Eagles

Report card for Week 1 after Eagles wake up from bad dream to beat Redskins

Report card for Week 1 after Eagles wake up from bad dream to beat Redskins

It was as if a bad dream was unfolding on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles trailed Washington, 17-0, five minutes into second quarter, and 20-7 at halftime.

Then the team woke up.

The Eagles erupted for 25 unanswered points in the second half completed the relatively easy 32-27 win everybody expected from the regular season opener (see Roob's observations). 

More on the victory in the Week 1 report card.

Quarterback

Carson Wentz: 28/39, 313 YDS, 3 TD

Whether because it was rust or by design, Wentz didn’t push the ball downfield much the first few series. Once he finally let loose, the game was over. Wentz completed nine of his first 12 passes for 45 yards on the Eagles’ first three series — 3.8 yards per attempt — then went 19 of 27 for 265 yards (a 9.8 average) with three touchdowns.

Grade: A-

Running backs

Darren Sproles: 9 CAR, 47 YDS, 3 REC, 16 YDS

Sproles led the way in total yards, but Jordan Howard’s 7.3 yards per carry on six rushing attempts were more than two full yards better. Miles Sanders struggled somewhat in his NFL debut, running 11 times for just 25 yards, but had a slippery 21-yard touchdown erased by penalty. The rookie also held up in pass protection.

Grade: B+

Wide receivers and tight ends

DeSean Jackson: 8 REC, 154 YDS, 2 TD

Jackson caught eight of 10 targets, including scores of 51 and 53 yards and six first downs. Alshon Jeffery added two touchdowns — one receiving, one rushing — and Zach Ertz pitched in 54 yards.

Grade: A+

Offensive line

Eagles running backs averaged 4.5 yards per carry, Wentz converted all three quarterback sneak attempts for first downs, and the quarterback was hit just four times all game, including a sole coverage sack that lost zero yards. Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Brandon Brooks at right guard late in the game and promptly committed two holding penalties.

Grade: A

Defensive line

Derek Barnett: 4 TKL, 3 QBH

Washington backs carried 13 times for just 28 yards — a 2.2 average — but the pass rush non-existent almost the entire first half. Once the front four turned up the heat in the first half, Washington didn’t score again until garbage time. Tim Jernigan had the Eagles’ lone sack and joined Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham in recording a tackle for a loss.

Grade: B

Linebackers

Nigel Bradham: 7 TKL

Guess it’s a good thing Bradham wasn’t suspended. His stop on 3rd-and-3 late in the second quarter got the Eagles the ball back with time to score — even if the offense wasn’t able to do anything with it. Zach Brown added two tackles.

Grade: B

Secondary

Ronald Darby: 5 TKL, 2 PD

Strong performance both in coverage and run support by Darby in his first game back from a torn ACL, though he dropped an interception. Andrew Sendejo and Rasaul Douglas each gave up long touchdowns though — Sendejo tripped then missed the tackle on a 48-yard score, while Douglas got smoked on a 69-yard bomb.

Grade: B-

Special teams

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

Elliott was perfect, his six points proving the edge in a five-point win. Sproles aided the Eagles in the field position battle with a 17-yard punt return and 11.5 average, as did Cameron Johnston with 51.3 yards per punt. Good day for the coverage units as well, as Washington averaged 15.3 yards per kick return and called for a fair catch on two of three punts.

Grade: A-

Coaching

Eagles’ record: 1-0

Doug Pederson’s early play calling was overly conservative, particularly a pitch on 3rd-and-2. Once the Eagles started taking shots downfield, Washington had no answers. Defensively, the issues seemed to be less Jim Schwartz’s game plan and more the execution.

Grade: B-



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Is this the year Jordan Mailata goes from project to player?

Is this the year Jordan Mailata goes from project to player?

A couple years ago, when the Eagles drafted Jordan Mailata in the 7th round of the NFL draft, I asked him a question and he gave an answer that has followed him. 

How much did you know about American football just a few months before the Eagles drafted you? 

“Mate, as little as peanuts.” 

By the end of his first training camp, Mailata said he had reached a quarter of a bag of peanuts. And it’s clear he has made progress. But now, entering Year 3 in the NFL, it’s time to start asking if Mailata has finally filled that bag. 

In other words, is this the year Mailata goes from a project to a real NFL player? 

“Look, I’m always as honest as I can be. I don’t want to lead you down a garden path, OK,” offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said last week on a Zoom call with reporters. “So I always try to tell you that absolute truth; you guys know that. … I can’t answer that question right now.” 

Hopefully, we get our answer soon enough. 

