Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Broncos
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles are 8-1 for just the fifth time in franchise history after destroying the Denver Broncos 51-23. The other four times the Eagles began the season 8-1 they went on to play in either the Super Bowl or NFL Championship Game.
Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes in the first half and this one was over not long after it started. The Eagles acquired a new toy at the trade deadline and that toy performed. Running Back Jay Ajayi rattled off a 46-yard touchdown in his Eagles debut.
Philadelphia will enjoy its bye next week before returning to action with a trip to Dallas on November 19.
Here is yet another solid report card in the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Carson Wentz - There was very little to criticize Carson Wentz for in this game. Maybe just a few incomplete passes and ask the question, why didn't he complete them all? All joking aside, he looked great. Wentz was comfortable in the pocket. He led his receivers well and threw the ball right on the money for touchdowns. They were all different kinds of throws too which makes them even more impressive. He floated a pass down the sideline over the defender and into the arms of Alshon Jeffery for a 32-yard touchdown. Wentz later hit Corey Clement in traffic on a screen pass that went for a touchdown. He also threw a pretty pass to the front corner of the endzone where Trey Burton made a great catch for the score. Wentz has now thrown 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions this year. It is the most touchdown passes by an Eagles player in the first nine games of any season.
Doug Pederson - Pederson received quite a bit of criticism heading into the season and that is now nothing but a distant memory. In fact, many of the players I spoke to after this win were quick to give Pederson a lot of credit for their success this season. I am told he listens to input from the players and that means more to them than he probably knows. Pederson has helped to keep this team focused week-to-week and avoid distractions that come from thinking too far ahead into the future. Some pundits considered the game against the 49'ers a trap game. While the team started slow, they eventually put the niners away. Other pundits considered this game with the Broncos a trap game right before the bye. Instead of thinking ahead to the bye, this team took care of business pretty quickly and cruised to a blowout victory. Pederson utilized his tight ends against a defense that has struggled to defend that position. He also did not hesitate to commit to running the ball against a team that has done pretty well stopping the run. Pederson has also allowed his second-year quarterback Carson Wentz to grow. He slowly puts more and more on his plate and the young quarterback answers. While I too have criticized Pederson in the past for some in-game decisions, it is time to give the man his due credit.
Jay Ajayi - Ajayi had just three practices with the Eagles after coming to Philadelphia from Miami as part of a trade deadline deal earlier in the week. He made a great first impression with Eagles fans. Ajayi broke through a hole and down the sideline. He eventually dove over a tackle as he got near the pylon and was able to score from 46 yards out. Ajayi finished with eight carries for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Offensive Line - The offensive line did a really good job in this game. They definitely earned my respect as this appeared to be the first real test for the line with Haalapoulivaati Vaitai starting in place of Jason Peters who is out for the rest of the season. The offensive line was able to give Carson Wentz time to throw and room to step up into the pocket. They also opened up some nice holes for running backs. The biggest hole was opened on the Ajayi touchdown run by Vaitai and Brandon Brooks. Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski and Lane Johnson also did a solid job. The offensive line blocked well enough to rack up 197 rushing yards.
Trey Burton - Burton saw a lot more playing time than usual due to a hamstring injury to Zach Ertz. Burton took advantage of those extra opportunities. His most impressive contribution was a catch in the front corner of the endzone where he had to go to his knee and maintain control of the ball while staying inbounds for a 27-yard touchdown. Burton finished with two receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Corey Clement - All eyes were focused in the backfield on LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. Credit Corey Clement for yelling, 'don't forget about me!' Clement ran an inside screen to perfection and weaved around blocks for a 15-yard touchdown. He later received a pitch on an option from Carson Wentz and took it two-yards into the corner of the endzone for his second touchdown of the game. Clement got 12 carries for 51 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 15 yards and another touchdown.
Rodney McLeod - McLeod did a nice job reading an errant pass by Brock Osweiler that hung in the air and picked it off. That was not good enough for McLeod who weaved his way through some traffic and around some blocks by his teammates for a 50-yard return deep into Broncos' territory. It resulted in an Eagles touchdown just a few plays later.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery got involved early in this game and was clearly a big part of the game plan. He got behind a defender that bit on a play fake and brought in a floated pass by Wentz down the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown. Jeffery later caught another touchdown pass running along the back of the endzone. He had a couple of drops in this game but was able to shake them off and get right back to catching the ball again. Jeffery caught six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
Patrick Robinson - Robinson has been consistently good all season for the Eagles. He continued that in this game. Robinson did a great job to undercut a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas and picked it off. He tacked on a 17-yard return to give the Eagles the ball inside the red zone. Robinson finished with a pair of tackles, an interception and two passes successfully defended.
Fletcher Cox - Cox was a beast in this game. He frequently affected plays even if he did not make the play. Cox was constantly getting into the backfield and either hitting Brock Osweiler or forcing him to evacuate the pocket. Cox racked up two tackles, a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hits.
Brandon Graham - Graham nearly took a handoff himself early in this game. He blew up the exchange for a loss and in the process knocked Broncos Running Back CJ Anderson out of the game for a few plays. Graham led the team with five tackles including a tackle for a loss.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham has put together a solid and consistent season. He recognizes where the ball is going and gets there quickly to make the play. He racked up a sack in this game. Bradham also finished tied for second on the team with four tackles. He also added a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit.
Nick Foles - I had to give out at least one grade other than an 'A' and Foles was the first guy that came to mind to earn it. He did throw a nice deep ball down the sideline that Nelson Agholor hauled in during the fourth quarter. However, on his first possession since entering the game for Wentz due to the big lead he held onto the ball too long and fumbled it away for a scoop and score by the Broncos defense. Foles completed the only pass he threw for 35 yards.