Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD – The Philadelphia Eagles needed a win over the New York Giants to keep their division title hopes alive. They got off to a poor start with Carson Wentz throwing two interceptions on the Eagles’ first five offensive plays. The Giants converted both of those turnovers into touchdowns.
The Eagles settled down after that and tried to fight their way back. They had the ball on the Giants’ 17-yard line trailing 28-23 with less than two minutes to go, but were unable to find the endzone and suffer yet another loss.
The Eagles fall to 4-4 overall and 0-3 within the NFC East. It puts them in a big hole as the second half of the season begins next week. There were poor performances and questionable decisions featured prominently in the latest edition of Grayson’s Grades.
Zach Ertz – Ertz has been overlooked in this offense throughout much of the season to date. That changed in this game as he was the most targeted receiver for Wentz. Ertz made some difficult catches but hauled in everything thrown his way. He caught eight passes for 97 yards. Many have wondered why he has not been more of a frequent target. Perhaps this is the beginning of what could be a lot more production for Ertz. He told me after the game that the key to building a good relationship with the quarterback is to produce in games. Ertz certainly did that.
Jordan Hicks – Hicks has been playing better the past few weeks and continued that performance in this game. Hicks made no bigger play than the diving interception with less than two minutes to go in the game giving the Eagles the ball on the Giants 34-yard line with a chance to win the game. It was an incredibly athletic play to haul it in after Connor Barwin tipped it. It was a pretty solid game for Hicks who finished with seven tackles, an interception and two passes successfully defended.
Bryce Treggs – Treggs looked the part of something the Eagles desperately needed, a downfield threat. He got behind the defense a couple of times. Wentz was able to connect with him for a 58 yard gain. Later, Treggs appeared to beat his man, but the ball was under thrown and fell incomplete. Look for Wentz and Treggs to get more on the same page as he continues to work with him in practice. Treggs admitted the two did not work together much until he was elevated to the active roster earlier this week. Treggs finished with two receptions for 68 yards.
Jordan Matthews – Matthews is clearly one of Carson Wentz’ favorite targets. He is also the guy Wentz looks to in crunch time. Matthews went through most of the first half with barely a target. He finished the game with ten targets and caught six passes for 88 yards. Matthews was the guy Wentz looked to with the game on the line facing fourth down from the Giants’ 17-yard-line. It was thrown just a little wide of him and fell incomplete. Matthews has done a nice job of cutting down on his drops. Now he must find a way to help Wentz make plays to win the game.
Connor Barwin – Barwin usually does a great job of getting his hands up when he cannot reach the quarterback and tipping passes. He did that again in this game. Barwin tipped Manning’s pass with less than two minutes to go that resulted in an interception and an opportunity for the Eagles to win the game. Barwin finished with two tackles and two pass deflections.
Nolan Carroll – Carroll came up with one of the big plays by the defense that kept the Eagles in the game. He ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham right after he was attempting to complete the catch on a slant. Carroll gave the Eagles the ball in the fourth quarter down by eight around midfield. He finished the game with three tackles and did a pretty good job defending his side of the field.
Jaylen Watkins – Watkins is getting on the field more and taking advantage of some of those opportunities. He finished second on the team in tackles, which is not exactly a good thing for a defensive back. Watkins comes on the field when Malcolm Jenkins goes into the slot. Watkins finished with nine tackles and one pass successfully defended. He does have to be careful in coverage. Watkins collided with McKelvin on the Giants first touchdown of the game resulting in the easy reception.
Nigel Bradham – Bradham certainly has a nose for the ball. He is frequently around the play and as a result, led the team in tackles. Bradham did make a bonehead play at one point when he retaliated a bit of a shove by one of the Giants and was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct. He must do a better job of controlling his emotions. Bradham finished with 10 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one pass successfully defended.
Darren Sproles – Sproles has taken the role of featured back and is a positive factor for the offense. However, there are certain situations I think Sproles should have a smaller role. Pederson went to him on fourth-and-one and chose to run him off tackle where Sproles was stopped for no gain and the Eagles turned it over on downs. Sproles is a weapon and showed that on special teams when he returned a punt 76 yards into the red zone. As a 12-year veteran in this league and such a huge weapon on special teams, I worry that Pederson is going to him a little too much and that he could wear down later in the season. Sproles carried the ball 13 times for 57 yards. He also caught three passes for 14 yards.
