Eagles Week 8 report card: 'A' performances needed from stars

Eagles Week 8 report card: 'A' performances needed from stars

A narrow 24-18 win over the Jaguars (see observations) may not seem impressive, but the Eagles needed a lot of “A” performances from stars to pull out the victory in London.

Carson Wentz: 21/30, 286 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT

One of Wentz’s most impressive performances to date considering he was under constant pressure. Navigated messy pockets, hit the deck when necessary and showed escapability, rushing six times for 28 yards. Fumbled and threw a pick on Eagles’ opening possessions, then led scoring drives on four of next six possessions. Touchdowns two and three were special plays.

Grade: A-

Running backs
Josh Adams: 9 ATT, 61 YDS

Replay saved Adams from a near-fumble at the Eagles’ own 35-yard line in the fourth quarter, almost negating earlier gains of 21 and 17 yards. Wendell Smallwood took a screen 36 yards to the house, while Corey Clement’s five touches went for five yards. Pass protection was a serious issue.

Grade: B-

Wide receivers/tight ends
Jordan Matthews: 4 REC, 93 YDS

Matthews made big plays — two receptions over 30 yards — and clutch plays, including a 36-yard gain on the decisive scoring drive, and a 13-yard grab to help ice the game. Five players had at least 26 yards receiving, including Dallas Goedert with a 32-yard catch-and-run to the end zone and Zach Ertz, who caught the five-yard game-winner.

Grade: A-

Offensive line

Lane Johnson exited and did not return and Jason Peters missed a few series, thrusting unreliable Halapoulivaati Vaitai into action. Then again, Vaitai wasn’t on the field when Wentz got clocked from behind and fumbled on the Eagles’ opening possession. The quarterback bailed the O-line out.

Grade: C

Defensive line
Chris Long: 2 TKL, 1 TFL, 2.0 SK

The Eagles weren’t able to mount much of a pass rush without blitzing. Only six quarterback hits on 49 dropbacks from the front four, though two sacks for Long and a half-sack for Michael Bennett. Fletcher Cox also came up big when it mattered most with back-to-back pressures on third and fourth down of the Jaguars’ final series, including a batted pass.

Grade: B-

Jordan Hicks: 12 TKL, 1 TFL, 1.5 SK

The blitz was effective in part because Hicks is so disruptive. He’s usually all over the field, but this was a ton of plays in the backfield even for him. Nigel Bradham added seven tackles and a pass breakup. The unit did a nice job limiting a scrambling quarterback.

Grade: A-

Malcolm Jenkins: 4 TKL, 2 PD, 1 FR

Jenkins and Avonte Maddox each surrendered a touchdown, but created more big plays than they gave up. Maddox altered the momentum permanently with a forced fumble in Eagles territory. Cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas — subbing for an injured Jalen Mills — had quietly strong games as well. Nickel cornerback Dexter McDougle was the obvious weak link.

Grade: B+

Special teams
Jake Elliott: 1/1 FG, 3/3 XP

Perfect kicking day was needed from Elliott. A 29-yard Jaguars’ punt return was not great for the coverage unit.

Grade: B

Eagles’ record: 4-4

Kudos to Jim Schwartz this week, recognizing the defensive line wasn’t getting the job done and bringing extra pressure pretty frequently. Didn’t get the sense either Schwartz or Doug Pederson took the foot off the gas pedal, either. There are a lot of injuries on both sides of the ball, but the game plan was built to suit the personnel that’s out there. Bonus points for winning in London.

Grade: A-

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Eagles to host New Jersey high school football game suspended after shooting

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Eagles to host New Jersey high school football game suspended after shooting

The Eagles on Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field will host the rest of a New Jersey high school playoff football game that was suspended because of a shooting. 

The game between Pleasantville High School and Camden High School was stopped on Friday night after a shooting in the crowd in Pleasantville that left three wounded, including a 10-year-old boy and a 15-year-old student

According to NBC 10, a suspect has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and two weapons counts, while three other men have been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. 

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) announced on Monday afternoon that the Eagles offered up their stadium to finish the approximately 17 remaining minutes of the playoff game. The NJSIAA had been looking for a neutral site. 

Larry White, the executive director of the NJSIAA, said the following in a statement released Monday: 

“It’s extremely unfortunate that a senselessly violent act has impacted this game, and there will certainly be a wide range of emotions along both sidelines. However, thanks to the Eagles’ generosity and community spirit, Pleasantville and Camden student-athletes and their families will have an opportunity to write their own ending to this game. They’ll compete on a world-class stage, sending a clear message that violence will not win.”

The Eagles are expected to release a statement and more information about the game on Tuesday. 

The NJSIAA took up the Eagles on their offer but thanked other schools for their assistance. The Black Horse Pike School District also offered to host the game. 

The game will resume at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. While the Linc will be closed to the public, each school will be given free passes for players’ parents and family members. The game will also be streamed live on NJ.com. 

The shooting on Friday night occurred in the third quarter with Camden leading 6-0. The winner of this game will face Cedar Creek on Saturday, Nov. 30 for the Central Group 2 Sectional Championship. 

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The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The Eagles on Friday signed running back Jay Ajayi for the rest of the 2019 season, but based on what’s written into the contract, the Eagles will basically have the option to bring him back in 2020. 

Here’s the report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport: 

So basically, Ajayi will kind of be a restricted free agent at the lowest (right of first refusal) level. That means the Eagles have the option to match a contract and keep the player, but won’t get compensation back if he goes elsewhere like a higher-level tendered player. The Eagles will still be eligible for a compensatory pick if Ajayi signs elsewhere and they don't match the offer. 

This is an interesting wrinkle to Ajayi’s contract, especially in the entire scope of the Eagles’ running back situation. 

Because, remember, Jordan Howard is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. As long as he’s able to return from this stinger soon, he would be a realistic candidate to get an extension before the end of the season. But, to me, this part of Ajayi’s contract is sort of like an insurance policy if the Eagles aren’t able to re-sign Howard during free agency. Or if they choose to move on from Howard. 

The Eagles seem to like having a running back rotation and the only running back guaranteed to return in 2020 is Miles Sanders. Either Howard or a healthy Ajayi (we’ll see) would seemingly be a good complement. 

I say we’ll see because Ajayi hasn’t played football in over a year. He signed on Friday, but Doug Pederson opted to not play him two days later. During his career, Ajayi has been a very productive runner, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. 

But Ajayi, 26, tore his ACL last season and already had long-standing knee issues, so there’s some serious doubt about his football future. Ajayi will have a chance to answer some of those questions in the final six games of the 2019 season. 

“We will incorporate him,” Pederson said on Monday. “Again, if Jordan (Howard) … if he doesn't practice or whatever during the week then we definitely will get Jay ready to go.”

The Eagles at least took out an insurance policy of sorts. If Ajayi does have something left, they’ll have the option of bringing him back in 2020 no matter what other team is interested in him.

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