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Grading the Eagles' 27-24 win over the Giants

Grading the Eagles' 27-24 win over the Giants

Grading the Eagles' 27-24 win Sunday afternoon over the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field (see breakdown):

Quarterbacks
Carson Wentz: 21/31, 176 YDS, 1 TD

This was a less than phenomenal outing for the Eagles' franchise quarterback. Wentz did avoid turnovers against a tough defense, which was a positive, maybe the only positive. The second-year passer only averaged 5.7 yards per attempt, and really struggled with his accuracy downfield again. Certainly not Wentz's best, but he didn't make a crippling mistake, while also doing just enough to move the offense on two fourth-quarter scoring drives.

Grade: C+

Running backs
Wendell Smallwood: 12 ATT, 71 YDS, 0 TD
LeGarrette Blount: 12 ATT, 67 YDS, 1 TD
Corey Clement: 6 ATT, 22 YDS, 1 TD

See what happens when the Eagles commit to the run? Blount, Clement and Smallwood were all effective, even sensational in spurts. Darren Sproles added three carries for 11 yards before exiting with a wrist injury. All told, the running backs combined to rush 39 times for 193 yards — a 4.9 average per carry. Long overdue (see Roob's observations).

Grade: A-

Wide receivers
Alshon Jeffery: 8 TGT, 4 REC, 56 YDS

Credit a very good New York secondary for keeping the ball out of the Eagles' receivers hands. Wentz missed some opportunities to get the ball to his weapons, but the coverage was also excellent for much of the game. Regardless, given the amount of money the club spent here in the offseason, the leading receiver should probably wind up with more than 56 yards.

Grade: C-

Tight ends
Zach Ertz: 10 TGT, 8 REC, 55 YDS, 1 TD, 1 FUM

Ertz was doing another steady job as Wentz's safety blanket, right up until the moment he fumbled in the fourth quarter. The Giants started in Eagles territory and quickly scored, knotting the score at 14 and swinging the momentum in their direction. Simply put, that can't happen.

Grade: D

Offensive line
Chance Warmack, Stefen Wisniewski: Alternated at LG

Much better job this week. For the first time in 2017, the running game was firing on all cylinders, while the quarterback was provided with clean pockets most of the afternoon. The Giants had three sacks, but Wentz was guilty of holding the ball too long on most, if not all of those. Considering the reputation of the Giants' front four, this was about as strong of a performance as one could hope.

Grade: A-

Defensive line
Eagles: 0 SK

Eli Manning was getting rid of the ball quickly, negating the typically fierce Eagles pass rush. Not only was the defensive line unable to get Manning to the ground, they only logged three hits on the quarterback all day. The unit was strong at the point of attack in the running game, doing their part to limit the Giants to 49 yards rushing on 2.9 yards per carry.

Grade: B

Linebackers
Mychal Kendricks: 5 TKL, 2 PD

Jordan Hicks exited with an ankle injury in the second quarter, giving Kendricks a long-awaited opportunity to play some serious snaps. The sixth-year veteran did not disappoint, deflecting a pass into the air for an interception. Nigel Bradham made eight tackles as well.

Grade: A-

Defensive backs
Patrick Robinson: 4 TKL, 1 TFL, 3 PD, 1 INT
Rasul Douglas: 4 TKL, 1 INT

As you can see, Robinson had a strong game in the box score. What the numbers won't show is Robinson being torched by Sterling Shepherd for a 73-yard catch-and-run. Of course, Chris Maragos didn't do his cornerback any favors. Filling in at free safety for an injured Rodney McLeod, Maragos took a bad angle to the receiver, turning a gain of 15 yards or so into a long touchdown. Playing off-coverage most of the afternoon, Jalen Mills finished with all of the tackles (12), but he was bested in the end zone twice by Odell Beckham Jr.

Grade: C

Special teams
Jake Elliott: 1/2 FG, 2/2 XP

Elliott missed a 52-yard field goal earlier, and there were a bunch of bonehead plays by special teams throughout the contest. However, when a rookie kicker nails a 61-yard field goal as time expires to win the game, you tend to forget about that other stuff.

Grade: A-

Coaching
Eagles record: 2-1

Doug Pederson made some questionable decisions, like going for it on 4th-and-8 at roughly midfield. And Jim Schwartz's decision to play his cornerbacks off the Giants' receivers all day was beginning to look questionable as well. But Pederson stuck with the run for a change, which ultimately paved the way to victory, and Schwartz's unit did just enough to hold the Giants to 24 points. A win's a win, so can't complain much.

Grade: B+

Grading the Eagles' 34-29 win over the Giants in Week 15

Grading the Eagles' 34-29 win over the Giants in Week 15

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Grading the Eagles' 34-29 win Sunday afternoon over the New York Giants at the MetLife Stadium (see breakdown):

QUARTERBACK
Nick Foles: 24/38, 237 YDS, 4 TD

Foles was far from perfect, missing his share of open receivers. He also wasn't afraid to stand in the pocket and take a hit or push the ball downfield. Foles threw a touchdown pass on four of the Eagles' six trips inside the red zone. Perhaps most importantly, he avoided the negative plays, taking only one sack and finishing the game without a turnover. You can't ask for much more from a backup.

