 41 1.1 0.4 0 0.6 0.1
Not Rated DLE 93 Ethan Westbrooks 27 9 18 0 0.9 0.8 0 0 0.1
30/102 RCB 21 Janoris Jenkins * 76 35 0 41 0.8 0.2 0 0.5 0.1
49/61 MLB 55 James Laurinaitis * 76 35 7 34 0.4 0.2 0.4 -0.3 0.1
31/32 WLB 52 Alec Ogletree * 76 35 7 34 -0.1 0.7 -0.6 -0.3 0.1
40/73 DRE 97 Eugene Sims 22 7 15 0 -0.2 -0.1 -0.2 0 0.1
26/52 DRE 94 Robert Quinn * 54 28 26 0 -0.5 -0.5 0.8 0 -0.8
66/78 FS 25 T.J. McDonald * 76 35 2 39 -0.6 1.9 -0.2 -2.4 0.1
Not Rated SCB 20 Lamarcus Joyner 38 9 3 26 -1.1 0.6 -0.3 -0.4 -1
Not Rated DRT 92 Alex Carrington 23 8 15 0 -1.5 -0.8 -0.8 0 0.1
47/52 DLT 98 Kendall Langford * 53 27 26 0 -2.1 -1.4 -0.9 0 0.2
57/73 DRT 90 Michael Brockers * 50 26 24 0 -2.4 -1.3 -1.3 0 0.2

Rank SPECIAL TEAMS RATINGS # of
vs. NFL Pos. # Name Overall Kick Punt FG/EP Penalty Pen Tks Ass MT
9/33 P 6 Johnny Hekker 3.3 0 3.3 0 0 0 0 0
77/786 ST 46 Cory Harkey 1 0.5 0.5 0 0 2 0 0
18/44 K 4 Greg Zuerlein 0.4 0.4 0 0 0 0 0 0
145/786 ST 36 Benny Cunningham -0.1 -0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0
270/786 ST 11 Tavon Austin -0.2 0 -0.2 0 0 0 0 0
145/786 ST 50 Ray-Ray Armstrong -1 0 0 0 -1 1 0 0 0
458/786 ST 34 Chase Reynolds -1 0 0 0 -1 1 0 0 0

  • Aaron Donald, Joe Barksdale, E.J. Gaines and Brian Quick continue to impress, earning the teams highest grades against the Eagles.
  • Interior offensive linemen Scott Wells and Davin Joseph continued their below-average play in the game versus Philadelphia. Is it time for Greg Robinson to finally start a game?
  • Football games are won and lost in the trenches. In the game against Philadelphia, many of the offensive and defensive linemen generated below-average grades, and the Rams clearly lost the battle in the trenches. The linemen generally were the Rams' lowest graded players on Sunday.