Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Cardinals
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles saw their winning streak end at two games following a 40-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It was an opportunity to see how this team stacked up to one of the best teams in the NFC.
For all the weapons the Cardinals have at receiver, it was third string running back David Johnson who torched the Eagles for more than 180 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eagles also hurt themselves by turning the ball over four times in the game. All four of those turnovers occurred in the second half. What was a close game at halftime turned into a lopsided score by the fourth quarter.
Zach Ertz - Ertz made some difficult catches in this game and was a frequently targeted receiver by Bradford. He threw Ertz' way 13 times in the game. Ertz caught eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown tied the game at 10. He runs great routes and has a knack for finding some open spaces.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews came out red hot to start the game pulling in three receptions on the opening drive for 53 yards. He later added a beautiful 78 yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. It was a solid performance for Matthews who was the leading receiver for the Eagles in both catches and receiving yards. He finished with eight receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown.
Fletcher Cox - Cox once again was a force on the defensive line. He recorded a sack early in the second quarter that appeared to knock Carson Palmer off his game for a little while. Cox was also one of the few Eagles able to tackle some of the Cardinals. He had another solid game recording six tackles with one sack, two tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits.
Mychal Kendricks - Kendricks led the team in tackles with 10. Apparently, he was one of the few players who understood the concept of tackling in this game. He was flying around making tackles along the sideline and up the middle. Kendricks has been playing well lately and he kept that going in this game.
Jaylen Watkins - Watkins came in relief when both Eric Rowe and Byron Maxwell left the game due to injuries. I thought he played pretty well providing some solid coverage on several deep pass attempts by Carson Palmer. He did get called for one pass interference, but all in all Watkins looked pretty good. This was an opportunity he needed to take advantage of. He was released earlier in the season and returned with a chip on his shoulder. Watkins finished with one tackle and three passes defended.
Josh Huff - I have been critical of Huff at times throughout the season. So I felt it necessary to give him a slight pat on the back after this game. He caught all four passes thrown his way for a total of 52 yards. If Huff can do that more consistently, it will greatly help this team. He also averaged nearly 24 yards per kickoff return with his longest being 39 yards.
Chip Kelly - Kelly deserves credit for making the tough decision to leave a highly paid running back in the stable. This offense clearly is running better and more efficiently behind Ryan Mathews than it did behind DeMarco Murray. Murray barely saw the field, let alone the ball in this game. However, if there is one thing Murray has done a lot this year it is run the ball for one yard. When the Eagles faced a fourth and one at the eight yard line, it appeared like Murray was the guy who should get the call. Instead, Kelly kept Mathews in the game and he was stopped for no gain. Kelly has coached a team that has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. It appears they can hang with anybody and they can also lose to anybody. Kelly has a chance to get this team into the postseason with as few as eight wins, but they must win Saturday night against the Washington Redskins.
Sam Bradford - I thought Bradford had a great first half and a pretty good game overall. The pick six allowed the Cardinals to put it well out of reach. Bradford has been making better decisions lately and made some impressive throws during the game. An interception that turns directly into six points for the opposition is unacceptable. The second interception he threw was forced into tight coverage when the Cardinals knew the Eagles needed to pass the ball to try and score quickly. That being said, I continue to see Bradford trending in the right direction and see him poised to potentially have a big game against the Redskins on Saturday. Bradford completed nine of his first 11 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown through the Eagles' first three possessions. He finished the game completing 28 of 41 passes for 361 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ryan Mathews - Mathews started at running back for the second consecutive week. He also received the most carries for the second consecutive week. He showed signs of hitting the holes better and broke off a 20 yard run at one point. However, he coughed up a costly fumble that led to a Cardinals touchdown. That cannot happen in big games. Mathews finished with 11 carries for 58 yards. He also caught one pass for 3 yards.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins finished second on the team in tackles with seven. However, he did miss some in the game. He was one of at least six Eagles that failed to tackle David Johnson on a 47 yard touchdown run in the first half. Jenkins did a good job trying to lead some of the inexperienced corners that had to enter the game due to injuries to Eric Rowe and Byron Maxwell.
Byron Maxwell - Maxwell tweaked an ankle this week in practice and had a hard time staying on the field. Ultimately he left and was unable to return to the game. Maxwell was giving up some big cushions on these speedy Arizona Cardinals receivers when he was in there. He also went on a 15 yard piggy back ride courtesy of Cardinals tight end Darren Fells. Maxwell finished with six tackles and one pass defended.
Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, DeMeco Ryans - These five players are just a small sample of the group of players who failed to make some tackles and particularly stop Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson. They are usually solid at stopping the run, but not on this night. Barwin did register half a sack and one quarterback hit in the game along with three tackles. Graham finished with one tackle. Thornton had two tackles. Ryans recorded three tackles.