Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Bengals
The Philadelphia Eagles took one step closer to putting the final nail in the coffin that represents the 2016 season after suffering a 32-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The game was never really close and got out of hand quickly. Cincinnati scored the first 29 points of the game before the Eagles started to score. They lacked emotion, energy and discipline as they were called for ten penalties totaling 88 yards.
The Eagles fell to 5-7 on the season with four games remaining. Brace yourself, this report card is not pretty.
Paul Turner - Turner never had a ball thrown his way last week in his NFL debut. It was a different story this week as Turner was targeted eight times. He pulled in six receptions for 80 yards. Turner showed the great hands that helped him make a name for himself in the preseason. He stepped up and played well.
Trey Burton - Burton saw his share of opportunities as he had nine passes thrown his way. He has great hands and typically catches everything that is catchable. Burton grabbed five passes for 53 yards. He is effective on the sideline and over the middle.
Zach Ertz - Ertz continues to be one of Wentz' favorite targets. He had 15 passes thrown his way in this game and managed to catch nine of them for 79 yards and a touchdown. Ertz is a reliable target although it was not until the last few weeks that he and Wentz have found better chemistry.
Dorial Green-Beckham - DGB had a good game last week and followed that up with another solid performance until he was knocked out of the game due to injury. He was hit hard in his side on an incomplete pass in the second half and never returned to the game. He again appeared to be more aggressive off the line of scrimmage and did a better job going after the ball in the air. There was one pass that was high I felt he should have caught early in the game, but it went off his hands. Other than that, not a bad effort. He hauled in four passes for 29 yards.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor bounced back very well after he was a healthy inactive last week. He made some difficult catches in traffic and most importantly had no drops in this game. It was the kind of performance he needed to have to try and clear the mental hurdle that has led to some of his poor play earlier this season. He finished with four catches for 23 yards.
Fletcher Cox - Cox has been unjustly criticized in my opinion the last few weeks. He is not in a position where a lot of stats show up in the box score. His job is to take up space in the middle and allow his teammates to make plays. That is what he is being paid big bucks to do. Cox did his job and helped suffocate the Bengals running game. He finished with two tackles and a pass successfully defended.
Bennie Logan - Logan gave a solid effort in this game. His biggest mistake was jumping offside early in the game. Logan was able to force a fumble at the start of the fourth quarter. He finished with two tackles on top of the forced fumble.
Brandon Graham - Graham fed off of the space and players occupied by Fletcher Cox and was able to burst into the backfield and make some plays. He came off the edge nicely and was able to chase down Jeremy Hill for a loss. Graham finished tied for the team lead in tackles with nine of them. He also racked up two tackles for a loss and one quarterback hit.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks is clearly one of the best players on this defense. He flies around extremely well and tends to have a nose for the ball. Hicks did a nice job helping to stuff the run. He did not show up much in the box score recording just three tackles.
Carson Wentz - Wentz was consistently high throwing the ball early in the game. He finally started to settle down and hit his targets much better in the second quarter. Wentz continues to be asked to do too much in my opinion. Without any consistent dedication to the running game, opposing teams continue to eat up the inexperienced Eagles offensive line and get to Wentz. The Bengals hit his arm in the second half leading directly to an interception. With the team behind by a big margin, the Eagles were made one-dimensional allowing the Bengals to play the pass and eventually pick off another pass.
Brandon Brooks - Brooks was the most noticed among offensive linemen getting beat. He missed last week's game due to illness that put him in the hospital. It is unknown if that led to some of his poor play in this game. He constantly got beat leading to Wentz having to hurry passes and take hard hits. Brooks has been a great addition to the offensive line this season, but this was not one of his better performances.
Doug Pederson - Pederson challenged his team not to "tank it" in the final five weeks of the season, but most of his players appeared to lack any desire or energy to make some plays. Pederson's scripted plays to open games have been excellent at home and awful on the road. That trend continued going three and out to start the game. His team played undisciplined and racked up ten penalties totaling 88 yards. It was the fifth time this season the Eagles were called for at least ten penalties. Offensively, the Eagles lacked any kind of rhythm and any appearance of a game plan. Carson Wentz threw the ball 60 times, which is far too many and a clear indication the Eagles were behind in a big way.
Jim Schwartz - The Eagles defense is like a jet plane that has lost all of its engines and is crashing down to earth. This defense started the season racking up sacks at a solid pace. That is not happening anymore. They are barely even getting to the quarterback. The secondary is flat out abused by the opponent weekly. Schwartz must find a way to jump start his side of the ball. At least they forced a pair of turnovers. However, the Bengals scored on their first six possessions and scored 29 unanswered points. Schwartz has a secondary that fails to force incomplete passes and give up touchdowns. It is hard to believe this was among the best defenses in the league a month into the season. It is clearly far from that with one month remaining.
Defensive Backs - This unit continued to play poorly. They fail to challenge receivers enough to force incompletions. The defensive backs also continue to give too much of a cushion against the opposition resulting in key completions. They leave way too much room for these NFL quarterbacks to fit the ball into. The defensive backs are always playing catchup in coverage and as a result do not turn their heads around to play the ball. Early in the game Jaylen Watkins had a sure interception that hit him in the hands and he dropped it. Nolan Carroll gave up a big play when he was outmuscled by Cody Core for a huge gain downfield. Leodis McKelvin got beat deep when he lost position on his man. McKelvin was tied for the team lead in tackles with nine. A defensive back leading the team in tackles is not necessarily a good thing. Clearly this unit needs to be upgraded in the offseason.