Brandon Graham – Graham did not show up too much in the stats, but certainly was a positive factor for the Eagles. Graham did get some pressure on Eli Manning and hit him enough that Destiny Vaeao was able to finish him off and earn a sack. Graham also did a great job of blowing up a first down play for a five-yard loss following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Bradham.
Ryan Mathews – Mathews has been nearly phased out of the offense. Do not let Doug Pederson fool you when he says Mathews is their top back. He repeatedly gets fewer and fewer carries. Mathews did have his number called inside the red zone and made a great cut to bust it outside and find the endzone from eight yards out in the second quarter. I know Mathews committed the mortal sin of fumbling when they were running out the clock at Detroit earlier in the season. However, I still think he should get the ball more in the redzone and fourth down and short situations. He carried the ball just five times for 15 yards. Mathews also caught one pass for no gain.
Carson Wentz – Wentz got out to an awful start in this game. He threw two interceptions in the first five offensive plays. Wentz did settle down and started throwing some impressive passes, but he remained somewhat inconsistent. Among the pretty passes he threw, Wentz connected with Bryce Treggs for 58 yards putting the Eagles in the red zone. That drive ended with a touchdown run by Ryan Mathews. On their final possession of the game, Wentz threw a beautiful pass just over an outstretched defender to Jordan Matthews for a big first down. However, he did throw some passes that were ugly and well off the mark. The two interceptions sailed on him and were the primary reason for going to the other team. On fourth down with the game on the line, he overthrew Matthews and never gave his receiver a chance to catch the ball. Wentz did a great job of limiting turnovers in the first three wins of the season. He must get back to that for this team to get back on track in the second half of the season.
Malcolm Jenkins – Jenkins is typically a big part of this defense; however, the Giants did a pretty good job of staying away from him. Jenkins was not much of a factor in the running game. He also did not get to do much in the passing game. Jenkins was beat for a 32-yard touchdown by Sterling Shepard. He finished with three tackles.
Nelson Agholor – Agholor continues to be a disappointment. He had another drop in this game. It was a difficult pass to catch, but as an NFL receiver he needs to find a way to haul it in. Agholor also nearly cost the Eagles a chance to win the game when he fumbled the ball on their final possession. He was able to recover it, but must take better care of the ball in those crucial situations. Agholor has shown the ability to make some nice catches and even tack on some solid yards after the catch, but his inconsistency gets in the way of his ability to become more of a prominent receiver in this league. Agholor was targeted seven times. He caught four passes for 41 yards.
Leodis McKelvin – This was easily McKelvin’s worst game of the season. Two plays after a Wentz interception early in the game, McKelvin was playing way off Odell Beckham, Jr. and he ran a quick slant for a touchdown. Later in the game, he got beat by Victor Cruz for a 47-yard gain into the red zone. McKelvin got beat again by Beckham on a fade route for another touchdown. McKelvin was benched for a drive at the end of the first half. He came back in and played the entire second half. McKelvin finished with just one tackle in the game.
Doug Pederson – Pederson said after the loss to Dallas that he needs to continue to be aggressive. He made two aggressive decisions to go for it on fourth down in the first half. One I agreed with, but hated the play call. The other was a poor decision to go for it instead of kicking a field goal. The first attempt was on fourth and two from the Giants’ 23 yard line. It would have been a 40 yard attempt with the Eagles down 14-3. Pederson should have taken the three points there. Instead he ran a Quarterback sweep that was snuffed out and dropped for a four-yard loss. The second was a fourth and one at the Giants’ six-yard line. I agree with the decision to go for it, but disagreed with using Darren Sproles off tackle. That was a perfect spot to use either Ryan Mathews or Kenjon Barner. Sproles was stopped for no gain. Pederson defended his decisions to go for it after the game, but here is to the hope that he learns to take points when they are there. Peterson’s team is in a big hole and somehow he must find a way to help dig them out of it. On the positive side, Wentz and the offense seems to respond pretty well when Pederson decides to go up-tempo. I am certainly not saying they need to go that way all the time like they did under Chip Kelly, but picking some spots and trying to get into a rhythm appears to be something Wentz likes.
Dorial Green-Beckham – I was extremely disappointed in DGB. He looked slow off the line of scrimmage and struggled to get any kind of separation. DGB looked lazy running his routes and made some poor attempts at catching the football. I have been a big proponent for him to get more involved in the offense, especially in the red zone. However, DGB has to give a better effort in order to have more of an impact on the game. He was targeted five times in this game and failed to register a catch. I think that says enough.