Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Patriots (Preseason)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots met in week two of the preseason. It was their first meeting since the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Tom Brady played all but one snap in the first half en route to a 27-7 lead midway through the game. Ultimately the Patriots topped the Eagles 37-20.
The Eagles defense admitted afterwards that they are confused on the interpretation of the new "lowering the helmet" personal foul. They were called for two of those as well as a hit on a defenseless receiver by Malcolm Jenkins. Those penalties extended drives for the Patriots. All total, the Eagles committed nine penalties for 97 yards.
The offense sputtered under Nick Foles who was missing Left Tackle Jason Peters, Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery, Slot Receiver Nelson Agholor and Running Backs Darren Sproles and Corey Clement from the offensive attack. Foles left the game in the second quarter after suffering a shoulder strain. The severity of that injury is unknown and awaiting more tests once the Eagles return to Philadelphia.
Grayson's Grades returns for another season. Without further ado, here is a preseason edition of the latest report card.
Nate Sudfeld - Sudfeld has great arm strength. At times, he appears to flick his wrist and the ball goes 20 yards down the field. However, his biggest problem is consistency. Sudfeld made some nice passes in this game and helped drive the team down the field twice in the first half. He completed a four-yard touchdown pass to Shelton Gibson who did all the work to nearly embarrass a defender and break free for an easy throw. Sudfeld also threw a dime to Tight End Richard Rodgers placing it perfectly in his arms with coverage blanketed all over him. Sudfeld completed 22 of 39 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns with one interception that was not his fault. The pass hit Matt Jones in the face mask and bounced right into the hands of the defender.
Shelton Gibson - Gibson is having a solid preseason. The second-year player is emerging as a solid kickoff return threat and receiver. His speed helps him seem more elusive than defenders initially think when they take their angles to try and bring him down. He also has good concentration to haul in the pass ahead of a defender on his heels. Gibson made a great move to juke out the defender and create massive separation for a touchdown. Gibson caught five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Sidney Jones - Jones appears to be battling it out with Avonte Maddox for the Nickel Corner spot. They shared plenty of time there tonight. Jones appeared to have a better game. He was involved in multiple deep attempts and broke them up. However, he did get juked out of his shoes by Cordarrelle Patterson for a touchdown. Jones made four tackles including one tackle for a loss and successfully defended two passes.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks looked pretty good tonight. He made some solid tackles. Hicks did miss one tackle that led to a 22-yard gain for the Patriots on their opening drive. He is an anchor for this linebacking group and looks ready for the season after missing part of last year due to an injury. Hicks was among the team leaders in tackles with five.
Rasul Douglas - Douglas started in place of Jalen Mills. He made a pair of solid tackles on consecutive plays in the Red Zone to force third down. Douglas played a big role filling in last season when the Eagles suffered several injuries in their secondary. He is looking to take more of a prominent role from the outset this year. Douglas tallied three tackles during his time on the field.
Avonte Maddox - Maddox got the start against the Patriots at Nickel Corner. His timing and recognition was just a touch slow. This was a tough task facing one of the masters of the short passing game in Tom Brady. He eats up defenses on the underneath routes. Maddox finished with two tackles and one pass successfully defended.
Jay Ajayi - Ajayi did not have a great game, but not a bad game either. It is hard to grade some of these players who do not get too many opportunities in the preseason. Ajayi was able to average nearly four yards per carry. He tallied 23 yards on six rushing attempts. Ajayi also caught one pass for 16 yards. He did struggle a bit with his blocking. He got blown up on a bull rush that directly led to a sack.
Nick Foles - Foles did not look good in his first outing since earning Super Bowl MVP honors six months ago. It was either his accuracy that was off or his timing with receivers that was off. He threw a pass behind Kamar Aiken. Foles also sailed a couple of passes high to his receivers. He also did not look comfortable in the pocket taking a sack he didn't need to. Foles had bought an extra second or two and after looking downfield did not just throw it away. Instead he took a sack. He ended his night by getting hit as he went to throw and it resulted in a 54-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Foles suffered a shoulder strain on the play and likely will not play the rest of the preseason. He finished the night completing just three of nine passes for 44 yards.
Offensive Line - The Eagles were without starting Left Tackle Jason Peters. However, their offensive line did not look good. Philly Quarterbacks were under pressure most of the night. The Patriots racked up a total of eight sacks. Halapoulivaati Vaitai whiffed on a block that resulted in a fumble as Foles went to throw and was returned 54 yards for a touchdown. It was on that play that Foles suffered a shoulder strain. The severity of that injury is not yet known as he will undergo further tests when the team returns to Philadelphia. Foles did go into the medical tent but remained on the sideline following that initial examination. Taylor Hart also missed a block in the game that caused Nate Sudfeld to suffer a 13-yard sack in the second quarter.
Matt Jones - Jones did not have a good game at all. He dropped a pair of passes that either hit his face mask or went through his hands and off his face mask. One of those drops bounced right into the hands of the defender for an interception. Jones is possibly feeling the pressure of trying to make this roster as he is in a position battle with Wendell Smallwood. Most of Jones' yards came in the fourth quarter. He finished with six carries for 19 yards. Jones also caught six passes on nine targets for 32 yards.