Andrew Kulp

Eagles report card: Birds get average grades but officials earn a big fat F

Eagles report card: Birds get average grades but officials earn a big fat F

No doubt, the Eagles would give the officials an F for completely changing the complexion of the game with a botched call on the opening kickoff of their 29-23 loss to the Cowboys. Were the play properly ruled a turnover, the Eagles likely open with a lead and some momentum, not another flat start.

Still, they were presented with opportunities as the game went on, and as the grades reflect, simply didn’t capitalize on enough.

Quarterback
Carson Wentz: 22/32, 228 YDS, 3 TD

For three-and-a-half quarters, Wentz was tentative and inaccurate, completing 15 of 24 passes for 118 yards while leading a lone two-yard touchdown drive. On the Eagles’ final two possessions, he completed seven of eight for 110 yards during marches of 47 and 65 yards. Clutch — but too little, too late.

Grade: C

Running backs
Darren Sproles: 3 REC, 34 YDS, 1 TD

Not much work on the ground but at least Sproles provided a spark in the passing game. Josh Adams accounted for seven of the unit’s 10 carries, going for 36 yards but stopped for a yard or less four times.

Grade: B-

Wide receivers and tight ends
Alshon Jeffery: 6 REC, 50 YDS, 1 TD

Thought Jeffery and Zach Ertz each should’ve come up with one that grazed off their fingertips. Either would’ve been tough grabs, for sure, but the type Pro Bowl players need to make. Dallas Goedert finished with four receptions, 44 yards and a touchdown, plus had a 75-yard score erased by a bogus penalty.

Grade: B-

Offensive line

Jason Peters got beat once, which led to a turnover, but the other sack was on the quarterback. All told, Wentz was only hit five times in 36 dropbacks. Tough sledding on the ground, though, with 12 called rushes averaging 2.7 yards per attempt.

Grade: B-

Defensive line
Michael Bennett: 7 TKL, 2 TFL, 1.5 SK, 5 QH

There are two names you can expect to see on the stat sheet every week: Bennett and Fletcher Cox. The duo combined for three tackles for loss, three sacks and nine quarterback hits. The rest of the D-line? Zero, zero and zero.

Grade: B

Linebackers
Nigel Bradham: 14 TKL

Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry combined for a whopping 28 tackles, including 13 solos. The unit cleaning up at the second level is a big reason All-Pro Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was “limited” to 113 yards and a 4.0 average.

Grade: B+

Secondary
Rasul Douglas: 9 TKL, 1 TFL, 1 INT

It’s a shame Douglas’ attempted pass breakup turned into the decisive Cowboys touchdown because he played well. Rough outing for Sidney Jones trying to battle through a hamstring injury. Jones eventually gave way to De’Vante Bausby, who was immediately torched for a 75-yard touchdown — Corey Graham watched. Dallas finished with 434 yards passing.

Grade: D

Special teams
Cameron Johnston: 46.0 AVG, 3 IN20

We can all count. Jake Elliott’s missed extra point would’ve helped.

Grade: C-

Coaching
Eagles’ record: 6-7

Some bizarre play calls. Dubious strategy using single coverage on Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper while he goes off for 217 yards and three touchdowns. But by now, everybody should realize Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz just don’t have the horses, especially when the officials are conspiring against them.

Grade: C

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Eagles not ready to say they're back to Super Bowl form … yet

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Eagles not ready to say they're back to Super Bowl form … yet

The Eagles are back in the thick of the playoff race and coming off their most impressive win of the season, depending who you ask.

Just don’t get too excited yet. The Eagles aren’t.

“We're not there yet, but we're getting close,” Doug Pederson said when asked if the Eagles’ season was starting to turn around after Monday’s victory, their first back-to-back wins in 2018.

After beating Washington, the Eagles remain one game back of Dallas for first place in the NFC East ahead of this Sunday’s head-to-head. Suddenly, the wild-card picture is wide open as well, leaving two potential paths back to the playoffs.

It’s also how they won. The Eagles’ 436 total yards of offense were a season-best, and 28 points their second-highest total this year and most in six games. Similarly, Washington’s 235 yards were a season-low for the Eagles’ defense, and 13 points surrendered their stingiest effort in six games.

All good signs, but not nearly enough to convince coaches and players the team has rounded back into Super Bowl form.

“We’re a long way from that, I promise you,” Lane Johnson said.

Turning a corner, at least?

“I don’t know,” Jason Kelce said. “I don’t want to say that.”

Can you blame them? Much was made over winning back-to-back games for the first time, capped by the first comfortable win since October. Yet, look at the level of competition they’ve faced, and it’s easy to see why there is cautious optimism.

