By Chip Keagy, AATSN Co-Host
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The first winnable game that Eagles have played in weeks. Philly had a tremendous showing from their defense and had glimpses of excellence by the special teams and a HINT of success from the offense. As Coach Sirianni said, it was a total team win. The grades are in for a 21-18 victory that brings the Eagles to 2-3 on the season on a short week before a matchup with the champs.
Coaching Staff: C
Some of the things that have been plaguing the Eagles for weeks showed up again today. Run to pass ratio (which was inflated due to having the lead in the 4th quarter) was absurdly unbalanced. Penalties that were game changing penalties (pass interference that pulls points off the board). Refusing to adapt when things aren't working. These are things that are repetitive problems that are fixable. The longer that Sirianni and Co. don't fix it, the longer it will take for the Eagles to beat a good football team.
But the Eagles won today. Sirianni may not have been the reason but huge credit can go to Jonathan Gannon's defense who held the Carolina Panthers to 18 points and had 3 takeaways. This improvement allowed the Eagles to stay in the game long enough to strike. After 2 terrible weeks, the defense stepped up when it mattered the most.
Jalen Hurts is a leader. That is impossible to question. He is also a work in progress as a quarterback. Hurts struggled all day to complete accurate passes on time. He both overthrew and under threw receivers throughout the entire game. Even the deep throw to Quez Watkins forced #16 to slow down to make the catch which allowed him to be tackled. Had Hurts hit him in stride, Watkins walks in untouched. Eventually, when the Eagles switched to the zone read offense, Hurts was able to use his legs to help carry the team to victory with his 2 touchdown runs. So while Jalen struggled with quarterback play, his leadership and athleticism is unquestioned.
Running Backs: C
I suppose I need to give them a grade this week after two weeks of not. The running back group got used (even if most of it was in garbage time). Miles Sanders carried the ball 11 times for 45 yards. Most of those runs were full speed directly into the line. When he was allowed to run off tackle, he ran out of bounds when he was supposed to keep the clock moving. Kenny Gainwell had 2 carries for 16 yards. Boston Scott was a non factor.
In the passing game, Miles Sanders had an additional 5 catches but none of them allowed him to get out in space and make things happen. This position group has to be utilized more in order to help all the other aspects of the offense. They didn't do anything to change the outcome of the game though. They were just average.
Wide Receivers: C-
Total of 13 catches for the Wide Receivers. This stat alone is such a drastic improvement from last season. However, each impactful play the receivers had was a negative for this team. Touchdowns coming off the board though due to the pass interference pick play changed this game early. Moving forward, this group has to learn how to get seperation (from both the defense and the sidelines) and HOLD ONTO THE BALL. My biggest concern with Devonta Smith continues to be his size in the NFL game and his ability to take a hit and hold onto the ball. His fumble was a big point of the game as well.
Tight Ends: D
3 catches. Not a lot of opportunities but also not seizing the chances when they came. Zach Ertz had a really bad drop on a big 4th down. Tight ends are an integral part of the NFL. We have 2 good ones. Lets actually use them.
Offensive Line: C-
The offensive line was not good today. Mailata struggles at RT and has historically. On consecutive plays, he got beat by Hasson Reddick and it was UGLY. Jason Kelce, the model of consistency, had two terrible snaps. One resulted in a safety and the other had Jalen Hurts barely reach out and get it. Some of it is the issue of injuries and shuffling around of lineups. Dickerson had a decent game as did Driscoll. Something happened where Dillard was pulled for Mailata to go back to LT. This group gets fixed by consistency. It is also the least likely to happen.
Defensive Line: B
It continues to impress me how very good Javon Hargrave is. Another week with great defensive line play. What was different this week was the fact that Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan and even Derek Barnett played well too. They weren't dominant and they allowed the run game to get going but this group had multiple sacks and was fighting the entire game.
On the touchdown toss to Tommy Tremble, the linebacking corp got completely crossed up and left him wide open. Chubba Hubbard had over 100 yards rushing. Alex Singleton was all over the field. Eric Wilson was nowhere to be found on it. Linebackers continue to be the weakest part of the defense.
3 interceptions! Darius Slay took a tough week in the press and proved a point. Steven Nelson showed why the Eagles went out and got him. The secondary held Robbie Anderson (a really impressive WR) to just 2 catches. If the secondary plays like this consistently, it will make this defense very difficult to score on through the air.
Special Teams: B+
This SHOULD be an A because of good returns from Jalen Reagor and the first blocked punt for the Eagles in 4 years. Sippos shanked a punt pretty badly though so the grade comes down. The blocked punt (if the Eagles go on a run) could be the turning point of the year.
OVERALL GRADE: B-
The defense played outstanding. Special teams pretty good. Offense played 54 minutes of terrible football before turning it on for the last 6. The Eagles went against a team that was beatable...and beat them. It was a must win game. They won it. It wasn't pretty but a win is a win.