Stoutland said the reason he couldn’t answer that question is because he needs to see Mailata do it on the field. That might have hit a snag last week, when Mailata was one of three Eagles placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning he either tested positive for COVID-19 or was exposed to somebody who did. Lane Johnson said publicly that he tested positive. 

So, obviously, everyone is hoping Mailata is healthy; that’s more important. But he also can’t afford to miss any grass time, especially in a training camp that won’t have preseason games. With such limited game experience in his life, those preseason games were more important for Mailata than any other player on the roster. And now he’ll have only training camp practices and that will only happen once he’s off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

The good news is that Stoutland is very optimistic. 

“I can say this: In the meetings that we have, the virtual meetings, he was a completely different guy in the meetings,” Stoutland said. “And, you’re going to say, ‘What do you mean by that?’ His confidence level. Because we require these guys to know a lot and to be able to convert blocking schemes and calls. Completely, completely different in the meeting. 

“Now, will that carry over to the field? Every morning when I come here I pray that’s what will happen. Do I think that will happen? Absolutely. But I can’t guarantee that. We’re going to find out, though. That’s what this is all about. And if it does carry over then we got action. We’re going to be in good shape.”

This offseason, Halapoulivaati Vaitai left in free agency and got a big contract with the Detroit Lions, which means the Eagles’ depth at offensive tackle took a big hit. But then they drafted two players with tackle experience and brought back Jason Peters to play guard and also be insurance at tackle. 

So the Eagles have options if Mailata doesn’t work out or if he isn’t ready. But in Year 3, it’s probably time to get past the project phase. 

Mailata is still just 23 but in his first two NFL seasons he still hasn’t played in a single regular-season game. And he has ended both years on Injured Reserve with back injuries. 

But all the traits the Eagles saw in Mailata when they drafted for former rugby player to play offensive tackle are still there. 

Mailata is 6-foot-8, 346 pounds, incredibly strong, athletic and willing to learn. And in last year’s preseason, he looked good. We saw progress. Really, we’ve seen progress every time Mailata steps foot on a football field. 

But is he ready to be an NFL player and not just the guy trying to become an NFL player? 

We’ll find out soon enough. 

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Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

On Friday, two days before Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19, several of his assistant coaches spoke about how effective they believe the Eagles’ safety protocols are inside the NovaCare Complex and how safe they consider the facility.

The Eagles, under the direction of vice president of football operations and compliance Jon Ferrari, reconfigured the South Philadelphia facility over the last several weeks to comply with NFL safety measures once the players arrived.

On Monday, the Eagles' so-called IDER plan – that stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan – was approved by the league, meaning the team's plan to deal with the virus in the facility met the safety standards required by the league and the players' association.

Yet here we are.

Without knowing how or where Pederson contracted the virus, it’s impossible to determine whether the safety measures are working. 

If nobody else in the building contracts it, they’re working. If it turns out there are additional positive tests within the building in the coming days, it’s possible that even the strictest adherence to the safety measures isn’t enough.

We’ll know more in the coming days, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, running backs coach and assistant head coach (and interim head coach) Duce Staley and special teams coach Dave Fipp all spoke on Friday about how effective the measures the Eagles took to create a safe working environment appeared to be.

Stoutland: “Coming through the front door, going through the gate, getting tested each morning, I gotta tell you guys, I’ve never felt more safe in my life. I told my wife that, I told my kids that. Mr. (Jeff) Lurie, he cares about his team, his coaches, and just proves it once again with the group of people that he’s put together to organize this whole operation. It’s all different, it’s all new, (team president) Don Smolenski, Jon Ferrari, it’s unbelievable. Every little detail that’s going on right now, the door handles, everything that I notice, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, they think of everything to keep us safe.’ That part of it is great I think for all of us because it kind of lets you (know), ‘OK, let me just focus on my job and detail what I have to do and the other stuff, we’re good. We’re going to be in good hands.’”

Staley: “We have to be careful, that’s something that all coaches are being redundant with. We’re talking with our players, we’re talking amongst ourselves. We’re all reminding each other how serious this is, reminding ourselves as coaches and reminding the players. This is a different time for us and as a team we must make the adjustments so we can be successful down the road. We must make the adjustments. I think the Eagles, this organization, Howie, Jeffery, along with Jon Ferrari, they’ve got a great plan here for us while we’re in the building, so we feel 100 percent safe in the building. Now, we understand everything going on, how it can be contracted, but we feel safe.”

Fipp: “I think common sense is the biggest thing. Gotta be smart, obviously. There’s definitely an issue going on out there. I think we feel good about it as long as we wear masks and take care of our responsibility outside the building. I feel great about being inside the building.”

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