Grading the Eagles' 51-23 win over the Broncos in Week 9

Grading the Eagles' 51-23 win over the Broncos in Week 9

Grading the Eagles' 51-23 win Sunday over the Denver Broncos at Lincoln Financial Field (see breakdown):

Carson Wentz: 15/27, 199 YDS, 4 TD

Wentz put it to the Broncos' defense and the vaunted "No Fly Zone," and he made it look easy. This was supposed to be the No. 1 unit in the NFL, yet the Eagles moved up and down the field with ease. Wentz threw three touchdown passes in the game's first 21 minutes and then was, more or less, on autopilot the rest of the game. Also, something that won't show up in the box score, Wentz was able to draw Denver offside three times. Nick Foles was called upon to close out the fourth quarter for the second straight week.

Grade: A+

Jay Ajay: 8 ATT, 77 YDS, 1 TD
Corey Clement: 12 ATT, 51 YDS, 2 TD

What a debut for Ajayi. He served as a decoy on the Eagles' opening drive, which included a 32-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery in the first quarter. Then Ajayi broke off a 46-yard run to paydirt before halftime. If this is what the Eagles can expect for a fourth-round draft pick, they're straight stealing from the Dolphins. Clement also took a screen pass 15 yards for a score, found the end zone again on a two-yard carry and another from four out (see rookie report).

Grade: A+

Jeffery: 6 REC, 84 YDS, 2 TD

This was by far Jeffery's best game as an Eagle, and it came in a tough matchup against arguably the best secondary in the league. There were one or two he couldn't hold on to in tight coverage, but overall, this was more in line with the type of impact the club imagined when he signed in March. Quiet day for the rest of the group, though Nelson Agholor tacked on a 35-yard reception in garbage time.

Grade: A-

Trey Burton: 2 REC, 41 YDS, 1 TD

No Zach Ertz, no problem (see Roob's observations). Burton and Brent Celek filled in more than ably for the most productive tight end in the league. Burton hauled in a 27-yard touchdown on a rainbow pass from Wentz, and with three catches for 39 yards, Celek enjoyed his most productive game in over a year.

Grade: A+

Lane Johnson: Left game in fourth quarter

Brandon Brooks was absolutely mauling people out there. The right guard had the key block on both Clement's and Ajayi's touchdowns, taking out two Broncos defenders on the latter. This was probably the cleanest Wentz's jersey has been all season, too. Denver's vaunted pass rush managed to register just one hit on Wentz, as tackles Johnson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai combined to silence the great Von Miller. Even without Jason Peters, this looks like one of the best O-lines in football as long as Johnson can stay healthy.

Grade: A+

Vinny Curry: 2 TKL, 2 TFL, 1.0 SK

The Eagles established themselves as the No. 1 run defense in the NFL. The Broncos ran 19 times for a whopping 35 yards. That's 1.8 yards per carry. That's so bad, it's a wonder they bothered trying for so long in such a lopsided game. Of course, Denver needed to do something to take the heat off of their quarterback. The front four whacked Brock Osweiler six times, including three hits from Fletcher Cox alone. Brandon Graham had a team-high five tackles.

Grade: A+

Mychal Kendricks: 4 TKL, 2 PD, 1 QBH

Life must be good behind the Eagles' D-line. Kendricks and Nigel Bradham didn't do much, really. The duo combined to make eight tackles and Bradham registered a sack. They didn't have the numbers, but they got the job done.

Grade: A-

Patrick Robinson, Rodney McLeod: 1 INT each

In all, the Eagles' secondary got hands on seven Osweiler passes, including the two interceptions. It was nearly three turnovers, but Rasul Douglas couldn't hang on to a potential pick-six on Denver's opening possession. Demaryius Thomas was kept in check — eight receptions for 70 yards and a late, meaningless score — and the rest of the Broncos' receivers never really threatened. Just think about this group once Ronald Darby gets back in the mix.

Grade: A

Jake Elliott: 1/1 FG, 6/7 XP

The Eagles had a rare special teams miscue that resulted in a 44-yard punt return. Mack Hollins whiffed on the tackle, but Corey Graham was there to clean up the mistake and save a touchdown. Little else of note from this phase.

