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Grading the Eagles' 33-10 win over the 49ers in Week 8

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Grading the Eagles' 33-10 win over the 49ers in Week 8

Grading the Eagles' 33-10 win Sunday after over the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field (see breakdown):

QUARTERBACKS
Carson Wentz: 18/32, 211 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Not Wentz's best game by any means, but the second-year passer continues to get the job done for the Eagles. In his defense, the protection was shaky early, and the offense kept getting pinned in its own end. Wentz also held the ball too long on occasion when the protection was solid and missed some throws that would've extended drives or gone for a touchdown. Regardless, he kept mistakes to a minimum and made enough plays to win. Nick Foles even got into the game at the end.

Grade: B-

RUNNING BACKS
LeGarrette Blount: 16 ATT, 48 YDS, 1 TD

It's not how you start, it's how you finish, and Blount finished strong. The final numbers don't look spectacular — that's 3.0 yards per carry, for those keeping track at home — but Blount put the game ice with four carries for 26 yards and a touchdown on the Eagles' last scoring drive. Corey Clement had the longest run of the game for either team, ripping off a 22-yarder, while Wendell Smallwood managed just two touches total and was curiously absent from the game plan.

Grade: B-

WIDE RECEIVERS
Alshon Jeffery: 2 REC, 62 YDS, 1 TD

For the first time all season, we saw vintage Jeffery on a 50/50 ball. Jeffery hit the brakes and went up for the underthrown pass from Wentz, then outraced multiple 49ers defenders to the end zone to finish a 53-yard catch-and-run. Only 2 of 8 targets to Jeffery were complete, but the big play helped put the game away in the second half (see Roob's observations). Mack Hollins came up with three receptions for 30 yards, but also appeared to run the wrong route on Wentz's interception. The group is still very much a work in progress.

Grade: B-

TIGHT ENDS
Zach Ertz: 4 REC, 34 YDS, 1 TD

Another week, another productive game for Ertz. The 26-year-old didn't necessarily blow up the box score, but he did pick up his sixth touchdown of the season. The other tight ends were involved in the passing attack this week as well. Trey Burton caught two passes for 21 yards, while Brent Celek had one 14-yard grab.

Grade: A-

OFFENSIVE LINE
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: Started at LT

The offensive line did not look good, but don't blame Vaitai. The second-year player isn't going to make anybody forget about Jason Peters, but he largely played fine in his first NFL start at left tackle. Most of the pressure on Wentz was coming from the right side of the line. It was not Lane Johnson's best day, though the unit as a whole struggled, particularly in the first half.

Grade: B-

DEFENSIVE LINE
Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry: 1.0 SK each

The NFL's No. 1 run defense was at it again, limiting 49ers running backs to 54 yards on 18 carries — a meager 3.0 average. The Eagles' front four got two tackles for loss from Vinny Curry and one each from Cox, Graham, Tim Jernigan and Derek Barnett. San Francisco's patchwork line was clearly overmatched, so the Eagles dominated up front, as they should. It wasn't overly impressive given the circumstances but was exactly what it needed to be.

Grade: A+

LINEBACKERS
Mychal Kendricks: 7 TKL, 1.0 SK, 2 QBH, 1 PD

Getting the start for Jordan Hicks at middle linebacker, Joe Walker got off to a shaky start. Walker was beaten for a 24-yard completion to tight end Garrett Celek on the second play from scrimmage. It would go down as the 49ers' longest play of the game. The linebackers were stellar after, especially Kendricks, who was all over the place. Nigel Bradham had five tackles and a pass breakup as well and would've had an interception had Rodney McLeod not got there first.

Grade: A

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Jalen Mills: 1 TFL, 1 INT, TD

49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard was in way over his head. That much was evident on a woeful pass outside the numbers that was easily picked by Mills and returned 37 yards to paydirt. McLeod had a pick as well when Patrick Robinson came crashing into a receiver as the ball arrived, deflecting the pass into the air. Beathard completed 47.2 percent of his passes for 4.6 yards per attempt against an Eagles secondary that had nothing to fear.

Grade: A+

SPECIAL TEAMS
Donnie Jones: 45.8 AVG, 2 IN20

Early on, this was a field-position battle, one that Jones' left leg helped the Eagles win. Jones tied his season-high of six punts, doing his part to keep a bad 49ers offense pinned on its own half of the field on a rainy day. Barnett's blocked field goal ultimately wasn't a factor in the outcome, though it was a big play nonetheless. However, Jake Elliott actually brought the special teams mark down this week, connecting on field goals of 40 and 51 yards, but missing two extra points (see Rookie Report).

Grade: A-

COACHING
Eagles' record: 7-1

Another slow, ugly start, but the Eagles never stop battling. This was a game they should win, and they did, so no bonus points or anything for Doug Pederson for keeping his team focused. Still, it was closer than many would have preferred for a long time, but they toughed it out and slowly overtook an inferior opponent.

Grade: B+

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. 

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

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JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

Updated at 12:50 a.m.

Early Sunday, a video surfaced on social media that appeared to put Sixers’ guard JJ Redick in an extremely poor light. Redick has since responded to clear up the situation.

Here’s what happened:

At about 8 a.m., a post appeared on Reddit showing a screenshot and caption alleging that Redick said a racial slur during a video from NBA players wishing Chinese fans a Happy New Year. The video caused a huge uproar on social media. If you wish to see the video, it is located here, at the top.

On the surface, without a response, it looked odd from the start. Redick, who we have come to know as a well-spoken individual who is typically very appreciative of basketball fans, isn’t someone you’d expect this from, let alone with a camera pointing directly at his face with an NBA microphone in front of his lips.

He offered this response on his official Twitter account, saying he was tongue-tied and had no intentions of saying what he did on the video.

Fans reacted on both sides of the issue, some still asking for an apology and others taking Redick for his word. 

On Sunday night, Redick followed up with a longer statement on his Twitter and Instagram, where he further explained himself and indeed issued an apology.

Please read. Thank you.

A post shared by JJ Redick (@jjredick) on

Early Monday, Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin tweeted a statement saying that he spoke with Redick and believes the Sixers' guard didn't say a racial slur.

With the All-Star Break going on, Redick won’t be available for a few more days for the media to ask him about this. There’s a chance this story will continue into next week.