Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Browns (Preseason)
Cleveland, OHIO - The Philadelphia Eagles went to Cleveland still looking for their first preseason win and left without it. More importantly, they were trying to find any kind of rhythm with their first-team offense which has lacked any kind of momentum through two preseason games thus far. There remains an APB out to try and locate anything that looks like an offense from the guys in green.
The offense was atrocious once again and committed four first half turnovers en route to another loss. Meanwhile, the defense found a way to keep the Browns out of the endzone despite the four first half turnovers and keep this a game.
The woes on offense can partially be attributed to a lack of firepower. Receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor once again did not play. Running Backs Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement were also on the sideline. Add to that starting Left Tackle Jason Peters and it at least offers an excuse to help explain the lack of rhythm. That being said, there were drives and opportunities to score points and the Eagles failed to do just that.
The report card is out and Grayson's Grades paint a bleak picture after week three of the preseason.
Zach Ertz - Ertz was the only consistent offensive piece performing early in the game. He caught three passes on the opening drive and delivered a solid block that allowed Wendell Smallwood to get the corner and convert a third and one run. Ertz hauled in four passes for 26 yards.
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood did not have many running lanes early on, but when he did get a couple of them in the second quarter he cashed in producing a pair of 14-yard runs on consecutive plays. He followed that up later in the game with a solid run up the middle and broke an arm tackle to rack up a ten yard gain. Smallwood finished with 12 carries for 53 yards. That 5.3 yard per carry average should help him solidify that fourth running back spot on the depth chart heading into the preseason finale next week. Smallwood added two receptions for 12 yards.
Derek Barnett - Barnett had arguably his best preseason performance. The first round pick of a year ago did a great job in third-down coverage to force a punt. He also turned in a great bull rush on two defenders to create pressure and draw an offensive holding penalty on fourth down. The penalty was declined and forced a turnover on downs. Barnett later had a meeting with Chris Long and Michael Bennett at the quarterback for a sack. Barnett tallied two tackles including one tackle for a loss.
Fletcher Cox - Cox did a good job taking up space in the middle of the line and occasionally getting into the backfield. He did register a sack in this game when he got to Baker Mayfield and not only recorded the sack but also knocked the ball away from him for a fumble that was recovered by the Browns. Cox officially finished the day with a pair of tackles including a sack and a forced fumble.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks is solid up the middle on this defense. He feeds off the hard work created by his defensive line. He made a couple of nice hits and picked up a great sack on third down when he got through the line untouched on an all out blitz by the Eagles. Hicks finished tied for third on the team with four tackles. He also recorded a sack, a tackle for a loss, a Quarterback hit and a pass successfully defended.
Sidney Jones - Jones appears to have the upper edge in the battle for the starting nickel back spot. He played with the first team through the entire first half in this game. Jones is battling it out with Avonte Maddox for that spot. Jones did not get many opportunities, but did a pretty good job staying with receivers in coverage. He was part of the coverage that prevented the Browns from scoring on multiple pass plays from the one-yard line. Jones tallied one tackle in the game.
Avonte Maddox - Maddox played in the second half and did a great job of sinking back in zone coverage and staying low enough that Baker Mayfield did not see him. Maddox picked off the pass and returned it 36 yards. Maddox was not picked on much from his position. The battle for the starting nickel spot is fun to watch between he and Jones. Maddox recorded one tackle in the game, one interception and one pass successfully defended.
Nate Sudfeld - Sudfeld has had a pretty good preseason, but did not fare very well in this game. His best thrown ball wound up falling incomplete after it was initially ruled a touchdown. Sudfeld hit Rashard Davis in the back of the endzone, but Davis' second foot just caught part of the white out of bounds line and replay overturned the touchdown. Sudfeld held the ball a little too long a couple of times resulting in sacks. Sudfeld completed just 11 of 21 passes for 72 yards.
Nick Foles - The only reason Foles did not receive a lower grade was because he faced a lot of pressure in this game and did not have much time to try and do something with the ball. That being said, when there was an opportunity for a play to be made, he failed to make it. He hung a pass high in the air resulting in an interception. Later, inside the red zone, he broke free from the pocket and tried to force a pass to Zach Ertz in double-coverage that was also picked off. He finished the night completing 13 of 17 passes for 127 yards, two interceptions, a fumble and was sacked three times.
Halapoulivatti Vaitai - Big V has not had a good preseason. He did a great job filling in for starting Left Tackle Jason Peters last season; however, he has not picked up where he left off. After a poor showing last week, he missed a block early in the game that resulted in a sack and fumble by Foles as he was trying to step up in the pocket. Vaitai also gave up another sack in the second quarter.
Matt Jones - Jones has not done a good job of grabbing an opportunity to make this team as a fourth running back on the depth chart. In a battle with Wendell Smallwood, Jones has recorded multiple fumbles this preseason. After Smallwood racked up a pair of 14-yard runs on consecutive plays, Jones came in and fumbled the ball after making a reception and turning it upfield. He finished with three carries for 12 yards while catching six passes for 30 yards. However, that fumble was a huge blemish that ended a productive drive by the Eagles.
Jake Elliott - Elliott had just one field goal opportunity but continues his struggle from extra point distance. With the ball spotted at the same place as an extra point in the fourth quarter of a 5-0 game, Jake Elliott missed wide left. Had Elliott made that kick, he might have had an opportunity for the game winner on the final drive of the game. Elliott has power and accuracy from long distance; however, he needs to be a lot more consistent from inside 40 yards.