Grade: A

RUNNING BACKS
Jay Ajayi: 12 ATT, 49 YDS, 2 REC, 40 YDS

The Eagles went with a running back by committee approach in the first half to only middling results. In the second half, they turned the reins over to Ajayi, who quickly racked up the offense's long gains of the day — a 22-yard rush and a 32-yard reception. Not sensational production by any means, but at least there weren't any fumbles.

Grade: C+

WIDE RECEIVERS
Nelson Agholor: 9 TAR, 7 REC, 59 YDS, 1 TD

The performance of these receivers with the backup quarterback at the helm is deserving of some respect. Agholor led the team in receptions and receiving yards, and Alshon Jeffery added four receptions for 49 and a score. Torrey Smith drew a pass interference penalty to set up six for the Eagles as well. With or without Carson Wentz under center, this is still a dangerous bunch (see Roob's observations).

Grade: A-

TIGHT ENDS
Zach Ertz: 9 TAR, 6 REC, 56 YDS, 1 TD

Another week, another stellar game for Eagles tight ends. Ertz picked up right where he left off with a big day after missing the previous week, while Trey Burton tacked on two receptions for 15 yards and a score as well.

Grade: A

OFFENSIVE LINE
Chance Warmack: Started at left guard

Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled with the speed of All-Pro defensive end Olivier Vernon off the edge, allowing four quarterback hits and a sack. Warmack had trouble keeping his feet and reaching his landmarks is the running game. Of course, you can only expect so much when the left side of the O-line consists of backups. Vaitai and Warmack were adequate, even very good at times, and settled in as the game went along to the point where protection was actually solid in the second half.

Grade: B+

DEFENSIVE LINE
Brandon Graham: 4 TKL, 2 TFL, 1.0 SK

The Giants rely on quick passes, negating the Eagles' pass rush to some extent, but the defense was able to generate some mild pressure. Vinny Curry had a sack erased by a penalty in the secondary, and Fletcher Cox got to the quarterback on a two-point conversion attempt. Otherwise, it was a quiet day up front, though the Giants were limited to 75 yards rushing on 3.3 yards per carry.

Grade: B

LINEBACKERS
Nigel Bradham: 11 TKL, 1 TFL, 2 PD

Both Bradham and Mychal Kendricks with nine tackles were extremely active, as the Giants worked the middle of the field hard with their power running game and short slants. Bradham had a chance to put the game on ice late in the fourth quarter but dropped what could've been an easy interception.

Grade: B

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Ronald Darby: 5 TKL, 3 PD, 1 INT

The secondary got off to a horrendous start, allowing 14th-year veteran Eli Manning to set a career high with 252 yards passing in the first half of a game. Darby's interception and 37-yard return while trailing 20-7 in the second quarter flipped the momentum a bit. The coverage was perfect, and Darby's run to the Giants' 20-yard line was even better. Manning went back to work in the second half, racking up 427 yards and three touchdowns. This was supposed to be the 31st-ranked passing offense in the NFL. Not good.

Grade: C-

SPECIAL TEAMS
Eagles: 3 blocked kicks

Derek Barnett blocked an extra point attempt in the first quarter, which turned out to be a huge play. Kamu Grugier-Hill followed up Darby's pick with a blocked punt on the following possession. Malcolm Jenkins blocked a field goal, too. And Jake Elliott was perfect on field goals and extra points. Yet, Najee Goode nearly undid all of it. Goode's totally unnecessary neutral zone infraction on a Giants punt in the third quarter extended a failed drive, eventually resulting in a touchdown. The rest of the unit bailed him out.

Grade: A-

COACHING
Eagles' record: 12-2

This was not Jim Schwartz's best work. The Eagles' defense seemed wholly unprepared for the exact same offense the Giants ran against them in Week 3 — the same offense they run every week. There's no reason for Manning to go over 400 yards. None. Some of the issues were the poor play on the part of the defensive backs, but the game plan was questionable as well.

Otherwise, great job by Doug Pederson to rally the troops after falling behind by 13 in the first half. It didn't look like the offense dialed anything back at all with Foles under center, which was the right call, too. When the team scores 34 with the backup quarterback, the coach is doing something right.

Grade: B-

Eagles still better off at QB than Giants

Eagles still better off at QB than Giants

The Eagles may have lost Carson Wentz for the season, but it could be worse. A lot worse. The Eagles could be in the New York Giants’ shoes.

How much better are the Eagles than their loathsome NFC East rival to the north this season? Even with a season-ending injury to an MVP-caliber player under center, the Eagles still look vastly superior to their Week 15 opponent Sunday. In fact, would you even trade their quarterback situation with the Giants?

We try to answer that question and more while we examine whether the Giants do anything better than the Eagles in 2017. Anything at all!

Probably not though.

