Foles' grade against Raiders cause for concern

Foles' grade against Raiders cause for concern

Grading the Eagles' 19-10 win Monday night over the Oakland Raiders at Lincoln Financial Field (see breakdown):

Nick Foles: 19/38, 163 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Not a performance that's going to inspire a lot of confidence in the Eagles' increasingly-long Super Bowl odds. Foles was incapable of throwing anywhere but the flats with any accuracy — and even that was dicey. He missed multiple receivers for would-be touchdowns. He tossed what should've been an easy pick-six. He threw a pass away when he could've run for a first down. He generally held on to the ball way too long. And by the end, Foles resorted to backpedaling from clean pockets, struggling to so much as complete a pass, at one point taking a ridiculous 16-yard sack. Doesn't matter if he moved the offense into field-goal position on the game-winning drive. This was abysmal (see Roob's observations).

Grade: D

Jay Ajayi: 14 CAR, 52 YDS, 1 REC TD, 1 FUM

Ajayi ran the ball well, besides a turnover. Corey Clement ran the ball well on all two of his carries. The problem is, the Eagles didn't utilize enough of either one of them. LeGarrette Blount, on the other hand, was largely ineffective, rushing four times for eight yards. To be fair, Blount's longest carry, a 22-yarder, was negated by a holding penalty, but he didn't do a whole lot with his touches otherwise.

Grade: C

Nelson Agholor: 7 TAR, 4 REC, 35 YDS

Sort of hard to evaluate the wide receivers when the quarterback is either unwilling or incapable of throwing the ball in their direction. The fact Alshon Jeffery was targeted only twice probably says more about the quarterback than it does the coverage. There were 14 total passes intended for Jeffery, Agholor and Torrey Smith. Five were complete for 40 yards. Agholor made two big catches on the game-winning march.

Grade: C+

Zach Ertz: 14 TAR, 9 REC, 81 YDS

You can't blame Ertz for this mess. Sure, Foles' interception hit the newly-minted Pro Bowler in the hands, but the pass was high. Ertz was the only vessel the quarterback seemed to be able to find and could've caught two touchdowns had the passes been reasonable, not a mile over his head. This group was more or less in the same boat as the receivers.

Grade: A

Chance Wamack: Started at LG

Lane Johnson drew three flags — a false start and a holding penalty on the same possession, and another holding penalty that negated Blount's 22-yard run and killed a drive. Otherwise, the line was fine. Most of the hits on the quarterback were a product of holding on to the ball too long, and the Eagles still managed 3.7 yards per rushing attempt despite any real threat the quarterback might complete a pass.

Grade: B+

Vinny Curry: 4 TKL, 1 QBH, 1 TFL, 1 FF

The line did a better job of rushing the passer than the five quarterback hits and 1.0 sack would indicate. David Carr was frequently under duress and flushed from the pocket. Chris Long was especially disruptive, getting to Carr three times and recording a sack, though it was Curry stripping the ball from Marshawn Lynch that allowed the Eagles to tie the game in the fourth quarter. The line stayed persistent and never despite their own offense's inability to stay on the field.

Grade: A

Nigel Bradham: 8 TKL

Jalen Richard's 34-yard run was largely the result of Dannell Ellerbe's failure to fill the hole and running over one of his own teammates in the process. This was Ellerbe's most extensive action in a long time, so we'll give him a bit of a pass. Bradham was all over the place, and it was he and Kendricks who held up Lynch and made Curry's strip possible.

Grade: B+

Ronald Darby: 6 TKL, 1 INT

The secondary may catch some heat after a few embarrassing plays early on, none worse than Jalen Mills biting on a double move to surrender a 63-yard touchdown pass. Yet the unit locked things down pretty tight after that. Patrick Robinson's second-half interception gave the Eagles some momentum, and Darby's pick late in the fourth led to the eventual game-winning field goal. In the end, that 63-yarder accounted for about 40 percent of the production through the air.

Grade: A-

Jake Elliott: 2/3 FG, 1/1 XP

Shaky start for Elliott, missing a 33-yard field goal, but he rebounded and converted when it mattered. Kicks of 35 and 48 yards knotted the score and ultimately put the Eagles ahead for good. Donnie Jones averaged 41.8 yards per punt despite some windy conditions. There were no big returns in either direction.

Grade: B+

Eagles' record: 13-2

Can't blame Doug Pederson for losing his starting quarterback to injury, and watching helplessly as his backup flailed around in the backfield. What Pederson could control was the play-calling disparity, which once again leaned heavily toward the pass, no matter how continuously awful Foles played. Give Jim Schwartz credit. His defense gave up some plays, especially early, but adjustments were made and it was really that side of the ball that delivered the victory.

