It may not feel like it now, but what the Eagles did in New Orleans on Sunday was impressive. Only losing 20-14 to the Saints — the top seed in the conference and tied for the NFL’s best record — and having a chance to retake the lead in the fourth quarter was not a bad way for the season to end.
Regardless, this was very much a “B” performance for most of the club. Why? Because they had opportunities to build a commanding lead, to hold a lead or to come back in the end and ultimately didn’t succeed. The Eagles played a good game, not a great game, and that just wasn’t enough.
Nick Foles: 18/31, 201 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT
The second pick wasn’t his fault, but Foles’ first turnover was one of many errant attempts in quarters two through four. Maybe he leads the Eagles on another game-winning drive were it not for Alshon Jeffery’s drop at the end, yet Foles’ performance was partly to blame for the Eagles’ deficit in the first place.
Wendell Smallwood: 10 ATT, 33 YDS
Smallwood and Darren Sproles combined to average less than 3.0 yards per carry against the NFL’s second-ranked run defense. Both backs were phenomenal in pass protection, though, and took care of the football.
Wide receivers and tight ends
Alshon Jeffery: 5 REC, 63 YDS
Uncharacteristic though it may have been, Jeffery’s drop in the fourth quarter led to an interception, effectively ending the Eagles’ season. Jordan Matthews hauled in a 37-yard touchdown, but Golden Tate, Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert were all pretty much invisible.
When you consider the Eagles lost Brandon Brooks in the first quarter and Peters in the fourth, the line played really well. Foles was hit only four times and sacked zero on 31 dropbacks. Unfortunately, the running game suffered after Brooks’ exit, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt before the injury to 1.8 after.
Brandon Graham: 3 TKL, 1.0 SK, 1 FF
All the credit to Fletcher Cox, whose impact wasn’t felt on the stat sheet, but was extremely disruptive despite battling a lower-body injury. Michael Bennett registered two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss playing hurt, too. Still, the Saints averaged 4.8 yards per rush and the QB was only touched five times.
Nigel Bradham: 10 TKL
Jordan Hicks joined Bradham in filling up the box score with nine tackles, but impact plays were noticeably absent. It was also Bradham who took a bad angle clearing the way for the Saints’ 3rd-and-16 conversion.
Cre’Von LeBlanc: 3 TKL, 1 INT
Tough to get too down on a unit that needed Josh Hawkins to play meaningful snaps against a potent Saints offense. Yet outside LeBlanc, nobody was particularly effective in coverage, which surrendered 7.7 yards per attempt and two touchdowns with a 73.7 completion percentage.
Cameron Johnston: 48.2 AVG, 3 IN20
Johnston’s punting and the punt coverage were excellent. It was the Saints’ fake punt that sparked their comeback, however, and it happened against a bunch of Eagles starters who were looking for just such an attempt.
Eagles’ record: 10-8
Anybody bashing Jim Schwartz needs to wake up after the Eagles' D limited the Saints to 20 points behind efforts from guys like Hawkins, Tre Sullivan and Trayvon Hester. Doug Pederson motivated his team, too. They simply had too many injuries and ran into a superior opponent. Couldn’t have coached a much better game given the circumstances.
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