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Grading the Eagles' 26-24 win over the Chargers in Week 4

Grading the Eagles' 26-24 win over the Chargers in Week 4

Grading the Eagles' 26-24 win Sunday afternoon over the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center (see breakdown):

QUARTERBACK
Carson Wentz: 17/31, 242 YDS, 1 TD

Wentz's completion percentage (54.8) doesn't tell the full story here (see Roob's observations). The 24-year-old signal caller was much more accurate down the field this week, averaging 7.8 yards per reception — and was not exactly aided by stellar outings from his receivers, either. He also avoided sacks and was throwing the ball away on occasion when nobody was open. Most of all, Wentz did his part to keep the chains moving for the Eagles and did not commit a turnover. Impressive road win for the young QB, even if the numbers weren't stellar.

Grade: B+

RUNNING BACKS
LeGarrette Blount: 16 ATT, 136 YDS
Wendell Smallwood: 79 TOTAL YDS, 1 TD

Have the Eagles discovered a new thunder and lightning? Blount is running with a purpose — especially on his career-long gain of 68 yards — while Smallwood did a nice job replicating Darren Sproles as a receiver out of the backfield and change of pace. Corey Clement's numbers weren't as strong (10 ATT, 30 YDS), but the rookie ran hard and saw a lot of action in the fourth quarter to help ice the game, too (see rookie report). What a turnaround.

Grade: A+

WIDE RECEIVERS
Nelson Agholor: 3 REC, 58 YDS

Alshon Jeffery simply could not get open against the Chargers' secondary. The Eagles' prized free-agent acquisition was targeted six times, finishing with three receptions for 29 yards. Sure, he scored a touchdown in there, but Jeffery's day overall did not rise to expectations — lofty though they might be. Torrey Smith was much worse, with two of his three targets going for drops. Simply put, the Eagles are not getting what they're paying for, which was a couple of playmakers on the outside.

Grade: C-

TIGHT ENDS
Zach Ertz: 5 REC, 81 YDS

Ertz's big year continues. He has clearly become the quarterback's go-to receiver, especially on third down. The fifth-year player also threw a key block to help spring a 68-yard run, so an all-around quality outing for one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

Grade: A-

OFFENSIVE LINE
Stefen Wisniewski, Chance Warmack: Rotated at LG

The Eagles' O-line is officially back. This looked like a different offense the past two weeks in terms of the ability to run the football. On Sunday, the big uglies cleared the way for 214 total yards on the ground with a 5.1 average. The protection is improved as well, with Wentz taking a lone sack. Against a Chargers front featuring Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, that's impressive. This is exactly the kind of dominant performance in the trenches everybody was expecting, and Jason Peters and Co. are finally delivering.

Grade: A

DEFENSIVE LINE
Chris Long: 1.0 SK, 1 FF
Beau Allen: 1.0 SK, 2 TFL

You think the Eagles missed Fletcher Cox? The front four was able to generate a reasonable amount of pressure without its most dangerous pass rusher, managing two sacks. That being said, the pressure didn't consistently get home, allowing Philip Rivers of all people to break the pocket on numerous occasions. Rivers was forced to throw quite a few away, and L.A. only gained 58 yards on the ground, so it was a nice effort overall. But clearly, Cox is a huge part of what goes into making this D-line great.

Grade: B

LINEBACKERS
Jordan Hicks: 9 TKL

Typically thought of as one of the Eagles' strengths, the performance from the linebacker position has been sporadic so far this season. Nigel Bradham has missed some tackles, perhaps none bigger than his whiff on a 3rd-and-15 conversion. And for the second time in three weeks, Hicks lost gap responsibility and was at least partially responsible for a long touchdown run, this time a 35-yarder.

Grade: C

DEFENSIVE BACKS
The secondary surrendered some massive gains through the air. It's unclear who was responsible for a 75-yard touchdown to Tyrell Williams — cornerbacks Rasul Douglas and Jalen Mills were trailing, but free safety Rodney McLeod may have been at fault. There is no question Douglas was at fault for a 49-yard catch-and-run by Keenan Allen to set up L.A. for a field goal to close out the first half. McLeod was also the last line of defense on a 35-yard touchdown run, so not the happiest return after missing last week with a hamstring.

Grade: C-

SPECIAL TEAMS
Jake Elliott: 4/4 FG, 2/2 XP

No surprise, a 61-yard game-winning field goal can do a lot for a kicker's confidence. Elliott was perfect for the first time since joining the Eagles, knocking down three-point tries from 45, 40, 53 and 47 yards. Donnie Jones had both of his punts downed inside the Chargers' 20-yard line.

Grade: A

COACHING
Eagles record: 3-1

To his credit, Doug Pederson has flipped the script on his play-calling, specifically as it relates to run-pass ratio. Pederson went to the running game early, and he went to the running game often, and it was successful. The offense is a vastly more efficient unit when not entirely reliant on Wentz. They are in more manageable down and distances, even breaking long runs, while avoiding the occasional fluky turnover that happens when the ball is always in the quarterback's hands.