Pederson needs to manage his offense, and while Foles probably won't be this bad every week, the coach needs to realize when it's time to take a different approach.

Grade: C-

Mask-wearing pioneer Rip Hamilton has advice for Joel Embiid

Mask-wearing pioneer Rip Hamilton has advice for Joel Embiid

Detroit Pistons star Richard Hamilton wasn't the first player to wear a mask in the NBA but sometimes it feels like he was.

Newsweek caught up with Rip this week to talk about his mask-wearing days and to see if he had any words of wisdom for Joel Embiid. Hamilton first wore a mask for breaking his nose, but he continued to wear it for the remainder of his career.

Embiid made his first playoff appearance of his career last night in Miami while rocking a new mask complete with a custom visor to protect his eyes. It was clearly bothering him but he didn't let it dictate his play.

“It was difficult,” Embiid said of the mask. “But to me it wasn’t really about getting used to it because at the end of the day, no matter how much it bothers me, I’ve still got to be a basketball player."

Hamilton has famously said that he embraced the mask to the point of it becoming his "Batman cape" which allowed him to be more aggresive.

"Over a period of time I started to get used to it. As basketball players, a lot of times you go to the basket and it’s a lot of elbows being thrown, guys are getting poked in the eye," he told Newsweek this week. "You tend to clench up because you don’t want to get hit in the face. Once I started wearing that mask I wasn’t clenching up no more. I was willing to take contact more. I was able to get to the free throw line more because now I’m not scared of getting hit in the face. It kind of made me into a more aggressive and better basketball player."

Hamilton's message to Embiid prior to the series?

"Embrace it. Make it cool. Make it fun. Make it like a prop. Don’t get caught up in saying like, 'I got a piece of plastic on my face. I’m worrying about how I look, I’m worrying about my perception when I shoot.' When you’re out there in, like, shooting drills, don’t be so caught up in putting the mask on and trying to worry about how you shoot with it on. Put it on in the game and just wear it because our game is a non-thinking sport. React. You gotta read and react as quick as possible. The less thinking you do, the better you’ll be."

Rip also took notice of Embiid's frustration with the mask following the game. He encouraged Jo that it only gets easier.

I’ve thrown my mask off numerous times lil bro @joelembiid ...It will get more comfortable game by game ..Trust The Process. #MaskOnMaskOff#YouGotTheJuiceNow #Holdat #Yessir#Mask #TnT #nba #nbaplayoffs #sixers#sixersvsheat #LoveThisGame

Eagles players with the most to gain at OTAs — S Tre Sullivan

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Eagles players with the most to gain at OTAs — S Tre Sullivan

The Eagles don’t hit the practice field as a team for another five weeks, yet each year coaches point to players who distinguish themselves during the months of April and May. These are the players with the most to gain in phases one and two of OTAs.

There isn’t an unheralded prospect in better position to climb the Eagles’ depth chart this spring than Tre Sullivan.

Never mind the fact that vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas just got done lauding Sullivan’s performance in a pre-draft interview on Thursday. The 24-year-old also happens to be one of only four safeties on the Eagles roster for the time being, creating a huge opportunity for an undrafted free agent from Shepherd College.

Competition will come soon enough, as safety is an obvious target for the Eagles in the upcoming draft. Even then, Sullivan could find himself in the mix for a big role with a good spring.

Last season, Corey Graham was the Eagles’ third safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Graham, a free agent departure, wound up playing nearly 40 percent of the team’s snaps.

This isn’t merely a backup job. There’s serious playing time at stake – and Sullivan can get a jump on the competition.

Sullivan made a name for himself in last year’s preseason opener against the Packers with a vicious hit on wide receiver Malachi Dupre. It was a scary moment, as Dupre was knocked out by the collision, but also a clean play and an example of the defensive back’s physicality.

Sullivan forced a fumble on the hit and finished with four tackles. He would go on to acquit himself well in three other preseason games, eventually landing on the Eagles’ practice squad.

Listed at 6-foot-0, 200 pounds, Sullivan is a relatively average size for a safety, but plays downhill and hits like a truck.

The Eagles liked the instincts and aggressiveness they saw on the field. Now, Sullivan has a chance to work out and learn from coaches in an environment where there really aren’t any other young players right now and he can be the focus of a lot of attention. Phases one and two of OTAs and the two weeks before the draft in particular could be a pivotal period.

If Sullivan impresses during these early stages, it could go a long way toward solidifying his place with the team.

Even if Sullivan is bested for the third safety spot, he could still wind up on the 53-man roster. The Eagles may opt to carry five since Chris Maragos primarily plays on special teams.

Sullivan will likely enter training camp as a player who’s considered to be on the bubble, and what he does when the pads go on will be most important. However, if he showed up and really nailed these workouts, that could go a long way toward how the team views him heading into this summer.