Eagles' offense only scores poor grades

Eagles' offense only scores poor grades

Grading the Eagles' 6-0 loss Sunday afternoon over the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field (see breakdown):

Nick Foles: 4/11, 39 YDS, 1 INT

Foles wasn't quite as bad as the numbers suggest. His incompletions include a drop, being hit as he threw, a throwaway and a receiver falling down, none of which were the quarterback's fault. That being said, Foles fled a clean pocket then woefully underthrew his target on the pick and even fundamental actions like catching a shotgun snap cleanly continue to give the sixth-year veteran trouble. Not the confidence-builder the Eagles had hoped for. Nate Sudfeld actually outperformed Foles — though not by much — completing 19 of 23 for 134 yards, a 22-yard scramble and three sacks. It was nothing that will warrant inevitable talk of a quarterback controversy.

Grade: C

LeGarrette Blount: 9 ATT, 37 YDS

It's true what they say about volume backs — they get better as the game wears on. Blount got off to a slow start, as he has in recent weeks. Yet as the carries piled up, so too did his effectiveness. After carrying five times for 11 yards in the first quarter, he finished with 26 yards on his next four carries, plus an 11-yard reception. Wendell Smallwood carried four times for six yards and had three receptions for 24 yards in his first action since November.

Grade: B

Nelson Agholor: 3 TAR, 3 REC, 11 YDS

One might wonder how Foles' day might've turned out had Torrey Smith made a simple catch to convert on 3rd-and-7 on the Eagles' opening possession. Smith's drop caused a good-looking drive to stall at the Cowboys' 39-yard line, and the first-team offense never regained its rhythm. The good news is Alshon Jeffery caught a pass this week, going for eight yards. Mack Hollins and Marcus Johnson saw the bulk of the action after Jeffery and Co. exited, each catching three passes for 48 yards.

Grade: C+

Zach Ertz: 2 TAR, 2 REC, 24 YDS

At least Foles can reliably find Ertz, and the Pro Bowl tight end generally hangs on to the football. Brent Celek was targeted four times, finishing with three receptions for 13 yards.

Grade: B

Can't blame the guys up front for the offense's inability to consistently move the football (see Roob's observations). Whether it was the starters or the backups, there were running lanes, and there was protection. Eagles running backs averaged 2.7 yards per carry, though that is a bit deceiving, and at least three of the seven hits on the quarterbacks were a product of holding on to the football too long. An illegal block by Jason Kelce and a holding penalty against Halapoulivaati Vaitai were drive killers, but solid-albeit-unspectacular work otherwise from this unit.

Grade: B

Steven Means: 1 TKL, 1.0 SK, 2 QBH

Tons of credit to the defense, beginning with the guys up front. Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan and Derek Barnett were all inactive, and Fletcher Cox only played the first series. Despite being without four regulars, the Eagles limited Ezekiel Elliott to 3.8 yards per carry. That begins up front. Chris Long led the charge with six tackles, as he and Vinny Curry played pretty much the entire game along with Means. This was very impressive under the circumstances.

Grade: A-

Najee Goode: 5 TKL, 2 TFL

Nice job by the linebackers, particularly Goode, who was all over the place. Dannell Ellerbe and Kamu Grugier-Hill each had four tackles as well, and rookie Nate Gerry nearly came up with an interception. Nothing particularly impactful, but with Nigel Bradham left inactive and Mychal Kendricks playing only sparingly, the unit got the job done.

Grade: A-

Sidney Jones: 2 TKL

Rough day for Rasul Douglas. The Cowboys really went after Douglas in the second half, finally beating the rookie corner for a 20-yard touchdown pass after he let the offense go down the field. Ronald Darby and Patrick Robinson each broke up a pass, and Jaylen Watkins racked up seven tackles. As for Jones' debut, he was OK. The second-round draft pick lost contain on a first-down run by Elliott and should've been burned for a long touchdown on a double move, but was bailed out by an overthrow. Otherwise, he did not look out of place at all in his first NFL game. As a unit, the secondary limited the Cowboys to a 56.7 completion percentage and 5.5 yards per attempt.

Grade: A-

Donnie Jones: 7 PUNTS, 42.7 AVG, 3 IN20

If you like punts, this game featured plenty of them. Jones was the Eagles' most valuable player. In what could not have been easy kicking conditions, he repeatedly kept the Cowboys in modest field position. Coverage units played were strong as well, and tested often on a cold day when Jake Elliott wasn't booming touchbacks. The lone issue was a muffed punt by Kenjon Barner, which he recovered, but at his own 3-yard line.

Grade: A-

Eagles' record: 13-3

A bit curious Doug Pederson would insist on playing the first-team offense, only to pull them after one quarter of bad football. Then again, one would imagine there wasn't a whole lot of preparation for a meaningless Week 17 game, so maybe there was no point in letting Foles and Co. keep banging their heads against the wall. Anyway, since this basically amounted to a preseason game for the Eagles, there really isn't anything to grade the coaching staff on. The key players all emerged from the contest healthy, which is all that matters.

Grade: N/A

Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

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Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

We're deep into free agency, the draft is rapidly approaching and the 2017 Super Bowl champion Eagles are being reshaped into a new team.

Which means it's a perfect time for a Roob's 10 Observations.

