Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Philadelphia Eagles were among a group of teams at 0-2 that could ill afford to fall to 0-3 entering Sunday's game at the New York Jets.
The Eagles played like a cornered animal and came out fighting. They roared out to a 24-7 lead at the half. Eventually the birds put their first win on the board with a 24-17 victory.
Grades improved from last week; however, there are still some low marks for several players on the team.
(Listen to Scott Grayson explain his Grayson's Grades vs Jets)
Darren Sproles - Sproles is like the energizer bunny. He keeps going and going and going. Sproles found the endzone two different ways in this game. He returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown and later rushed it in from one yard out. Sproles and Mathews appeared to feed off each other in the ground game. Sproles did drop a pass on a wheel route that looked as if it would have been a long touchdown. That is uncharacteristic for him. Sproles finished with 11 carries for 17 yards. He also added 4 receptions for 19 yards.
Eric Rowe - The rookie has not seen much playing time so far this season, but got a chance when Chris Maragos left the game due to injury and took advantage of it. Rowe broke up a deep ball. Moments later he made a great interception in the endzone when the Jets took another shot downfield. Those kind of plays may earn him more playing time as the season continues. Rowe racked up 1 tackle, 1 interception and 2 pass deflections mostly in the second half.
Brandon Bair - Bair played a great game filling in for the injured Cedric Thornton. He was a constant nuisance for the Jets. Bair batted multiple passes down including one that was intercepted by Jordan Hicks. Bair was more of a factor than his stats indicated. He frequently put his hands up while rushing the passer causing Fitzpatrick to look elsewhere to throw the ball. I liked what Bair brought to this game for the Eagles. He finished with 4 tackles and 3 pass deflections.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks made his first career start in place of Mychal Kendricks. He looked really good and continues to improve week-to-week. Hicks appears to be more and more comfortable on the field. He found himself in the middle of multiple turnovers. Hicks intercepted a pass that was tipped by Brandon Bair. He also recovered a fumble in this game. Hicks led the team with 10 tackles.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins was all over the field again. He plays on the line and also drops back in coverage. He was constantly around the ball and forced a pair of fumbles in this game. Jenkins was credited with 6 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 2 special teams tackles.
Connor Barwin - Barwin is almost always harassing the quarterback at some point in the game. He got to Fitzpatrick and sacked him once. Barwin also got credit for 4 quarterback hits. On top of that, Barwin racked up 4 tackles. I approached him at his locker with bags of ice strapped to both knees and he said "I hate playing on turf. It takes a toll on the body." I am sure it does. Fortunately for him the Eagles will play on grass until they visit Dallas on November 8.
Ryan Mathews - Mathews provided a nice spark in the backfield filling in for the injured DeMarco Murray. He did have a fumble when the Eagles were milking the clock with the running game. That allowed the Jets to keep their hopes alive. Mathews carried the ball 25 times for 108 yards. He also caught 2 passes for 20 yards including one for a 23 yard touchdown. Mathews might have had another score if he did not drop a wide open pass on a wheel route with nobody in front of him. He dropped two passes in the game.
Billy Davis - Davis deserves a lot of credit for the job his defense did against the Jets. He had his players in position to make plays and they did. The defense harassed Jets Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throughout the game and forced a total of four turnovers. He mixed blitzes well. Davis also had his run defense working very well. The Eagles held the Jets to just 47 rush yards.
Nolan Carroll - Carroll is looking really good so far this season. He has rarely been beat for a big play. His coverage was solid in this game and he broke up two passes. It is hard to believe that he had such a hard time getting on the field last year in place of Bradley Fletcher or Cary Williams with the way he has started this season. Carroll needs to keep it up as the season continues. He was credited with 4 tackles to go along with that pair of pass deflections.
Walter Thurmond - Thurmond does not seem to get many opportunities in the game, but when he gets the chance to make a big impact he seems to deliver. Thurmond made a spectacular interception off a deflection and managed to get both feet in along the sideline. Thurmond made 4 tackles including a tackle for a loss.
Sam Bradford - Bradford still does not look very sharp. He has not been consistently accurate with his passes. Numerous times in this game he delivered the ball low or short of his receivers. There were several drops as well, which is not Bradford's fault. He has to begin to routinely hit his receivers in stride. He also must get more comfortable in the pocket. Bradford managed the game well by not turning it over; however, if he wants to be one of the elite quarterbacks in the league he must improve his completion percentage and drive the team down the field more frequently. Bradford completed 14 of 28 passes for 118 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews was not as much of a factor in this game as I think he could have been. Part of that was due to the situation. Chip Kelly appeared to let the clock be his friend and rush the ball a majority of the second half to keep the clock running. Matthews did not get many looks from Bradford. That is not his fault, but it does keep him from scoring a great grade. Matthews was targeted 8 times and caught 6 passes for 49 yards.
Chip Kelly - Kelly said he would fix the problem on offense and to his credit the team took a step forward. It did not look totally fixed, but at least proved to be a work in progress. The offensive line was the biggest problem after last week. They blocked better but still allowed too many negative rushing plays. I also give Kelly credit for allowing the clock to be his friend in the second half. Kelly acknowledged they must do a better job of finishing out the game on offense. The birds converted just 4 of 15 third downs. The Eagles nursed a 24-7 lead and bled the clock to a point where the Jets could get it close but not ultimately get over the hump. It got a little closer than I am sure he wanted, but I don't feel he has total confidence in his offense at this point to trust it to win the game going away.
Offensive Line - The offensive line played better than last week although that really was not very hard to do. The line did at least open holes big enough for Mathews and Sproles to fit into. There were still way too many runs for a loss. Bradford had a little more time to throw than he did last week.
Byron Maxwell - Maxwell definitely played his best game of the season, but that is not saying much after the way he performed in the first two games. Maxwell had better coverage and did a good job of breaking up some passes. I did see one play in the game where he eased up and looked less than interested in making a tackle short of the first down marker. I also saw a couple of completions his way that I expected tighter coverage with. He made a step in the right direction, so I will take that as a positive sign.
Zach Ertz - Where is Zach Ertz? He has not been nearly the weapon that many expected him to be this season. Ertz caught just 2 passes for 30 yards and he took a huge hit on one of those receptions.
Nelson Agholor - Paging Nelson Agholor. By week three you expect a number one pick at his position to be making more of an impact than he has so far. In Agholor's defense, he did have to deal with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie for much of the day. Agholor does not look very comfortable on the field. It is not entirely his fault. Bradford made some bad passes his way, but at least one of them should have been caught. Agholor was targeted 4 times but failed to catch a pass. That must improve as the season continues.