The700Level

Instant Analysis: Grading the Eagles' preseason finale

With the Eagles' 16-10 loss to the Jets on Thursday (see breakdown), the preseason has mercifully come to an end (see 10 observations).
 
No starters and few key players appeared in the game for the Eagles, though there were plenty of jobs on the line. Here's a quick rundown on the youngsters and reserves who saw action, most of them for the last time before returning to the bench or hitting the wire.
 
Quarterbacks
Matt McGloin gave a very Matt McGloin-like performance. He completed a high percentage of passes (66.7 percent) for minimal gains (4.3 yards per attempt). He wasn't always on the same page with his receivers and threw off his back foot a bunch, too. Dane Evans at least tried to push the ball down the field, albeit to little success. Evans completed 10 of 22 passes for 110 yards with a horrendous interception, and even his 41-yard touchdown was the result of a broken play. Best hope Nick Foles is OK.
 
Grade: D
 
Running backs
Short night for Corey Clement, who continues to look the part, carrying four times for 16 yards and doing a solid job in pass protection. Donnel Pumphrey certainly didn't convince anybody he warrants a roster spot over Clement with six rushes for 10 yards. Pumphrey exited with a concussion, and his cause wasn't helped any by Byron Marshall, either, who had 15 attempts for 57 yards. This was fine.
 
Grade: B-
 
Wide receivers
It was difficult to evaluate the wideouts given the quarterback play, to put it politely. Mack Hollins was the Eagles' go-to receiver early on, catching three passes for 25 yards, followed by Bryce Treggs with three receptions for 22 yards. Shelton Gibson had the long gain of the first half at a whopping 14 yards, while Marcus Johnson's 41-yard catch-and-run to the end zone was the result of a broken play. Not sure how much we're really supposed to see when a pass never travels farther than 10 yards in the air.
 
Grade: C
 
Tight ends
Officially, Anthony Denham finished with one reception for 10 yards, although he should've left some of that production on the field in favor of getting out of bounds with time winding down in the first half. In all honesty, that might've been the most egregious mistake of the game. Players miss tackles and assignments and turn the ball over, but there's no excuse for not knowing the situation.
 
Grade: C
 
Offensive line
Dillon Gordon nearly got the quarterback killed. Alas, it was only a sack-fumble. Gordon was going against Jets defensive end Kony Ealy on the play, and though Ealy has bounced around the league a bit this year, he once registered three sacks in the Super Bowl. In other words, touch matchup for Gordon, but also the level of talent he would face in the regular season. He surrenderd another easy sack later, as well. The rest of the unit was serviceable.
 
Grade: C
 
Defensive line
Two bubble players made strong pushes for the 53-man roster in Alex McCalister and Elijah Qualls. McCalister's sack gives him 3½ for the preseason, and the speedy defensive end also made a nice run stop, though he was not credited for the tackle — interesting that he exited with a hamstring injury. Qualls totaled five tackles, shared a sack, and the interior lineman was generally just a disruptive presence in the backfield all night. Fellow defensive tackle Gabe Wright also acquitted himself well, registering 1½ sacks.
 
Grade: B+
 
Linebackers
It seemed like Kamu Grugier-Hill was everywhere, racking up five tackles. Grugier-Hill's athleticism is typically on display on special teams, but this was probably his best defensive performance. Joe Walker finished with four tackles and a couple of hits on the quarterback. Don Cherry lost a jump ball to Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the back of the end zone for six. It was a mismatch, but an example of Cherry's limitations. Overall, a sound night for the trio, even with the touchdown.
 
Grade: B
 
Defensive backs
Jaylen Watkins began the game like he had something to prove. Watkins wasn't perfect in coverage and dropped a sure interception, but showed a willingness to hit with five tackles, which was once his biggest issue. Fellow cornerbacks Aaron Grymes and Dexter McDougle were not so effective at getting ball carriers to the ground. C.J. Smith joined Watkins and Grymes with a pass breakup each, while Smith provided generally sound coverage along with three tackles. Up against a sad Jets passing attack, there wasn't a ton to evaluate here.
 
Grade: C+
 
Special teams
At least Pumphrey showed some signs of life in the return game, taking three kickoffs 80 yards with a long gain of 34, and five punts 48 yards with a long gain of 14. Conversely, Jets returners were held in check by Eagles coverage units, which also ensured three punts were down inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Caleb Sturgis came up short on a 58-yard field goal try, showing the limits to his range, and there is absolutely nothing to report on newly-anointed long snapper Rick Lovato, which is a positive.
 
Grade: B
 
Coaching
Nobody of consequence played, which is the only coaching decision that matters in the fourth preseason game. The Eagles make it out of the summer without key injuries, thanks in part to Doug Pederson's management of the roster in exhibition games.
 
Grade: NA