Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Giants
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles grabbed an early lead and never relinquished it to prevent the New York Giants from clinching a playoff spot. The Eagles picked Eli Manning off three times in a 24-19 victory.
This win ended a five-game losing streak and provided the Eagles with their first win against an NFC East opponent this season.
The offense struggled against a tough Giants defense, but the Eagles defense played very well in the victory.
Here is the latest report card otherwise known as Grayson's Grades:
Lane Johnson - Johnson returned to the lineup for the first time in ten weeks following a suspension for using performance enhancing drugs and his made his presence felt early on. Johnson opened some sizable holes on the Eagles' opening drive. The first offensive play for the Eagles was a 17-yard gain by Ryan Mathews off the right side. That drive ended with Darren Sproles running through a huge hole on the right side for a 25-yard touchdown. Overall Johnson looked good and the team appeared to feed off his return.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham is finishing the season strong. He has played a couple of pretty physical games in the past couple of weeks. Bradham led the team in tackles by a lot. He finished with 12 tackles and did a nice job coming up in run support.
Fletcher Cox - Cox had a decent game in his first appearance since earning another pro bowl invitation. He helped plug up the middle and create pressure on Eli Manning forcing him to make some poor throws. Cox recorded three tackles as well as a quarterback hit. He also managed to create several hurries.
Brandon Graham - Graham chose to avoid sending Eli Manning a Christmas card by making sure Manning saw plenty of him throughout this game. Graham spent most of the night in the Giants backfield. He tallied four tackles, one tackle for a loss and four quarterback hits. Graham was also a contributor in hurrying Manning to make some ill-advised passes or overthrow his targets.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins had arguably his best game of the season. Jenkins picked Eli Manning off twice and returned one of them for a pick six. He seemed to read Manning's eyes very well and undercut some passes. Jenkins also timed a pass perfectly on Manning's first pass attempt of the game to break up a sure completion to Odell Beckham, Jr. He followed that up with solid coverage on Beckham on the very next play forcing another incomplete pass. Jenkins came up huge in the fourth quarter when he made an outstanding and athletic leaping grab to pull down an interception near the sideline. He finished with six tackles, three passes successfully defended and a pair of interceptions.
Terrence Brooks - Brooks does not see the field very much, but he did take advantage of his opportunity in this game. Brooks came across the field and managed to pick off Eli Manning's final pass preserving the win. I saw Brooks leaving the locker room and he had the ball he picked off tucked firmly in his arm with a huge smile across his face. It was a well earned game ball because who knows what would have happened had Manning been given one more chance from the Philadelphia 34-yard line. He also added a forced fumble on special teams. Credit Brooks for making the most of his chances.
Darren Sproles - Sproles was a little fresher than the rest of the players on the field. He missed last week's game due to the concussion protocol. He looked to be a couple steps fresher on a sweep off the right side that ultimately went 25 yards for a touchdown. He made one beautiful cut in the middle of it, but other than that it was a credit to the hole the offensive line opened for him. Sproles carried the ball seven times for 40 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 23 yards.
Nolan Carroll - Carroll had a decent game. He finally turned his head around in coverage and managed to knock a ball away. Carroll picked a great time for that doing so on a fourth down attempt by the Giants. Carroll also broke up a pass to Beckham on a slant right after Malcolm Jenkins' pick six. He also crashed hard on a quick pass to Victor Cruz and delivered a big hit to stop the play for a one-yard gain. Carroll finished with six tackles and one pass successfully defended.
Vinny Curry - Curry has not been much of a factor in several games during the middle of the season, but did a nice job contributing in this one. He was frequently introducing himself to Eli Manning in the backfield. Curry finished second on the team with three quarterback hits. He also recorded one tackle. Statistically speaking it was not a lot, but on the field he had a solid impact. His pressure helped force Manning to get rid of the ball early and overthrow some of his receivers.
Doug Pederson - Pederson had a great script to open the game with. He wisely ran behind a healthy and well rested Lane Johnson. The opening drive concluded with a 25-yard touchdown run by Darren Sproles. However, Pederson went away from that and tried to throw the ball more. That led to short possessions for the Eagles throughout the remainder of the first half. After Carson Wentz was forced to go through the concussion protocol, Pederson called a double reverse forcing Wentz into the position of a lead blocker. That seems pretty unwise. He did do a good job of using his challenges winning both of them. I had no issue with Pederson trying for a touchdown on fourth and goal from the one-yard line. I have a little issue with the play he called. I also applaud his decision to kick a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter passing up a fourth down conversion attempt. That kick increased their lead to eight points. The Eagles got the ball with 1:54 remaining in the game. The Giants had three timeouts. Pederson ran twice forcing the Giants to call a pair of timeouts. However, Pederson called a pass play on third down that fell incomplete allowing the Giants to preserve a timeout. I would have rather seen Pederson call a run play or screen, something to keep the clock running and force the Giants to have no timeouts when they regained possession. It almost cost the Eagles another loss.
Carson Wentz - Wentz made some amazingly athletic plays to avoid multiple sacks. He turned them into positive plays for the most part. Wentz extended one play and tried to give his receivers time to find open space, but a throw downfield was picked off along the sideline. I understand he needs better receivers that can improvise when he breaks the pocket; however, he needs to make sure those kind of passes will not be intercepted when he tries to take a shot. Wentz did throw a perfect pass to Nelson Agholor on a 40-yard touchdown. He read Agholor breaking past the safety and dropped a dime right where he could catch it in stride and score. It was not a great game for Wentz, but he managed to earn his first victory over an NFC East opponent. Wentz completed 13 of 24 passes for 152 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also carried the ball four times for 27 yards.
Nelson Agholor - The Eagles starting offense was introduced prior to the game and Agholor ran onto the field amongst a chorus of boos from the crowd. He once against prompted the boo birds to come out when he dropped a perfect pass that hit him in the hands. He kept fighting and ultimately got a step on the safety and beat him for a 40-yard touchdown reception. It was yet another roller coaster ride of a game for Agholor. He finished with two receptions for 47 yards.
Leodis McKelvin - McKelvin had an inconsistent game. He got beat by Odell Beckham, Jr. for a solid gain down the sideline. Later in the game, he got beat on a nearly identical play by Victor Cruz converting a third down. McKelvin did a nice job defending a deep ball late in the fourth quarter preventing a touchdown. His coverage appears to be a step or two short almost every time. He finished with six tackles and three passes successfully defended.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews struggled to get any kind of separation in this game. That led to few targets his way and in turn very few receptions. Matthews had his number called on third down with a chance to ice the game, but Wentz did not lead him well enough and Matthews could not break free of the defender. The pass fell incomplete. Matthews caught just two passes for a total of 12 yards.
Dorial Green-Beckham - DGB continues to fail to win any kind of physical battles. There was a pass thrown his way in this game that he just needed to come back to the ball to make the catch. Instead, he waited for it allowing the defender the opportunity to hit him and break up the pass. Overall, he has been a disappointment in this offense. He fails to use his size and reach to his advantage. He could be a real weapon if he applied himself, but that has yet to really happen much here. DGB caught just one pass for seven yards.