A come-from-behind win over the lowly Giants does not instill a ton of confidence. Beating Washington with a third-string quarterback and a patchwork offensive line — both units comprised largely of men who weren’t on NFL rosters a month ago — isn’t very inspiring, either.

The Eagles know this, which is why the true test awaits in Dallas.

“We’ll see after this week,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “We understand where we are as far the season. No bigger game than this one coming up, so while we’re excited about putting two wins together, we don’t take care of business this week, it’s all for naught.”

None of which is to suggest the developments over the last two weeks aren’t promising. The Eagles were finding ways to lose situations like the Giants game earlier in the season and did exactly what good teams are supposed to do to damaged teams like Washington’s.

There appears to be a difference in confidence and demeanor, perhaps because the team is beginning to get healthy.

“You’re always playing nicked up," Kelce said, "but shortened offseason combined with the quarterback missing an entire offseason with the starting unit, left tackle coming off of an ACL injury, a bunch of guys coming off of late injuries, it’s hard from a chemistry standpoint.”

Kelce stressed injuries were no excuse, although it does seem to be a common denominator.

“I don’t know if we’re turning the corner, but we’re starting to run a little bit,” Johnson said. “I don’t know where we’re going, but I think we’re going in the right direction as far as we have guys coming back from injuries.”

Maybe the Eagles will revert back to Super Bowl form yet this season. All we know is the team isn’t there right now, with a huge game against the rival Cowboys looming.

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Eagles report card: Good, not overly impressive

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Eagles report card: Good, not overly impressive

The Eagles may have won comfortably on Monday night, defeating Washington 28-13, but this was not an easy game to grade.

The offense took a tortured path to its final score, with not one but two trips inside the red zone failing to end in points. Meanwhile, the defense did battle with Washington’s third-string quarterback and the collection of ex-grocery store clerks who form a makeshift offensive line.

A win is a win, but it wasn’t overly impressive.

Quarterback
Carson Wentz: 27/39, 306 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT, 98.9 RT

Not crisp. Wentz left some big plays on the field, overthrowing or underthrowing an open target at least five times, and the interception in the red zone, while tipped, was a baffling decision. This performance was good enough to beat Washington, but might not cut it against a better opponent.

Grade: B-

Running backs
Darren Sproles: 4 ATT, 22 YDS, 1 TD

Everybody played their role pretty much to perfection. Josh Adams was the workhorse with 20 carries for 85 yards. Corey Clement finished with 74 yards from scrimmage. Sproles was the spark, his 14-yard touchdown run put the Eagles ahead for good.

Grade: A

Wide receivers and tight ends
Golden Tate: 6 REC, 79 YDS, 1 TD

By far Tate’s most impactful game as an Eagle with three first downs, a six-yard touchdown, and a two-point conversion. Zach Ertz had a team-high eight receptions and Jordan Matthews found the end zone. Four players had at least three catches and 30 yards. Not one catchable pass hit the turf.

Grade: A

Offensive line

Eagles running backs averaged a healthy 4.6 yards per carry, while Washington recorded just four quarterback hits on 39 dropbacks. Not a flawless night’s work by any means, but certainly a win in the trenches against a quality defensive front.

Grade: B+

Defensive line
Brandon Graham: 3 TKL, 1.0 SK, 1 FF

Aside from a 90-yard run, the D-line controlled the game from the outset. Graham would’ve had two sacks were it not for a holding penalty, and Fletcher Cox got to the quarterback as well. Cox and Michael Bennett each recorded two tackles for loss.

Grade: B+

Linebacker
Nathan Gerry: 2 TKL, 1 INT

Kamu Grugier-Hill was absolutely stonewalled on Washington’s 90-yard run. Nigel Bradham was flying around, and Gerry’s interception set the Eagles up to put the game on ice late in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B+

Secondary
Rasul Douglas: 7 TKL, 1 TFL

Douglas got burned for a 32-yard gain early on, but recovered immediately with tackles on the next two plays, and later came up with a touchdown-saving stop on a trick play. Malcolm Jenkins registered a sack and knocked the starting quarterback out of the game. Sidney Jones missed a tackle on the 90-yarder.

Grade: B+

Special teams
Jake Elliott: 2/2 FG, 2/2 XP

Easy night for special teams, as Washington only attempted one kick or punt return. The kicking game was on point, though, and Sproles was a welcome addition to the punt return team, adding a 14-yard run back to his night.

Grade: A-

Coaching
Eagles’ record: 6-6

It looked like Jim Schwartz got a little too cute on that 90-yard touchdown, the first play with Mark Sanchez under center for Washington. Why such an exotic look? Some strange calls all around, but Doug Pederson stuck with the run again and the staff had the team ready to play a must-win game.

Grade: B

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