Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Chargers
The Philadelphia Eagles made the long trip out west to take on the Los Angeles Chargers seeking their first win in the state of California against the Chargers since 1974. They needed a dramatic walk-off win against the Giants last week. An emotional letdown against the winless Chargers was certainly possible.
The Eagles got off to a quick start and a 13-0 lead, but the Chargers kept clawing back and nearly took the lead away. LeGarrette Blount powered his way to his first 100-yard rushing performance as an Eagle and the birds knocked off the Chargers 26-24.
Philadelphia finished the first quarter of the season with a 3-1 record, which is impressive for many reasons including the fact that three of those four games were on the road. That means seven of their remaining 12 games will be at home including next week's game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Here is the latest report card, otherwise known as Grayson's Grades:
LeGarrette Blount - Blount had some backbreaking runs in this game. He put the Eagles on his shoulders and helped lead them to victory. Blount's biggest contribution was a physical 68-yard run in the fourth quarter that took the Eagles inside the five-yard line. Blount also had his number called when the Eagles were trying to run out the clock at the end and moved the chains with a 15-yard run to essentially secure the victory. Blount carried the ball 16 times for 136 yards. He also caught one pass for 20 yards. A solid effort from the running back.
Doug Pederson - Pederson did a good job managing this game. His opening script worked perfectly. He had good balance early on between run and pass plays. I thought he relied too much on pass plays in the middle of the game and ultimately settled on letting the running game take the Eagles across the finish line. When faced with a tough decision to go for it on fourth down or punt late in the first half, I agreed with the decision to punt. No need to give the Chargers a short field late in the half. Pederson also deserves credit for helping his team avoid falling into a trap game. He kept them focused throughout the week following an emotional walk-off win against the Giants. He also helped them prepare to bring their best effort on the long west coast trip against a winless Chargers team that was desperate.
Zach Ertz - Ertz continues to emerge as a go-to receiver for Wentz. He has been extremely consistent working over the middle of the field. Ertz rarely drops a pass and hauled in some big catches at times in this one. His longest reception went for 38 yards in the second half. He also did a solid job blocking in this game. Ertz caught five passes for 81 yards.
Jake Elliott - Elliott very easily might have been one of the players of the game. The Eagles do not win this gem without his leg. Elliott booted four field goals through the uprights and none of them were chip shots. In order he connected from 45 yards, 40 yards, 53 yards and 47 yards. Elliott's 12 points made a big difference that cannot be understated.
Carson Wentz - Wentz got off to a great start. He made a perfect throw on third down to hit Nelson Agholor for a 36-yard gain. Wentz completed all three passes he threw on the opening drive for 48 yards. That drive ended with a nice pass to Alshon Jeffery for a touchdown. Wentz was hampered by a couple of drops from some of his teammates. Ultimately he did enough with his legs to escape some pressure and extend plays that allowed for some positive plays. His completion percentage was on the lower side, partially due to the amount of pressure the Chargers brought in the second half. Wentz completed 17 of 31 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball six times for 14 yards. Among his carries was a key quarterback sneak for a first down.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks missed most of the second half against the Giants last week due to injury. He returned to the starting lineup against the Chargers. His presence helped against the run, especially with Fletcher Cox out due to a sore calf. Hicks played pretty well and led the team with nine tackles. It was a decent effort if not for the few big plays that at times broke the defense throughout the game.
Beau Allen - Allen was given the difficult task of trying to replace Fletcher Cox who was out due to a sore calf. He did a great job filling in for Cox. Allen delivered a big hit on a run for a loss. He also picked up a sack when he kept working and was able to grab Rivers as he tried to escape the pocket. Allen finished with two tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss and a quarterback hit.
Derek Barnett - The rookie and first round pick took advantage of some opportunities against the Chargers. Barnett did a great job to recover a loose ball after Chris Long forced a fumble. He also impressed when he was tasked with covering a receiver some 20 yards downfield. That is not a situation you would expect a defensive end to succeed in, but he hung in there pretty well. Barnett finished with a fumble recovery, two tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Chris Long - Long did a great job to help set the tone early in the game when he chased Philip Rivers down from behind and forced a fumble that the Eagles recovered. Long does not see a ton of snaps but plays a very important role on the defense and in the locker room. He finished with one tackle, a sack and a forced fumble.
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood's stats do not jump out at you and scream great job. However, he did have some big contributions. He was a threat running the ball and receiving. It was exactly what the Eagles needed in their first game without Darren Sproles. Smallwood carried the ball 10 times for 34 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 45 yards.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor has settled into the slot very nicely. He made a huge catch on the opening drive on a third down to move the chains. It was a perfectly thrown pass where only he could catch it and he did for a 36 yard gain. His number was not called much but he made it count when it was. Agholor hauled in three passes for 58 yards.
Offensive Line - The offensive line has been criticized at times this season and rightfully so. However, the line played much better in this game. Steve Wisniewski appeared to win the battle for the left guard spot. He did share some snaps with Chance Warmack but got the start and provided some consistency at the position that has seen its share of struggles. Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson all deserve credit for a job well done also. The Eagles rushed for 214 yards and only saw Wentz get sacked one time.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham struggled at times in this game and missed several tackles that led to big plays for the Chargers. He has played well throughout most of the season, but the missed tackles were his biggest problem as those big plays were the only thing keeping the Chargers in the game. Bradham finished third on the team with four tackles.
Rasul Douglas - Douglas got his first career start last week against the Giants and he played well. His second start did not go quite as well. Douglas got beat on multiple plays due to some really good moves mid-route by Chargers receivers. One of those went for a big touchdown. Douglas is a rookie and as all rookies must do, he has to learn more about the NFL game. There is no better way to learn than on the job. The key will be to see how he recovers and applies what he learned in the future. Douglas finished the game with two tackles. He was also called for a pass interference penalty.