Andrew Kulp

What to make of Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson's nights? Our Week 2 Eagles report card after loss to Falcons

What to make of Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson's nights? Our Week 2 Eagles report card after loss to Falcons

Eagles fans won’t want to hear this, but there’s nothing for the team to be ashamed of after a 24-20 loss to the Falcons on Sunday night. 

The injuries started in warmups with tight end Dallas Goedert and continued to pile up as the game went on, with Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Tim Jernigan and Sidney Jones among the players who came off the field at some point. Add in the road trip, and it was a tough game.

Sure, the Eagles had opportunities to steal a win, and that’s reflected in the grades. But by and large, this isn’t a terrible report card considering what transpired in Atlanta.

Quarterbacks

Carson Wentz: 25/43, 231 YDS, TD, 2 INT

Was Wentz hurt, or was the offense out of sync because the Eagles were suddenly down to their backup receivers? Whatever was ailing the signal caller, he snapped out of it in the second half, completing 19 of 27 passes for 184 yards with two scores — one passing, one rushing — plus he put the possible game-winning touchdown on Nelson Agholor's fingertips. By no means a classically great performance, but a gutsy game for Wentz, particularly under the circumstances.

Grade: B-

Running backs

Miles Sanders: 10 ATT, 28 YDS, 3 REC, 9 YDS

Sanders is explosive when he’s moving north-south, but has a tendency to bounce runs outside, to limited success. To be fair, the backs didn’t have a ton of room to operate. Looked like Darren Sproles might’ve missed his assignment in pass protection on an interception.

Grade: C

Wide receivers and tight ends

Nelson Agholor: 8 REC, 107 YDS, TD

There’s no getting around it. Agholor’s drop in the fourth quarter might’ve cost the Eagles the game. Atlanta would’ve had an opportunity with the ball, but that was six points. Backbreaker. Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery all exited in the first quarter with injuries. Mack Hollins helped pick up the slack with five catches for 50 yards, though he often did not appear to be on the same page with his quarterback.

Grade: D

Offensive line

Eagles running backs carries 18 times for 46 yards — a 2.6 average — and didn’t record a gain over five yards. Five! Atlanta’s pass rush enjoyed some success too, registering 10 quarterback hits and three sacks. Give the Falcons’ front and pressure packages some credit, but this unit has set the bar high and didn’t meet those expectations.

Grade: C

Defensive line

Derek Barnett: TFL, 3 QH

The numbers won’t do them justice, but the pass rush helped create three interceptions despite five quarterback hits and zero sacks. Falcons running backs also carried 15 times for 54 yards, a 3.6 average. Barnett and Brandon Graham set the tone with their efforts.

Grade: B

Linebackers

Nate Gerry: 2 TKL, INT

It might’ve been a case of right place, right time. Regardless, Gerry’s end zone pick kept the Falcons off the board and gave the Eagles a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Clutch. Zach Brown led the unit with five tackles. Nigel Bradham left some plays out there, though.

Grade: B

Defensive backs

Sidney Jones: 6 TKL, INT

Ronald Darby was getting killed, and rightfully so as the Falcons were clearly picking on him. Yet on the 34-yard touchdown over the top, it was Andrew Sendejo arriving late with the help. Darby’s play picked up in the second half, as did the rest of the secondary. Darby and Jones had picks, Andrew Sendejo a sack, and Rodney McLeod was everywhere with a team-high seven tackles. Unfortunately, the lasting image will be Avonte Maddox getting buried on the game-winning screen.

Grade: C

Special teams

Cameron Johnston: 52.3 AVG, 3 IN20

Underrated moment that will go forgotten: Corey Clement’s kick return fumble to open the second half. Three plays later, the Falcons were in the end zone. For what it’s worth, Clement was injured during the return. Still, a big turnover that marred an otherwise solid night for special teams.

Grade: C-

Coaching

Eagles’ record: 1-1

Jim Schwartz’s aggression may very well have kept the Eagles in the game and eventually turned the tides, but a zero blitz on 4th-and-3 turned out to be the call of the game. The Falcons caught Schwartz with a wide receiver screen, which Julio Jones took 54 yards to the house for the win. Also of note, Doug Pederson’s run-pass ratio — 72 percent pass in a game in which two starting receivers and a tight end were all lost to injury early in the first quarter.

Grade: C-

 



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'Feeling free,' Carson Wentz reminds us why he's so special

'Feeling free,' Carson Wentz reminds us why he's so special

Fans can breathe a sigh of relief after a vintage Carson Wentz performance in the Eagles’ 32-27 win over Washington in Week 1.

Wentz eluded tacklers in the pocket. He threw accurately on the run. He converted multiple third-and-longs.

After back-to-back injury-shortened seasons for the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, there were finally signs Wentz is fully returned to his 2017 form.

“It looked like he was playing and wasn’t thinking about anything,” Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said. “That’s really it. There weren’t any injuries in the back of his mind.”

Though Wentz was a statistically improved passer in several areas last season, he never quite looked like himself coming back from a torn ACL. His feel for the pocket, mobility and vision were inconsistent, and with the added stress of playing through a back injury, he never truly got comfortable.

For the first time in over a year, there were a handful of moments during the same game where Wentz showed what makes him so special. Sure, he completed a pair of 50-yard touchdowns to DeSean Jackson — but a five-yard score to Alshon Jeffery was arguably his most impressive throw.

Wentz dipped under a potential sack, stepped through the pocket, rolled to his right and threw an absolute laser to Jeffery in the end zone.

“I was feeling free being able to get rid of the knee brace and just go play ball,” said Wentz. “It’s been a blessing, and I’m thankful for the way that recovery went.”

There were several times Wentz was on target while throwing on the run. He was also uncannily precise on third downs, seemingly no matter the distance, dropping back eight times on 3rd-and-7 or longer, converting four times with two touchdowns.

During his MVP-caliber 2017 season, Wentz was money on third downs and in the red zone. The fact that he was able to replicate that on Sunday is perhaps the best argument he’s all the way back.

“A lot of teams give up on third-and-long and just take a screen,” said Wentz. “We’re going to just take what is there sometimes, but we’re going to try to push the ball down the field when we can and make plays. It was good to see that we were able to do that today.”

Wentz did get off to a bit of a slow start, completing nine of his first 12 passes for just 45 yards while the offense sputtered on its first three series. Of course, he also didn’t play a single snap in the preseason or since early December of last season, so some rust was to be expected.

He shook it off early enough to lead the Eagles to a win, completing 19 of his final 27 passes for 265 yards — a 9.8 average — with three touchdowns.

“I thought he played within himself,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I thought he really saw the field extremely well. Distributed the ball well. Made the checks that we needed him to make. He played well.”

If he plays like this every week this season, Wentz will once again find himself in the running for an MVP award, and the Eagles will be playing deep into January.

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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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