QUARTERBACKS
Eli Manning may have a couple of Super Bowl rings, and his supporting cast with the Giants is awful, but I can’t understand why there was such a clamoring to have him remain the team’s starter. Their record is 2-11. He’s averaging 6.0 yards per pass attempt this season — only Joe Flacco has been worse. And Manning turns 37 in less than three weeks, so what’s the upside? He looks shot. At least Nick Foles gives the Eagles some hope heading into his 29th birthday. At this stage of their respective careers, you would take Foles, and it’s a no-brainer. Heck, plenty of people would take Davis Webb over Manning.

Advantage: Eagles

RUNNING BACKS
The Giants’ backfield is better than many suspected at the beginning of the season. Of course, turning out marginally better than the worst backfield in the NFL isn’t a huge accomplishment. Orleans Darkwa runs with power, and Wayne Gallman is a nice change of pace when he’s not fumbling the football. Both average better than 4.0 yards per carry. Shane Vereen looks cooked in the third-down role. Of course, the team doesn’t run the ball much, and none of the trio is a home-run hitter of the caliber of Jay Ajayi for the Eagles. Neither Darkwa nor Gallman looks like a better prospect than Corey Clement, either.

Advantage: Eagles

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS
The Eagles have three players with more yards and touchdowns than the Giants’ leading receiver. Alshon Jeffery has 732 yards and eight touchdowns, while Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor both have 663 yards and seven scores. New York’s receiving corps was also decimated by injuries to Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall. Despite the losses, speedy Evan Engram is having an incredible rookie season for a tight end, becoming the primary weapon in the passing attack with 55 catches, 623 yards and six touchdowns. Clearly, Engram’s stellar play hasn’t been enough to compensate. Now wideouts Sterling Shepherd and Roger Lewis are questionable to play Sunday, too.

Distinct advantage: Eagles

OFFENSIVE LINES
The Giants’ best O-lineman, right tackle Justin Pugh, is questionable as well with a back injury and hasn’t suited up in weeks. That’s a problem because their line wasn’t very good to begin with. Left tackle Ereck Flowers has improved as the season has progressed, and isn’t nearly as bad his reputation might suggest. Otherwise, there aren’t many bright spots up front. The Eagles have had their issues. The hope is Stefen Wisniewski can go with an ankle injury, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai has looked beatable in recent weeks. At least their issues are confined to the left side. From center to right tackle, the unit is great.

Advantage: Eagles

DEFENSIVE LINES AND LINEBACKERS
If games were won and lost on reputation, the Giants’ D-line would be among the scariest units in the league. Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are all All-Pro/Pro Bowl players, yet New York ranks 31st against the run and is tied for 30th in sacks. The stars are not living up to the hype. Surely, it hasn’t helped that roughly all of their linebackers are on injured reserve. The Eagles still rank No. 1 against the run, though they’ve looked a little shaky of late, and are tied for ninth in sacks. Their defensive end rotation with Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long and Derek Bennett is becoming quite dangerous, with 20.5 sacks between them.

Slight advantage: Eagles

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Don’t worry, the Giants’ issues on defense aren’t limited to the front seven. The club also ranks 31st against the pass, and unlike so many other areas of the roster, injuries aren’t solely to blame. Janoris Jenkins was hurt all year and eventually landed on IR. For Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple, it’s been a question of effort and will they or won’t they quit on their teammates. Apple has since been benched and left on the inactives list. The Eagles’ secondary has its flaws, but attitude isn’t one of them. They’re also an opportunistic bunch, with three players — Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod and Patrick Robinson — with three interceptions, and three more with two.

Advantage: Eagles

SPECIAL TEAMS
As bad as the Eagles’ special teams have been for at times this season, the Giants have been worse. Their kicking game stinks — Aldrick Rosas has made only 75.0 percent of field-goal tries. Their coverage units stink, with a blocked punt and a punt return for a touchdown. And their return game stinks, with a 19.4 average on kickoffs and a 5.1 average on punts. We’re going to assume the re-signing of Bryan Braman this week (see story) fixes some of the issues the Eagles have experienced, and they’re back to being one of the top all-around units in the league.

Advantage: Eagles

COACHING
Ben McAdoo had one of the most meteoric rises and falls you will ever see. In a matter of three years, McAdoo was hailed as a genius for reinventing Manning, usurped the head coaching job from Tom Coughlin, and guided the Giants to the playoffs. Eleven months later, he was out of a job. Perennially overrated defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over in the interim, so no groundbreaking changes on the sideline for the time being. McAdoo’s timeline might be a cautionary tale for Doug Pederson and the Eagles. As far as this game is concerned, the staff that’s not in the midst of upheaval has the edge.

Distinct advantage: Eagles

OVERALL
There was no shortage of warning signs for New York heading into 2017. Sure, they managed to go 11-5 and make the playoffs a year ago but had not won more than seven games in any of the previous three seasons. I’m not sure anybody saw 2-11 coming, although, with an aging quarterback, shaky offensive line, and no running game, the Giants needed their defense to shoulder the load. Obviously, that didn’t happen. The Eagles have the injury under center, but I’ll take Foles with his roster over the current version of Manning and his crew of flunkies. And I wouldn’t think twice.

Distinct advantage: Eagles