Midterms: Grading every player on Eagles offense

Midterms: Grading every player on Eagles offense

The Eagles are 4-4 after playing half of their 2018 schedule. It’s been a disappointing first half, but they’re still alive in the division. 

Here’s a quick first-half evaluation of every offensive player on the roster right now. We'll evaluate every player on the defense tomorrow: 

Josh Adams: The rookie finally became part of the rotation in Week 8. Didn’t have high expectations, but he’s been OK: B- 

Nelson Agholor: Weird season for Nelly so far, averaging just 9.1 yards per receptions. I think that’s more game plan than him:

Brandon Brooks: If you haven’t noticed an offensive guard through eight weeks, he’s doing his job:

DeAndre Carter: He hasn’t done much offensively, but has become a good punt returner in Sproles’ absence. He’s done a solid job: B

Corey Clement: It’s been a disappointing season for Clement. He got hurt and now he’s behind Wendell Smallwood on the depth chart and averaging 3.3 yards per carry. He hasn’t gotten a ton of chances, but he needs to make more of the ones he gets: D 

Zach Ertz: Don’t look now, but Ertz is on pace for one of the greatest statistical seasons in NFL history … and not just for a tight end: A+ 

Nick Foles: He started two games and the Birds went 1-1. Not a lot to go off of for Foles:

Shelton Gibson: The Eagles need a speed receiver and Gibson can’t get on the field. I partly blame the coaches for that, but some of it has to be Gibson. At least he’s a really good gunner: C 

Dallas Goedert: The rookie has had a modest showing as a receiver, but does have three touchdown catches. And he’s already proven to be the best blocking tight end on the team: B+

Alshon Jeffery: Man, did the Eagles miss this guy. Since coming back, Jeffery has 29 catches for 341 yards and four touchdowns. He’s been a No. 1:

Lane Johnson: After an All-Pro season a year ago, Johnson wasn’t playing at his best and has had a couple injuries. Wasn’t a good first half of the season:

Jason Kelce: While he’ll never admit it, Kelce looked hurt early in the season, but he’s starting to look healthier after a shaky start: C+ 

Jordan Mailata: We haven’t seen the Aussie in game action yet, but he never played football and he’s on the team and has shown enough to be active on some game days: B

Jordan Matthews: He wasn’t even on the team to start the season, but he’s fourth on the team in receiving and has made a few key third-down grabs: B+

Josh Perkins: I’ll probably never understand why the Eagles played Perkins so much early in the season. He has five catches through eight games: C-  

Jason Peters: I give him credit for playing through injuries and 75 percent of Peters is still better than a lot of tackles in the NFL. But he set the bar sooo high:

Matt Pryor: We haven’t seen Pryor yet this season: Incomplete 

Isaac Seumalo: After a shaky start at left guard when he was put there, he’s been playing well. And his versatility/ability to play right tackle has proved really valuable:

Wendell Smallwood: He wasn’t supposed to be on the team and now he’s leading the team in rushing. Give the guy credit: B+

Darren Sproles: It’s a shame that Sproles has been out since the opener: Incomplete 

Nate Sudfeld: He looks damn good holding that clipboard: Incomplete 

Halapoulivaati Vaitai: He’s played 177 snaps so far this season and he hasn’t looked good. The Eagles need more from him: D

Chance Warmack: Hasn’t been on the field, which is telling. And he’s getting paid for not coming close to playing: D

Carson Wentz: What this guy is doing coming off an ACL surgery is remarkable. Ding him for a few things if you want, but he’s playing at an incredibly high level:

Stefen Wisniewski: I didn’t think Wiz was playing super bad when he got benched. He didn’t take it well: C 

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Greg Ward is the receiver Malcolm Jenkins wanted all along

Greg Ward is the receiver Malcolm Jenkins wanted all along

While the Eagles were busy trying to cobble together a wide receiver corps with Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Jenkins was campaigning for somebody else to get a shot.

Greg Ward.

“I’ve been calling for him to get called up to the active roster since training camp,” Jenkins said Thursday.

Nobody listened.

Instead, Ward spent nine of the first 10 weeks of the season on the practice squad. The one week he was on the active roster, against the Lions, he only got two snaps on offense. 

Then it was back to the practice squad.

Once Ward finally landed on the 53-man roster for good and actually got a chance to play and the Eagles saw what he could do, the Eagles released both Hollins and Matthews in the span of nine days.

