Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Dolphins
PHILADELPHIA - Starters tend to play more in the third preseason game than they do in any other game prior to the start of the season. Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson allowed his starters to play one quarter against the Miami Dolphins. Could they or should they have played longer? See below.
However, the Eagles will escape the preseason without any major injuries to any of their starters and that can be difficult to do in the NFL.
There were ample opportunities for depth players to show what they could do and many of them contributed to a 38-31 victory.
Here is the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery found the endzone for the first time as an Eagle. He ran a great slant route to get free and slide into an opening for Carson Wentz to hit him in stride and lead him into the endzone from 15 yards out. He also made a great diving catch over the middle for a 20-yard gain. Jeffery finished with two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Ertz - Ertz looked great in this game. He made multiple diving catches to secure the ball and move the chains. He made one of those diving grabs for a gain of 18 yards on the Eagles' second possession. Ertz tacked on a 14-yard gain in the flat after Wentz tripped and found him. Ertz caught three passes for 44 yards.
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood faced a lot of pressure in this game in my opinion. He has failed to be healthy enough to play in either of the first two games of the preseason. Meanwhile, Corey Clement has done a nice job with some opportunities that would have otherwise gone to Smallwood. Smallwood did not put up huge numbers, but ran the ball very well with the lanes and chances he had. His first carry went for eight yards. He followed that up with a solid six-yard run off tackle on his second carry of the game. Smallwood finished with 28 yards on four carries. Again, not impressive numbers, but good hard runs that led to positive results.
Mychal Kendricks - Kendricks made some noise early in training camp when he claimed that he told the Eagles he wanted to be traded so he could be a starter somewhere else. The Eagles failed to pull the trigger on any trade involving Kendricks and wanted instead to keep him for depth. Kendricks has had a great preseason and picked off a tipped pass and took it to the house for a pick-six. He has three interceptions in three preseason games. Kendricks also displayed a nice bull rush off the outside to get to Jay Cutler and nearly force a fumble.
Torrey Smith - Smith scored his first touchdown as an Eagle when he blew past busted coverage and was wide-open to haul in a 50-yard touchdown strike. Smith was brought in for his speed and it showed to break free and catch a Carson Wentz pass in-stride for a touchdown. Smith finished with that one catch for 50-yards.
Vinny Curry - Curry took advantage of some extra reps with Brandon Graham out and did a great job to strip Jay Cutler on the the first possession of the game. It was recovered by Fletcher Cox. Curry showed some of the explosion off the line that the Eagles have expected to see more frequently. He must be more consistent this season.
Fletcher Cox - Cox always does a great job having to fight through double-teams and all kinds of difficult blocking schemes. Still, he finds ways to make plays. Cox made a huge play in this game to recover a fumble forced by Vinny Curry. He nearly recovered another fumble later in the game; however, it was ruled a forward pass.
Jaylen Watkins - Watkins has moved to corner from safety and has looked a little more comfortable in that spot. He did a nice job to sit on a route in the endzone and intercept a pass. Watkins tacked on a solid 50-yard return after the interception setting up the Eagles near midfield.
Don Cherry - You have to give Don Cherry a lot of credit. When he gets opportunities, he takes advantage of them. Cherry waited for his chance until the fourth quarter and nearly turned an interception into a pick-six. He did a great job reading the quarterback's eyes and dropping into a zone.
Doug Pederson - I did not agree with Pederson's decision to pull Carson Wentz and Jason Peters after just one quarter in this game. This week both players should have gone until halftime. I get the desire to keep them from getting injured; however, both players need to be ready to go come week one and I do not think that is clear yet. They will likely not play at all next week. In Peters case, I think this line needs to continue to develop chemistry with a couple of new starters. I think Wentz needed to face more live bullets in a game than the controlled environment he gets in practice. All of that being said, all of his starters will be healthy for week one, which can be a difficult thing for some teams to achieve through the preseason.
Jim Schwartz - Like Pederson's decision to pull some offensive starters after one quarter, I felt the same way about taking the starting defense off the field. The defense clearly needed more tackling work after failing to do so very well at all against Jay Ajayi. As I mentioned with Pederson's grade, all of his starters will be healthy for the season opener. Many teams face at least one injury that lingers into the opener.
LeGarrette Blount - Blount did not rack up a ton of yards in his opportunities, but I liked the way he ran the football. He had a great run late in the first quarter using a stiff-arm to tack on more yards and move the chains. Blount was a physical ball-carrier in this game and that is when he is at his best. He tends to do better as a game goes on and remains fresh while the opponent wears down. Blount carried the ball four times for 19 yards.
Carson Wentz - Wentz did not look quite as sharp in the pocket as he has in other games. On one play he had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by the Dolphins. On a different play, he looked to have a hole to run through and turn a potential negative play into some positive yards and instead fired it incomplete to avoid a sack after holding onto it longer. On the plus side, Wentz noticed busted coverage and found a wide-open Torrey Smith for a 50-yard touchdown strike on the Eagles' first possession of the game. He showed great poise to regain his balance after tripping on his drop back and hit Zach Ertz in the flat for a 14-yard gain. Most quarterbacks would have panicked and thrown it away to avoid losing yardage on the play. One of his better throws involved hitting Alshon Jeffery in-stride inside the red zone on a slant to score a touchdown tying the game at 14. Wentz completed six of ten passes for 129 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Corey Clement - Clement has had a very solid preseason. He added to that in this game. Clement reads the defense pretty well and makes nice cuts. Clement did a nice job taking it into the endzone from three yards out off a nice cut up the middle. He has great patience and speed once he makes up his mind to hit the hole. Clement carried the ball nine times for 42 yards and one touchdown. He also added two receptions for 11 yards.
Matt McGloin - McGloin got off to a bit of a rocky start when he telegraphed a pass in the flat that was picked off deep in Eagles territory early in the second quarter. He settled down after that and looked more comfortable within the confines of the offense. McGloin did a great job on third down inside the red zone to throw a pass where only Marcus Johnson could catch it and he did for a touchdown. McGloin spread the ball around very well and went on to complete 22 of 26 passes for 155 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Jalen Mills - Mills made his mark in this game when he did a great job breaking up a pass and tipping it into the air. It was picked off by Kendricks for a pick-six.
Rasul Douglas - Douglas is playing like a rookie in the sense that he lacks consistency at the position. He made a nice break on a pass to stop it for a very short gain. However, later he got beat on a slant route and failed to make the tackle after the catch leading to a 69-yard touchdown by the Dolphins to tie it at 31. Douglas will benefit by having some time to watch Ronald Darby and learn from him. Until then, he must get more consistent and make less mistakes.
Mack Hollins - Hollins has been impressive from the sense that he has looked very comfortable on the field. He runs crisp routes and especially does a nice job of getting his eyes upfield after the catch to add yardage to the play. Hollins caught five passes for 44 yards.
Ronald Darby - Darby did not look as bad as his grade reflects. But, the gravity of his mistakes led to the mark. Darby got stiff-armed by Jay Ajayi on a big gain. He also got beat on a jump ball late in the first quarter that went 72-yards and set up a Dolphins touchdown on the next play. Darby later committed a pass interference penalty on a deep ball that led to another Miami touchdown. He did a great job of coming up and batting away a 3rd down pass to force a punt on the dolphins second possession of the game. All in all, I believe he is going to prove to be a huge acquisition for the Eagles as this season progresses.
Terrence Brooks - Brooks had the chance to make a stop on a slant route, but at the point of contact failed to wrap up the receiver. That receiver broke free and scored on a 69-yard touchdown strike. Those plays have to be made when one play here or there makes the difference in a regular season game.