Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Philadelphia Eagles navigated an injury-plagued season and win the NFC East with a 34-17 victory over the New York Giants. The Eagles went into this game without their top four receivers (Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz.) They were also without Tackle Lane Johnson and lost Running Back Miles Sanders and Guard Brandon Brooks in this game.
Who the Eagles will be able to suit up for next week's playoff game will remain a mystery, but for the time being they can enjoy the division title.
Boston Scott scored three rushing touchdowns and Carson Wentz set the single-season franchise record for passing yards in a season and completions in a season. In fact, he became the first NFL Quarterback to pass for more than 4,000 yards without a 500-yard receiver.
Here is the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Doug Pederson - Pederson deserves nothing less than an 'A' after taking this band of misfit toys and leading them to a division title. His Quarterback passed for more than 4,000 yards without his top three receivers for most of the season. He also lost his top running back when Jordan Howard got hurt. Then after Miles Sanders got hurt in this game he had Boston Scott get three rushing touchdowns. Pederson was without his starting Tight End in Zach Ertz and Right Tackle in Lane Johnson and lost his starting Right Guard Brandon Brooks in the middle of this game. I have criticized Pederson for some in-game decisions throughout the season, but he gets his guys to perform late in the season when they need to year after year. Kudos to Doug!
Carson Wentz - It is phenomenal how Wentz stepped up and became the franchise quarterback this team paid him to be. Imagine what he would have done with any of his top receivers. He became the first quarterback in franchise history to pass for more than 4,000 yards and is the first quarterback in NFL history to do that without a 500-yard receiver. Not only that, Wentz started all 16 games. He came into the season with some questioning his durability and lack of ability to win games late. He checked off both of those boxes and truly stepped up and asserted himself as a leader. Wentz completed 23 of 40 passes for 289 yards and one touchdown.
Miles Sanders - It is a shame that Sanders got hurt in this game. He went out with an ankle injury in the second quarter after an effective start to the game. Sanders carried the ball nine times for 52 yards. He was standing outside the locker room after the victory holding up an NFC East division championship shirt for his teammates to see as they walked off the field. It shows what kind of teammate he is and how much he has grown in his rookie season.
Boston Scott - If I told you prior to the season opener that Boston Scott would score three touchdowns in a playoff-clinching week 17 victory, I probably would have been committed to a mental institution. However, that is exactly what happened in this game. Scott was nothing more than a practice squad player until he couldn't afford to be. Once he was given his shot, he took full advantage of it. Scott carried the ball 19 times for 54 yards and three touchdowns. He added four receptions for 84 yards. He tries to model his game after Darren Sproles and showed the quickness and ability to rack up yardage that Sproles has shown.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert is among the top ten NFL reception leaders by Tight Ends. That as a backup to Zach Ertz. Without Ertz in this game, Goedert had to step up and he did. He had some big grabs early in the game to help move the ball down the field. Goedert added some more big catches in the second half. In the end, Goedert caught four passes for 65 yards with many of those receptions coming at key times.
Josh Perkins - Perkins also stepped up with the absence of Ertz. In fact, he caught Wentz' only passing touchdown. It was a beautiful pass by Wentz across the field and Perkins did an excellent job tracking the ball as he headed toward the corner of the endzone with a defender right on his back. Perkins finished with four receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Jake Elliott - Elliott had a shot at redemption and took full advantage of it. One week after missing two field goals from 50+ yards he drilled a 50 yard field goal to give the Eagles a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter. He also got the scoring started when he booted a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz deserves a lot of credit. He went into this game without his two starting corners and his defense has allowed just two touchdowns in the last eight quarters. Other than a 68-yard touchdown run by Saquan Barkley, his defense bottled up the star running back. Outside of that carry, Barkley finished with 16 carries for 24 yards. His defense was also able to get to the quarterback and forced a huge turnover in the second half. Malcolm Jenkins forced the fumble and Fletcher Cox recovered it on the two-yard line. Schwartz' defense forced two turnovers and held the Giants to 17 points while sacking Daniel Jones four times.
Fletcher Cox - Perhaps there was no bigger play in the game than Fletcher Cox's fumble recovery early in the fourth quarter. He was able to push Daniel Jones away and get the recovery at the Giants' two-yard line. The Eagles scored on the very next play to take a ten-point lead and it drastically changed the momentum of the game. Cox was also a factor in keeping the Giants rushing attack in check.
Brandon Graham - Graham was very effective right from the jump in this game. He did a great job dropping Saquan Barkley for a four-yard loss. Later that drive, he lined up at left defensive end and came around the line after the snap unblocked and sacked Daniel Jones from the right side forcing a punt. It was the only sack credited to Graham, but he played a big role in two other sacks forcing Jones to step right into the arms of one of Graham's teammates. Graham finished with three tackles including three tackles for a loss and one sack and one quarterback hit.
Derek Barnett - Barnett played a big role in this game. Twice he was able to sack Daniel Jones. Brandon Graham forced Jones towards Barnett multiple times and he finished off the rookie. Barnett is clearly looking more and more healthy with each passing week. The Eagles will need his pass rush ability in the playoffs. Barnett tallied two tackles including two sacks and two tackles for a loss.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins was a big part of the biggest play of the game. He forced the fumble that Fletcher Cox recovered at the Giants' two-yard line. He saw Jones fumble the snap and pick up the ball and instantly went to knock it away from him and was successful. Jenkins finished second on the team with eight tackles including a forced fumble, a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hit and a pass successfully defended.
Rasul Douglas - Douglas had some high and low moments in this game. He showed great coverage on third down in the second quarter to break up a pass forcing a punt. Douglas was able to defend other passes pretty well also. However, he was beaten multiple times including for a touchdown by Golden Tate. Douglas was guilty of what a lot of Eagles corners do and that is not turning around to play the ball. Many times he had his back to the ball as he was covering the receiver. If he was able to turn around, he might have been able to pick one or two of those passes off. He may be starting again next week, so that needs to be corrected. In the end, Douglas finished with four tackles including three passes successfully defended and one quarterback hit.
Cre'Von LeBlanc - LeBlanc played a lot like Douglas. For the most part, he did a good job in coverage. He broke up several passes. However, he also had some moments where if he turned around in coverage to play the ball he could have picked off a pass or two. LeBlanc overall did a good job in playing most of the game. He finished tied for second on the team with eight tackles and had two passes successfully defended.
Injury Tent - The dreaded injury tent earned its second 'F' of the season. If the injury tent is prominently featured on the broadcast, you know you have some problems. It got so bad at one point that Craig James was in the injury tent, which prevented Brandon Graham from going into the tent for an injury evaluation. The Eagles lost Miles Sanders and Brandon Brooks to injury. Other players were in and out of the injury tent. It would be nice if that tent does not pop up at all and see any visitors next week in the playoffs.