Hollins played 473 snaps and had 10 catches in 11 games. That's a catch every 47.3 snaps.

Matthews played 137 snaps and had four catches in two games. That's a catch every 34.3 snaps.

Ward has played 145 snaps in three games and already has 11 receptions. That's a catch every 13.2 snaps.

Ward's eight-yard catch in overtime Monday night got the Eagles down to the two-yard-line, setting up Carson Wentz's game-winning TD pass to Zach Ertz.

How did the Eagles not realize for 2 1/2 months that Ward was a better option than Hollins or Matthews?

It’s not like he’s new here. Ward was on the practice squad all year in 2017 and in training camp in 2018 as well before leading the ill-fated AAF in receiving.

Boston Scott, Josh Perkins and Ward, who were all on the practice squad for a good chunk of this season, had 15 catches for 140 yards (and 59 rushing yards and a TD) in the Eagles’ win over the Giants.

Hollins? Hasn't caught a pass since September. 

Matthews? He's back with the 49ers, who've already cut him twice this year (without a catch).

Scott, like Ward, was buried on the depth chart while the Eagles went out and got Jay Ajayi, who is averaging 3.0 yards on 10 carries. Not until Miles Sanders had to leave the game briefly Monday night did the Eagles finally let Scott play. And that was the last we saw of Ajayi.

On the one hand, it’s good that these practice squad guys are contributing because it shows that the Eagles at least liked them enough to sign them and keep them around.

But why they stuck with guys like Ajayi, Hollins and Matthews for so long before finally letting Scott, Perkins and Ward play remains a mystery.

How could they not tell they could play?

“Not necessarily surprised because we see it every day,” Jenkins said. “These are guys who make us better and challenge us. I’m just excited to see them, No. 1, have the opportunity but to take full advantage of it and really help us get a win. I don’t think we get the win without them. To see them get the opportunity, I’m definitely proud.

“It does create some energy when you see them make plays. When guys you expect to make plays make plays, it’s one thing. But all of a sudden you have Perkins and Boston and G. Ward making plays, it adds a little juice to the team.” 

You just have to wonder why it took so long for them to even get the opportunity to add a little juice to the team.

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Kamu Grugier-Hill admits to lying about concussion to stay in game

Kamu Grugier-Hill admits to lying about concussion to stay in game

Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill on Thursday admitted that when he suffered his concussion in Miami two weeks ago, he lied to medical personnel to stay in the game.

He told them he hurt his shoulder.

“I just basically lied to them,” Grugier-Hill said. “I thought it would just go away. Just didn’t really say anything about it. It got to the point where I really couldn’t lie to them anymore.”

The concussion happened on the first play from scrimmage in the game against the Dolphins, when the starting linebacker collided with receiver DeVante Parker. That means he played a total of 54 combined defensive and special teams snaps with a concussion that game.

Eventually, when the headaches didn’t subside, Grugier-Hill reported the concussion symptoms to trainers on Thursday, four days after the head shot. He was put in the NFL’s concussion protocol and missed the Giants game. He has since been cleared and will return to action in Washington this weekend.

Grugier-Hill, 25, said he had never had a concussion before and didn’t know exactly what it felt like. Last week, head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles encourage all their players to report concussion symptoms and self police.

Does Grugier-Hil regret his decision?

“No,” he said. “I mean, I wish we would have at least got a win.”

There’s no questioning Grugier-Hill’s loyalty but lying to medical staff about a brain injury is nothing to be praised; it’s dangerous. But at least Grugier-Hill was honest about his decision — plenty of players aren’t.

And this certainly wasn’t the first time — nor will it be the last — that a player decides to stay in a game even though they know they might be concussed.

Back in 2015, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins admitted he played through more than an entire half against the Cowboys with a concussion. After eventually getting through the protocol, Jenkins said he felt “foggy” for the entire second half.

That’s the hole in the NFL’s concussion policy. The league has concussion spotters in the press box at every game and has made strides to prevent and detect these head injuries earlier, but players are still willing to put their long-term health on the line to stay in games. And Eagles medical personnel can’t treat a concussion they don’t know exists. It’s a hard problem to fix.

As far as the league has come, concussions are still far too normalized in the sport.

“I think it’s just part of the game,” Grugier-Hill said. “You get rocked a little bit every once in a while.”

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