Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Giants
The Philadelphia Eagles closed out the 2014 season with a 34-26 win over the New York Giants. For the second year in a row the Eagles finished with a 10-6 regular season record.
The Eagles had a December to forget winning just one of their final four games and watching a potential playoff berth evaporate into elimination from postseason contention.
The offseason is here and there are questions facing the organization and some of the players on this team regarding their future in Philadelphia.
Once again the report cards are issued and some players will not like their grades.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews finished his rookie campaign with a strong showing against the Giants. He led the Eagles in receiving yards and got the scoring started for the birds with a beautiful 44 yard touchdown reception. Matthews finished the game with 8 receptions for 105 yards
Zach Ertz - Ertz followed up his record-breaking game against the Redskins with another solid performance. It was nowhere near record levels, but still very good. Ertz continued to be a reliable threat over the middle of the field and finished with 4 receptions for 56 yards.
James Casey - Casey is the third tight end on the roster, but took advantage of his opportunity on special teams. He blocked a punt in the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown.
Trey Burton - Burton is the fourth tight end on the roster but remains active every week for his solid play on special teams. Burton recovered a blocked punt in the third quarter and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. He became the 18th Eagles player to score a touchdown this season.
Cody Parkey - Parkey completed a solid rookie season by making both of his field goal attempts in the game. It came as time expired in the first half and gave the Eagles a 17-16 lead. Parkey ends his rookie year as the NFL's all-time rookie and Eagles single season record holder for points with 148.
Donnie Jones - Jones does not get enough credit in my opinion for what he does on special teams. He punted three times in the first half. All three of those punts were downed inside the 20. Jones also positioned a punt perfectly in the fourth quarter that prevented a return when the Giants got the ball in a one possession game. Jones punted it 7 times averaging 41.7 yards per punt. 4 of them were downed inside the 20 yard line.
LeSean McCoy - McCoy finished out the 2014 season very well. He broke free for a 23 yard gain in the game and reached the second level of the defense a few times. McCoy carried the ball 17 times for 99 yards. He also made a great move to gain 15 yards on his only reception in the game.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins was seemingly cleaning up the mess the rest of the secondary was leaving him in coverage. He was credited with two pass deflections. It is not good when your safety is the leading tackler for your team. Jenkins was the leading tackler for the Eagles with 8 tackles.
Fletcher Cox - Cox was definitely a snub from the pro bowl. He played very well for the Eagles in the middle of the 3-4 and stopped the run once again. Cox was second on the team in tackles with 7.
Jeremy Maclin - This might have been Maclin's final game as an Eagle. He is a free agent and said after the game that both sides have already begun talking. His final game of the season yielded a solid performance pulling in 3 passes for 49 yards. He can only take advantage of the opportunities presented to him. I thought he had a shot at a deep ball near the endzone, but it was slightly overthrown and fell incomplete. The Eagles should make it a priority to bring him back.
Brent Celek - Celek was not nearly the offensive weapon this season that he has been in the past. Part of that was due to his success as a blocker with an injured offensive line earlier in the year. Celek has great hands and showed that once again when he caught the only pass thrown his way. It was a one yard touchdown reception that was a difficult catch.
Mark Sanchez - Sanchez had another mixed performance. I dock a letter grade due to a turnover and Sanchez did throw a pick in this game. I also felt like he took too many sacks. His accuracy was off and he did miss some wide open receivers. On the plus side, he moved very well in the pocket extending a few plays and turning them into some big gains. He also showed faster decision making when it came to tucking the ball with nothing open downfield. Sanchez hit Jordan Matthews in stride for a 44 yard touchdown early in the game and followed it up with a very well thrown ball to Brent Celek for a 1 yard touchdown later in the game. Sanchez was 23 of 36 for 292 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw one interception in the game.
Offensive Line - The offensive line had some good and bad moments in this one. Jason Peters was beat at one point leading to a big sack on Sanchez. Andrew Gardner was called for a false start penalty early in the game. Overall, there were holes opened, but not held for long enough and some of them would have yielded big gains for McCoy. On the other hand, they did create enough lanes for McCoy to get to the second level and bust some solid runs. The line helped pave the way to a total of 164 rushing yards. However, they did allow four sacks.
Nate Allen - Allen saved himself from the 'F' category by coming up big when it counted. He picked off Eli Manning late in the fourth quarter when the Giants were in position to possibly tie the game. However, when Williams and Carroll were not giving up the big play through the air, Nate Allen did his part to allow the opponent to post big gains. Allen, Williams, Watkins and Carroll were taken advantage of by Randle and Beckham, Jr. throughout the game.
Cary Williams - Williams was one of several Eagles defensive backs to get burned repeatedly throughout the day. He gives too big of a cushion to opposing receivers and quarterbacks are taking advantage of that. He helped to allow a pair of Giants receivers to go over the 100-yard mark in the game.
Nolan Carroll II - Carroll replaced Bradley Fletcher who was inactive for this game. Carroll did some things well, but overall gave up way too many big gains through the air and ultimately earned the same grade Fletcher received for much of the season, an 'F'. Carroll helped allow a pair of Giants to go over 100 receiving yards in the game.
Jaylen Watkins - Watkins gave up some big plays like the rest of his teammates in the defensive backfield. That includes a 63 yard touchdown to Odell Beckham, Jr. in the fourth quarter. Watkins fell down on that play right after Beckham caught the ball.