Annual Column: Is there Value in Eagles Training Camp Statistics?

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Spike blocked me at some point, but I saw this on the CB feed and thought it was post worthy:

I think I’ve written a version of this column every preseason now, but it’s a good topic.

First things first, Eliot Shorr-Parks isn’t the only person who does training camp stats. You see other people in other markets charting passes and whatnot, so I do think it’s more of a blanket gripe in general. I don’t think people are sub-tweeting ESP or going after him specifically, but those “Philadelphia media people” would have to speak for themselves.

In regard to logging Jalen Hurts’ passing numbers or any other Eagles stat during the first week of camp, I would say this:

  1. There is 24/7 demand for Eagles information.
  2. We don’t always have supply to meet that demand.
  3. As a result, media/fans sometimes elevate things that probably aren’t important.

Make sense? To me, it’s just supply and demand. The Birds are a monstrosity and people will talk about this team 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. That’s largely what 94 WIP does. They are the official Eagles radio partner and you’d probably say more than 80% of their content is related to the local football team.

When Spike says that hater media are linking to their own observations, I think you get more generic, blanket type of thoughts there. Jeff McLane, for instance, did a Saturday writeup that is mostly in notebook-style, with some quotes and descriptions of what he saw. He did log all six of Jake Elliott’s kicks, but there’s nothing in there talking about how many completions and incompletions Jalen Hurts had. There’s nothing like this:

You see 615 likes on that tweet. Eliot is a tweeting machine during camp, and then will go on WIP to share what he saw. That formula seems to work well for them, and if it ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it.

But you can ask if there’s true value in that information, like does it really matter how many passes Hurts completed on day three? Probably not, and so it brings us to another layer, asking whether or not the Eagles void always needs to be filled. The answer is no, but there are enough fans out there who will consume whatever fills said void, and if the customer is always right, then it’s hard to argue with the approach.

From a more crass perspective, Eagles fans are so insatiable for information that you could shovel shit onto a plate and they’d gobble it up. Shit isn’t healthy for you, but it was the only thing available, so it was served up anyway. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes how it works in the sports media.

When you take this process and apply it to other teams, it does feel a little silly. We only get to watch 15 minutes of Sixers camp each day, but would Sixers fans want to know that Embiid shot 5-12 during those 15 minutes? I think we’d be criticized for writing that. If fans got a cool video clip of new guy Danuel House knocking down a three, then there’s something to chew on, but even in the past players have become annoyed when tidbits of context-less video go public during camp. We’re five days in and Miles Sanders and Jalen Reagor are already bothered by perceived slights. Maybe their perceptions are wrong, and they’re being soft, but this is the player/media/fan ecosystem we’re living in, whether we like it or not.

As another example, would Charlie O’Connor log every single save that Carter Hart made on day two in Voorhees? I can’t imagine because there’s not a lot of value in that. Nobody should overreact to somebody saying, for instance, that Hart only saved 18 of 23 shots he faced in a practice session. Hopefully we’d have more important things to discuss, but again, the Flyers aren’t the Eagles and don’t carry the same type of voracious demand.

One other thought is this –

If camp was open to fans like it used to be, then there might not be an onus on reporters to tweet stats to their followers. Right now, their readers are on the outside looking in, and can’t see the team practice, so we’ve got a content vacuum that exists in late July and early August. You take that vacuum and fill it with stats, observations, press conferences, team-produced media, etc, and you find that there are plenty of people looking to consume that, especially on a platform like WIP that produces hours and hours of radio every single day. Do we then blame the media for sharing useless information or the insatiable fan for consuming that useless information? Is there a better way to fill the void? These are all valid questions.

You’re supposed to hate the game and not the players, which I think is what’s going on here. It’s less about what content individuals are sharing, and more about how we got to the point where we’d consider that content worthwhile.