Much more difficult to evaluate Jim Schwartz's job with the defense. The unit simply isn't the same without Cox and is still without its most talented cornerback in Ronald Darby as well. There may have been some questionable calls, but Schwartz's crew did just enough here to beat a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback.

What more can you really ask for?

Grade: A

Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

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Leather Eagles Super Bowl jacket is amazing, crazy expensive

Philadelphia fans aren't the only ones who can't get their fill of Super Bowl championship memorabilia. The Eagles' players want in on the surfeit of champs gear as well.

Take Beau Allen for example. A true man of the people, Allen tweeted his desire for this absolutely beautiful leather jacket commemorating the Eagles victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Allen tweeted aloud, wondering why the Birds' players hadn't been issued one of these leather jackets yet?

One guess? They retail for a cool $3,000. Totally worth it. 

You can pick one up right here for a low $2,999.99. It's listed as a "Men's NFL Pro Line by Fanatics Branded Black/Green Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Champions Full-Button Leather Jacket."

You'll be happy to know it's an officially licensed NFL product and is made in the USA. Just like Beau.

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

Joel Embiid belongs among the very best

You can't really fake it at an All-Star Game, especially one where people are actually trying. There's no lucking your way into a couple open shots and a couple generous foul calls and all of a sudden rolling your way to a 30-plus-point game; there's no isolating one defensive mismatch and exploiting it to make yourself look like '01 Shaq. Generally speaking, an All-Star Game shakes out as it should: The best shine the brightest, and those who aren't ready yet fade into the periphery with extra motivation to step things up for next year. 

And that's why it's so awesome that Joel Embiid, a mere 75 games into his NBA career, unquestionably belonged on the biggest stage with the biggest names last night. Playing for Stephen Curry's squad, JoJo posted 19 points on 8-13 shooting, with eight rebounds and two blocks, and a +5 rating for the night — the only positive plus/minus for the Steph starters. 

Out of context, those numbers may not sound particularly impressive for an All-Star outing, considering the final score of 2017's game was 192-182. But thanks to increased financial and personal motivation in this year's game, the competition was ratcheted up, and though the final score was still a robust 148-145 — Team LeBron emerging victorious — no one player really went off in this one, with Team Stephen being led in scoring by DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard (21 each). Consider that JoJo's 19 outpaced both teammates James Harden (12 points on 5-19 FG) and Curry himself (13 on 4-14 FG) — only two of the greatest scorers in NBA history. 

And what's more, down the stretch it was Embiid who seemed most ready to rise to the moment. With minutes remaining and his team up one, Embiid posted up LeBron James — LeBron James!! — for an easy bucket, and with the score tied and under a minute left, he got stuck isolated on the perimeter against Paul George, and still ended up blocking George's shot to win the possession back for his team. Had his squad been able to hang on in this one, he would've been able to mount a fairly compelling case for MVP, which would've made him the first player since at least the 20th century to win top honors in his first All-Star appearance. 

Of course, it didn't happen that way, and Team Stephen coach Mike D'Antoni might get most of the blame as to why. With his squad up one and Team LeBron inbounding out of a timeout, D'Antoni opted for some incomprehensible reason to bench Embiid, his best defensive player — which, somewhat unsurprisingly, resulted in LeBron scoring quickly and easily at the basket to go up one, and then DeMar DeRozan throwing the ball away at the other end. Embiid entered for the final possession, with his team needing a three to tie, and he had a chance to hoist one, but understandably passed to Curry, who drove his way into traffic and ended up not even getting a shot off. Team LeBron won, and James took home his third MVP. 

Frustrating finish, but it can't ruin what came before: Joel Embiid squaring off against the best the NBA has to offer, and proving himself a factor. (Also nailed a three and then blocked a Russell Westbrook drive at the other end, btw, so that beautiful random feud lives on.) He got as good as he gave — LeBron drilled a triple in his face immediately after JoJo took him down low — but he was in the mix, and a crucial part of his team's successes and failures. It should be the first of many such All-Star starring roles for Embiid, and hopefully the last for some time that doesn't also include him being flanked by Process Truster in Arms Ben Simmons. 

But even if it isn't — even if nothing good ever happens again with Joel, and we look back at this All-Star Game 25 years from now as the high point of this career — it still would have all been worth it. It was worth it when the team went 10-5 two Januarys ago. It was maybe worth it when Embiid gave his first-ever post-game interview following a Sixers win. 

That's what people will never understand about The Process, and that's what makes nights like this so gratifying. Franchises go decades, entire generations, without getting a moment to feel this way about one of their players, and even getting the chance to feel it about one of ours is worth seasons of sacrifice. JoJo lives, and somewhere in the bowels of the Staples Center last night, Our Once and Always Dark Lord Sam Hinkie had to be there and be smiling. Hope he enjoyed the Fergie national anthem as much as I did, as well.