1. As the Eagles move on from LeGarrette Blount and reshape the running back position, it’s intriguing to ponder just how good Corey Clement can be. From what I saw last year? I think the kid can be a stud. His touches were limited until late in the season, but how many rookies have had 300 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry and 13 yards per catch? Would you believe three in the last 40 years? A guy named Jesse Clark with the Packers in 1983, a guy named Adrian Peterson with the Vikings in 2007 and a guy named Corey Clement. It’s tough to project, but he can run, he can block, he can catch, he’s got a real flair for making big plays and a terrific knack in the red zone. Can’t wait to see him in an expanded role.

2. As for Blount, you can’t understate his value to the Eagles last year, both as a running back and a leader. For a guy with his resume to come into that locker room and not once complain about his workload – even when he had no carries against the Chiefs – was remarkable. His selfless attitude really resonated with the young guys in the locker room. And I know a lot of fans were upset to see him go, but as incredible as his Super Bowl performance was, you can’t forget that in the seven games leading up to the Super Bowl he averaged 2.9 yards per carry. And he’s 31 years old. If the reported numbers are correct, Blount’s $4.5 million 2018 salary makes him the 12th-highest-paid running back in the league. Good for him. I wish him well. He was a huge part of that 2017 team. But it made no sense for the Eagles to bring him back.

3. It’s amazing how much money teams keep throwing at Sam Bradford. He’s got 34 wins in eight seasons, he’s never had a winning record, he’s never made a postseason, and on the rare occasions when he’s been healthy, he’s won only 43 percent of his starts. Oh, and he’s missed 42 games since 2013. “He’s our guy!”

4. Speaks volumes that both Blount and Torrey Smith singled out Duce Staley in their tweets or Instagram posts saying goodbye to Philly after joining new teams. Staley wasn’t even Smith’s position coach, and he still singled him out. Blount wrote: “To my main man Coach Duce Staley – You have impacted my life on and off the field and pushed me to be the best version of me I can be and for that I thank you!” Staley is such a natural leader and such a big part of what the Eagles accomplished in 2017. He’s going to be a head coach one day.

5. The Eagles lost Vinny Curry, but they have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. They lost Trey Burton and Brent Celek, but they have Zach Ertz. They lost Smith, but they have Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins. They lost Blount, but they have Jay Ajayi and Clement. They lost Patrick Robinson, but they have Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley. They’ve lost a lot, but they’re still stocked at every position where they lost someone. Pretty darn good roster planning.

6. I feel like in the wake of Nick Foles’ brilliant postseason, people are forgetting exactly how good Carson Wentz was before he got hurt. So here’s a list of every quarterback in NFL history with 33 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions in a season before his 30th birthday: Carson Wentz.

7. I wonder how much Haloti Ngata has left. He’s 34, he’s coming off a torn biceps, and he’s five years removed from his last Pro Bowl. Beau Allen was quietly a solid backup defensive tackle and played a big role in that D-line rotation the second half of the season after Tim Jernigan hurt his ankle. I don’t mind the signing. Ngata comes cheap and there’s really nothing to lose. But it’s been a while since he’s been a dominant player, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in.

8. If you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio, plan your trip now. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a great place to visit any time. But the weekend of Brian Dawkins’ induction is going to be unforgettable. Dawk’s speech is going to be epic.

9. The Philly Special may be the greatest play in Eagles history, but where does the fourth-quarter fourth-down conversion rank? The Eagles trailed with 5½ minutes left and faced a 4th-and-1 inside midfield when Foles converted a short completion to Ertz. If they don’t convert, they lose. That’s gotta be a top-10 all-time play. Maybe top-five.

10. Tight ends with more catches than Ertz in their first five NFL seasons: Kellen Winslow Sr., Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.

Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

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Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

We all know just how good Carson Wentz is. Heck, the entire NFL knows just how good Wentz is after the Eagles' QB put together a remarkable season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 TD tosses … in just 13 games.

But we and the entire league also know what that means: Wentz is going to get a lot more zeros added to his paycheck soon.

Wideout Torrey Smith, recently traded by the Eagles to the Panthers, knows full well what Wentz's worth is and isn't shy to talk about it, as he did at his charity basketball event in Maryland Saturday evening.

"When Carson's time comes, they're going to need a Brinks truck the size of this arena," Smith, who caught 33 balls for 692 yards and two TDs from Wentz last season, told ESPN's Jamison Hensley while noting the Eagles are taking full advantage of Wentz's discounted rookie deal right now.

Wentz is in the middle of a four-year, $26.6 million deal signed after he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2016. The deal expires after the 2019 season, but obviously, Howie Roseman and crew know this all is looming. And they also know recent QB contract numbers have continued to skyrocket.

San Francisco recently made Jimmy Garrapollo, he of seven career starts but also of five straight wins to end last season after his trade from New England, the richest QB in league history with a five-year, $137.5 million deal. Detroit gave Matthew Stafford a five-year, $135 million deal prior to last season, a few months after Oakland gave Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million extension. Those three are the top-paid QBs in the league.

Long story short: With the way Wentz has performed with 7,049 passing yards and 49 TDs in 29 career starts, he's going to get paid.

And Roseman's acts of salary cap magic are going to have to continue because Wentz is going to get paid sooner than later, and the whole league knows it.