Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Browns
PHILADELPHIA - A new era began Sunday afternoon with a nearly flawless performance by rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. New Head Coach Doug Pederson also saw his debut end very well as the Philadelphia Eagles won their season opener 29-10 over the Cleveland Browns.
The offense ran smoothly under Wentz and the defense did its job in also putting points on the board with a safety. Overall, week one went about as well as the Eagles could have hoped.
The end result was solid, but there is definitely room for improvement for several players. Without further ado, here are Grayson's Grades
Doug Pederson - Pederson did a great job in his first career game as a head coach. I liked the way he called the offensive plays. He mixed in the run and pass along with play-action very well. Pederson made a gutsy call when it was 15-10 Eagles on fourth and four to go for it. Wentz completed a pass to move the chains and followed it up with a deep ball for a touchdown to Nelson Agholor. The Eagles racked up 403 yards of total offense and controlled the clock when they pulled away to secure the victory.
Carson Wentz - I was extremely impressed with Wentz and not just by his play on the field. Wentz looks the part of a franchise quarterback. I know, let's pump the brakes before we get too out of control. But, he does the little things well. He does not look like a deer in the headlights. He stares down the blitz and completes passes. He takes hits and gets back up. Wentz also almost always looks cool, calm and collected. Are there things he can improve, sure. However, his arm was strong when he threw the ball downfield. He was accurate inside the red zone. If you had to write a script for week one, this is exactly what he and this team needed. They can buy into what Wentz can be after seeing him play the way he did against the Browns. Wentz was a victim of a couple of dropped passes by his receivers otherwise his stats would have been even better. He finished 22-for-37 with 287 pass yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Ryan Mathews - Mathews seems like the perfect guy to carry the ball most of the time in this offense. He does a nice job of hitting the holes and when needed, shows patience in waiting for the hole to open. He tends to make the pile fall forward and should average between four and five yards per carry this season. Mathews carried the ball 22 times for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor has been fairly heavily criticized as a former first-round pick that did not do much last year. He dropped several passes this preseason. However, Agholor came out of the gates well in week one. He did not drop any passes and made a great catch when he beat Joe Haden on a 35 yard touchdown reception. Agholor credited better moves at the line of scrimmage to allow him to make that play. He caught four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Ertz - Ertz is a very reliable receiver and was exactly that for Wentz in his debut. Ertz made a spectacular one-handed grab to move the chains on the opening scoring drive. He caught six passes for 58 yards.
Donnie Jones - You cannot underestimate the importance of what Donnie Jones did in this game. He continuously pinned the Browns deep in their own end. Jones punted the ball six times for an average of 49 yards. He pinned three of them inside the 20 with the other three going as touchbacks. At one point, Jones boomed a 72-yard punt that reached the endzone. That forced the Browns to have a lot of ground to cover before they could eventually try to put points on the board.
Rodney McLeod - McLeod racked up his first interception as a member of the Eagles. It was off a tipped pass and he managed to hustle and get under it before it hit the ground. McLeod also came up and made some tackles. He registered four tackles including a tackle for a loss, a pass defense and the interception.
Fletcher Cox - Cox is worth every penny they are paying him. He sucks up double-teams routinely and still finds ways to make plays. Cox did get a sack in this game. Cox also got to Griffin and hit him twice even though he got rid of the ball. He finished with four tackles including a tackle for a loss to go along with the sack.
Brandon Graham - Graham had himself a series in the fourth quarter. He stripped the ball from Griffin and got a sack near the Browns endzone. He nearly followed that with another sack in the endzone, which would have been a safety. All total, Graham finished with three tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Pretty solid day there.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews dropped a pass early on that hit him right in the hands. He recovered to catch the first touchdown of Wentz' career in the corner of the endzone. Matthews looked to be one of Wentz' favorite targets. He had plenty of opportunities to make plays and finished with more than 100 yards receiving. The funny thing with Matthews is that the more difficult the catch, the easier he makes it look. On one of his drops, he was wide open but took his eye off the ball to find the nearest defender. Matthews was targeted 14 times and caught seven passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Connor Barwin - Barwin struggled at times to get back to the quarterback, but finally broke free in the second half and threw Griffin for a ten yard sack close to his own endzone. Barwin enjoys the rotation Jim Schwartz is using with his defensive line. Darwin says it helps him remain fresher later in the game, which could have played a role in that fourth quarter sack. Barwin finished with two tackles including the sack and a quarterback hit.
Vinny Curry - Curry failed to register a tackle in this game, but that does not mean his presence was not felt. In fact, Curry bulrushed his man flat into the ground directly leading to the sack Fletcher Cox got in the game. Curry should get his opportunities to show up in the stats, but as long as he disrupts plays nobody will be complaining. I wanted to make sure he got singled out for creating havoc even though he did not get credit for some of the tackles.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks had a pretty good game. He was active on the field and tipped a pass that was eventually picked off by Rodney McLeod. Hicks was a huge part of success on defense a year ago before his injury. It was good to see him flying around and making plays again. He finished with four tackles and a pass deflection.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham looked pretty good in his first game with the Eagles. He led the team with five tackles and helped keep the Browns running game in check until late when the game was out of reach.
Nolan Carroll - Carroll earned a starting cornerback position after a strong preseason. For the most part, he played pretty well. However, he gave up a costly deep ball on a pass that should have never been completed. Griffin put a ton of air under a pass that Carroll overran and the receiver stopped when it was under thrown for a 58 yard completion. Griffin passed for 190 yards with 102 of those yards coming on two deep balls. Carroll needs to at least make that one against him incomplete or pick it off.
Caleb Sturgis - Sturgis won the kicking battle in the preseason against Cody Parkey. He was solid on kickoffs booting six touchbacks on six kickoffs. However, I have very little tolerance for missed field goals inside 40 yards. Sturgis missed a 38-yard attempt late in the first quarter. He did make two other field goals, but that miss must be booted through the uprights. It did not cost the Eagles in this game, but that might not be the case in some future contests.