Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Commanders
The Philadelphia Eagles never led until midway through the fourth quarter. Once they got the lead, they never surrendered it and came from behind to beat the Washington Commanders 38-31.
Jalen Hurts threw four touchdown passes in a game for just the second time in his career. Two of them went to AJ Brown who set an NFL record with at least 125 receiving yards in six straight games. Julio Jones also caught his first touchdown pass as an Eagle.
At 7-1, the Eagles have the best record in the league. First place in the NFC East will be on the line Sunday in Philadelphia when the Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys.
Here is the latest edition of Grayson’s Grades:
AJ Brown – Brown has put himself into the conversation as arguably the best Wide Receiver in the NFL right now. He set an NFL record with his sixth straight game of at least 125 receiving yards. Brown caught eight passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He had an early candidate for catch of the year in the league when he reached and caught the ball with one hand while making sure he got his knees in-bounds on the side of the endzone. He is on a tear and playing at an elite level right now.
Jalen Hurts – Hurts has been hampered by a sore knee and played with a brace or a sleeve on his banged up left knee. Despite that, he managed to avoid the pass rush by moving laterally without issue. Hurts had a great game passing completing 76 percent of his passes. He completed 29 of 38 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns. His only blemish was on a ‘Brotherly Shove’ play at the goal line. Hurts took the snap and as he was leaning forward to begin his push, he hit the ball off of Landon Dickerson’s backside and fumbled.
Nakobe Dean – Dean was flying all over the field. He led the team with 12 tackles. The next closest tackler was Reed Blankenship with nine. Dean needs to do a slightly better job covering passes over the middle. But this was a solid performance as he looks to be getting more and more comfortable after his return from injury. Along with Dean’s 12 tackles, he also recorded two tackles for a loss.
Haason Reddick – Reddick is on quite a tear over the last month or so. It surprised me to learn that Reddick has more sacks through eight games (6.5) than he did a year ago (5.5). Reddick had a huge sack when he forced Sam Howell to fumble late in the game. Reddick had three tackles including that sack and two tackles for a loss.
DeVonta Smith – Smith has been overshadowed by AJ Brown, but he does not seem to mind and still put up some great numbers himself in this game. Smith caught seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came when he slipped behind the defense and was wide open for Jalen Hurts to hit him on a 38 yard touchdown.
Reed Blankenship – Blankenship helped the Eagles take the lead for good. He intercepted Sam Howell in the fourth quarter and returned it to the Commanders 15 yard line. That set up the go ahead touchdown. Blankenship continues to look more and more comfortable. I love how he seems to trust his gut which helps him move and react more quickly than if he tried to think first. Blankenship had nine tackles with one interception and one pass successfully defended.
D’Andre Swift – Swift only had two carries for three yards in the first half. It was as if the Eagles abandoned the run game. But they came out in the second half and allowed Swift to start getting something going on the ground. He got 14 carries in the second half and ultimately finished the game with 16 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. Swift also caught two passes for seven yards.
Kevin Byard – Byard was traded from the Titans to the Eagles early in the week and crammed in his preparation to play every snap in the game. Undoubtedly there were parts of the playbook the Eagles could not utilize given his unfamiliarity with it. Expect Byard to get more comfortable with his assignments as the weeks pass by. I also expect him to play better as they are able to open up that playbook further with every passing week. Byard finished this game with seven tackles.
Brian Johnson – Johnson continues to confuse me. I cannot figure out why he almost directly refuses to have anything close to a balanced attack. When you have one of if not the best offensive line in the league, let them run block. They do it well and Swift’s patience to allow holes to open only further amplifies their success. But you have to make a commitment to it. The Eagles should never again have a half where their Running Backs carry the ball three times for negative yardage. Wear defenses down with the run, control the clock and let the passing game emerge within the flow of that somewhat balanced attack. Johnson has to help this team do better in the red zone. Two turnovers inside the opponent’s five yard line are equal to gross misconduct. As the schedule gets much more difficult over the next two months, this offense needs to develop an identity. To their credit, they have shown they can overcome adversity and come from behind to win.
Kenneth Gainwell – Gainwell earned this grade for two reasons. This kid is talented and showed that throughout the postseason a year ago. However, he appears to be pressing. Gainwell is trying to do too much and forgetting to protect the ball. Obviously fumbling it inside the opponent’s five yard line is inexcusable. Gainwell was trying to push for every yard he could get and in the process forgot to truly protect the ball. Gainwell also has to stay off his phone at halftime. He needs to remain focused on the game until the game is over and definitely NOT interact with fans during halftime.