Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Cowboys
The Eagles fell to 0-2 following a 20-10 loss. Just 12 percent of NFL teams that have started 0-2 have gone on to make the playoffs.
This was a bizarre game featuring a little bit of everything. It also featured numerous failing marks for many players on the offensive side of the ball.
(Listen to Grayson's Grades with Scott Grayson on the Sports Bash)
Mychal Kendricks - Kendricks played hard in this game. He was asked to cover running backs in the passing game 40 yards downfield. In fact, it was on one of those plays that he pulled a hamstring that knocked him out of the game. Kendricks was one of three players that led the team in tackles with 7 including 1 tackle for a loss.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins does a lot for this defense. He is asked to play up near the line of scrimmage, blitz, drop in coverage and just about everything else you can think of. He is very versatile, which is what allows him to make a lot of plays. Jenkins was one of three players that led the team in tackles with 7. He recovered a fumble and returned it 34 yards. Jenkins added 2 tackles for a loss.
DeMeco Ryans - Ryans clearly looks like he is still not 100 percent. He appears to be a step slower than we saw last year prior to his injury. Despite that, he had a pair of big plays that kept the Cowboys out of the endzone. On 1st and goal he made a tackle just inside the goal line. Later that series, he broke up a pass that would have been a touchdown. Ryans accounted for 6 tackles and that 1 pass deflection.
Connor Barwin - Barwin is one of the leaders on this defense and helped to set the tone early for the defense when he sacked Tony Romo. He did struggle to contain the edge on some running plays, but overall played well. He finished with 4 tackles including that sack in the first quarter.
Fletcher Cox - Cox continues to do a solid job in the middle of the defensive line. His stat line is never really impressive, but it is the little things that he does that make a big difference. He disrupts a lot of plays in the opposing backfield and was alert enough to recover a fumble. He finished the game with 2 tackles including one for a loss.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks was probably the player who came closest to getting an 'A'. However, I could not dish out an 'A' to anyone after the way this game was played. Hicks came in and played a ton of snaps after Kiko Alonso was injured. He filled in very well and was constantly around the ball. Hicks also forced a fumble on the play that knocked Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo out of the game. He recorded 6 tackles and 1 sack. Not a bad night at all for the rookie.
Billy Davis - Davis' defense forced two turnovers and managed to keep the Eagles in the game until the very end despite facing the Cowboys offense for 40:30 in this game. The defense saw 70 plays from the Cowboys. All of that is tough to withstand and the Eagles held them to one touchdown until the final 4:13 in the game. Those are the positives. One big negative and problem that I have with Davis is that he refuses to give help where it appears it is needed. He was stubborn and failed to help Bradley Fletcher when he was getting picked on last year. Now he is letting teams pick on Byron Maxwell with no safety help. This just in, the Jets will throw his way a bunch too next week. Davis needs to solve that problem or opponents will keep dropping back and firing his way repeatedly.
Sam Bradford - Bradford along with the rest of the offense looked awful. In his defense, he did not always have a lot of time to drop back, go through his reads and make the throw. The interception in the endzone cannot happen. The second interception he threw was not his fault. It should have been caught by Zach Ertz. Bradford was not on the same page with his receivers at times and that needs to be corrected. He finished the game with most of his yards coming when the Cowboys were protecting a 20-3 lead. Bradford completed 23 of 37 passes for 224 yards and 1 touchdown. He also threw 2 interceptions. Bradford was also the leading rusher for the Eagles with 9 yards.
Nelson Agholor - The first-round pick of the Eagles has worked his way into the starting lineup. He did make a big mistake early in the game when he caught a pass over the middle and went out of bounds just before the first down marker. The Eagles failed to move the chains on that possession. Agholor was also part of a miscommunication with Bradford that resulted in a bad incompletion. Agholor caught 3 passes for 31 yards.
DeMarco Murray - Murray's failing grade is not entirely his fault. He frankly has no time and no holes to hit before the opponent is on him. Murray became visibly frustrated on the sidelines during this game and who could blame him. Fortunately he is also a threat as a receiver and did at least have a positive effect in the passing game. Murray carried the ball 13 times for just 2 yards. He also caught 5 passes for 53 yards.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews had a case of the drops again. He dropped a pass at the end of the game against the Falcons that was intercepted. It continued early in this game with a pair of drops. Matthews had a sure first down, but did not come down with the ball. He did pick it up in the fourth quarter and finished with 6 receptions for 80 yards.
Zach Ertz - Ertz is typically a sure-handed receiver, but dropped a pass in this game that was intercepted. Like the rest of the offense, he failed to get into a rhythm. He was targeted 7 times in this game and only caught 3 passes for 17 yards.
Chip Kelly - Kelly definitely gets an 'F' in this game. He must find a way to get a running game going. He acknowledged after the game that his running backs have no holes to run through and that his quarterback has no time to throw the ball. He definitely called out his offensive line. Now he has to fix it. This offense was expected to put on a show this season and to date has yet to do much of anything. Sam Bradford cannot be the leading rusher on the team. That happened against the Cowboys. Kelly was stubborn in sticking with the run on first down throughout most of the first half. Yes, he does need to get a run game going, but it does not have to be on first down when it is clearly not working. Kelly must find a way to right the ship or it will get ugly real quick in Philadelphia.
Offensive Line - If the offensive line was at the game, I didn't see them. At one time or another all of them were getting manhandled at the point of attack. No running back had time to hit a hole because no hole was available. They failed to do a good job of protecting Sam Bradford in the passing game. They also committed a lot of penalties that helped to stall out drives. Jason Kelce had a mental breakdown when he snapped the ball to Bradford before Bradford had even begun the cadence. It resulted in a fumble, which the Cowboys recovered. The offensive struggles are squarely on the shoulders of the line. When the line starts blocking, everything should fall into place.
Byron Maxwell - Maxwell appears to give a little too much cushion on receivers. I have no idea what he was thinking on the Cowboys touchdown late in the game. He was able to break up some passes, but got beat on others. Until he does a better job, teams are going to continue to pick on him regularly. On the bright side, Maxwell did force a fumble in this game. He finished with 4 tackles, 1 pass deflection and 1 forced fumble.