Grade: B

Eagles' record: 8-1

Doug Pederson's game plan was on point in the first half. He rolled Wentz out of the pocket. He used Ajayi as a decoy. He attacked Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib's aggressive nature. His screens and misdirection plays all seemed to be perfectly timed. The play-calling was great. Jim Schwartz's plan was money, too. His defense got after the quarterback early and often and never let the new starter get into a rhythm. Pederson and Schwartz look brilliant right now — probably because they have been more weeks than not.

Grade: A+

Eagle Eye Podcast: What to expect from Andy Weidl?

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagle Eye Podcast: What to expect from Andy Weidl?

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro discuss what Eagles' fans should expect from Andy Weidl taking over for Joe Douglas.

The guys break down their 53-man roster projection.

Also, Dave's international vacation plan.

1:30 - How does Andy Weidl fill Joe Douglas' void?
5:30 - Jeff Lurie's vision.
13:00 - Eagles' stability as a franchise has been a separator.
19:30 - Impact of Joe Douglas taking the Jets job.
29:00 - 53-man roster projection.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

The franchise quarterback returns, while a Philadelphia legend departs. Will the Eagles be better or worse under center in 2019?

Key addition: Clayton Thorson (draft, fifth round) 
Key departure: Nick Foles (free agent, Jaguars)

Why they could be better: Carson Wentz is finally healthy

Wentz’s struggles in 2018 – as much as a 69.6 completion percentage, 7.7 yards per pass attempt and 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio can be described as struggling – were easy to see coming. He was a third-year quarterback only nine months removed from a torn ACL and spent the majority of the offseason rehabbing rather than working on his timing in the offense and building a rapport with receivers. No doubt he was putting unrealistic pressure on himself, too.

The injury is finally behind Wentz though, as is the broken back bone that shelved him in December. He’s entering his fourth season, so his comfort level in the offense should be nearing its peak, and he has all spring and summer to get on the same page with his numerous weapons. With his health and contract situations resolved, all Wentz needs to worry about now is playing football – which, as you might recall, he’s pretty good at.

Why they could be worse: Unproven backup

The Eagles really like Nate Sudfeld. They promoted him from the practice squad to the 53-man roster during the 2017 season to prevent another team from signing him. They let him serve as the backup quarterback in the Super Bowl. And they tendered him at a second-round level as a restricted free agent this offseason, effectively ensuring his return while paying him over $3 million.

This will be Sudfeld’s third year in the system, so he should know what he’s doing at least. Yet, the fact is he’s attempted just 25 passes in the NFL. There’s simply no telling how good he is. It’s nothing like bringing Nick Foles off the bench. He had won 24 games, threw 66 touchdown passes and went to a Pro Bowl before adding Super Bowl MVP to his resume. Sudfeld has talent and familiarity with the offense, plus a quality supporting cast. He probably wouldn’t be a disaster, but could he save the Eagles’ season if called upon? Impossible to say.

The X-factor: Can Wentz stay healthy for 16-plus games?

People are quick to throw around the injury prone label, often unfairly, but Wentz has been seriously hurt in each of his last four seasons going back to college. He broke a bone in his throwing wrist at North Dakota State, suffered a hairline rib fracture in preseason during his rookie year (though he played all 16 regular season games), then had the ACL and the back. Injury prone or not, that’s an alarming trend.

These are unrelated injuries, so it’s possible Wentz has been unlucky. It’s also very likely the Eagles’ fortunes this season are hinging on this hope. Wentz could help himself by getting rid of the ball quicker on occasion or giving up on a few more plays. Then again, he’s the quarterback. He’s going to get hit sometimes. All anybody can do is wait and see if he keeps getting up.

Are the Eagles’ quarterbacks better or worse?

The overall talent in the room undeniably dips with Foles’ departure. Yet, ideally, Wentz is the only signal caller taking meaningful snaps for the Eagles, and he should take another step forward in 2019 provided he can stay on the field. This is a matter of perspective, but to me, having an MVP-caliber quarterback at 100 percent is far more important than the guys sitting on the bench. 


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