Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Falcons
The Philadelphia Eagles suffered a disappointing 26-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener.
The Eagles were expected to put on an offensive show, but it was the defense keeping the team in the game until the offense could finally get into a rhythm.
Many poor grades in the first half improved thanks to a strong second half performance by the Eagles. In some cases, the stronger second half did not lead to very good grades.
(Listen to Grayson's Grades)
Malcolm Jenkins - Solid performance by the veteran. He made a huge tackle for a loss on third down to get the ball back for the Eagles offense in the final two minutes of the game. Jenkins was all over the field deflecting passes and making tackles. Jenkins racked up 6 tackles and batted down 3 passes.
Darren Sproles - Sproles was an offensive machine. He was effective on the ground and through the air. Sproles made some big plays to the tune of 5 carries for 50 yards and 6 receptions for 74 yards. He also added 25 yards via punt returns for a sum of 149 total yards in the game.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews had a very good game, but the drop on the Eagles final drive of the game proved to be extremely costly. Nobody will take that drop harder than Matthews. He finished with 10 receptions for 102 yards.
Sam Bradford - I thought Bradford played well overall. He let adrenaline force a few overthrows early in the game, but settled down later. Bradford had a great second half and nearly led the team to a 4th quarter comeback. He completed 36 of 52 passes for 334 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. The interception he threw at the end of the first half allowed the Falcons to tack on a Field Goal prior to halftime and might have been the difference in the game.
Kiko Alonso - Alonso made one of the biggest plays in the game early on. Without his huge one-handed interception the Eagles are not in the game at the end. That pick occurred in the endzone with the Falcons in the red zone. He finished the game with 6 tackles and one interception.
DeMarco Murray - Murray's regular season Eagles debut was pretty good. Forget about the stats. I know they don't look stellar. Educated football fans will see he scored two touchdowns on plays that would have stopped a lot of other running backs. I had a Cowboys fan tweet me that he only had 7 carries for 6 yards at one point despite his two touchdowns. Murray did more with few blocks than his stats reflect. He finished with 8 carries for 9 yards and 4 receptions for 11 yards with a total of two touchdowns.
Fletcher Cox - Cox continues to be an unsung hero on this defense. He does more than any stats reflect. That man disrupts the middle of the offensive line and allows other Eagles to come up and make plays. He did get some recognition for a sack in this game. Cox finished with 2 tackles, 1 sack and 2 quarterback hits.
Walter Thurmond - Thurmond had a huge interception early in the second half and returned it inside the Falcons 10 yard line. It eventually led to a touchdown. Thurmond finished the game with 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass deflection and 1 interception.
Mychal Kendricks - Kendricks had a solid game. He was constantly around the ball. Kendricks did not do anything stellar to warrant an 'A' in my opinion but he did lead the team with 10 tackles. That deserves a solid grade.
Zach Ertz - I honestly did not expect Ertz to play in this game. I thought the Eagles might look to make sure he is 100 percent healthy for the game against the Cowboys and not risk anything by playing against the Falcons. He not only played, but made some big catches. Ertz caught 3 passes for 46 yards.
Ryan Matthews - Matthews deserves a 'B' simply for taking advantage of the few opportunities he had. I know Matthews dropped a pass when he was wide open in the first half. However, Matthews showed a great ability to fall forward after contact and scored his first touchdown as an Eagle in this game. I did not understand why Matthews did not get more opportunities. Matthews received just 3 carries for 4 yards and 1 touchdown along with 3 receptions for 24 yards.
Billy Davis - In all fairness to Davis, I struggled with this grade. The offense going three-and-out frequently in the first quarter did not give him much time to make adjustments with his players. To his credit, he did make adjustments that stifled the Falcons offense in the second half by utilizing more blitzes. The Eagles are not in this game at the end without the play of the defense. I do knock Davis for not switching Byron Maxwell on the coverage of Jones or for not giving more safety help when it became evident Jones was going to have a big game.
Offensive Line - The offensive line did not do enough to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. DeMarco Murray did not have much room at all to run in the first half and Sam Bradford took way too many hits. On top of that, the line was called for too many holding penalties. All of that needs to be polished prior to Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Cody Parkey - Parkey earned a 'C' in large part for missing a huge field goal that would have given the Eagles the lead late in the game. However, Chip Kelly hesitated in making the decision to send him out there and Parkey appeared to rush the kick. He made a 29 yard field goal earlier in the game along with 3 extra points, but that miss will sting for a while. I wondered why Kelly did not take a timeout there to give Parkey more time to set up and make the kick or to consider getting the first down on 4th and Inches.
Chip Kelly - Kelly's play calls on offense left me scratching my head in this game. I question several decisions. Why was he so stubborn with running the ball on first and second down in the first quarter when it was not going anywhere? My biggest problem was with the field goal attempt on 4th and 1 late in the 4th quarter. That kick was for the lead and his indecision led to a rushed kick. I understand wanting to save timeouts in case the kick is missed. However; with such an important kick, why not take a timeout to not rush the special teams unit or take an extra minute to decide if the field goal attempt is the right decision. I also do not understand why Ryan Matthews was rarely on the field. I failed to see any kind of rhythm in his running back rotation.
Byron Maxwell - Maxwell was clearly picked on and taken advantage of by Julio Jones. However, Mawell's strength is bump-and-run coverage. Jones was beating that early on and warranted a change by Billy Davis. Jones caught 9 passes for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. One has to wonder if Maxwell was put in a position to succeed. Hindsight says he was not. Maxwell did finish with 9 tackles, but that was due to the ball being thrown in his direction frequently.