Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Rams
LOS ANGELES - The Philadelphia Eagles upset the Los Angeles Rams 30-23 and in doing so kept their playoff hopes alive. Quarterback Carson Wentz was ruled out of this game due to a stress fracture in his back. Nick Foles started in his place and played very well.
The Eagles defense also did its job only giving up one touchdown through three quarters. Ultimately they stopped the Rams on the final play of the game to seal the victory.
The Eagles improve to 7-7 overall with two games remaining. Eagles players are certainly enjoying the victory, but quick to point out that a loss next week essentially makes this win meaningless.
Here is Grayson's Grades after arguably their biggest win of the season:
Doug Pederson - Pederson put together a much better opening script that saw the first drive end with points. Jake Elliott batted a 51-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead. However, Pederson elected to go for it on fourth down from about midfield following a turnover. I like the decision to go for it on 4th and a long one or two. However, I hated the play call out of shotgun to give it to Adams against a Rams defense that was stacking the line of scrimmage. I would have rather seen Sproles in the game or a quick screen to Golden Tate to try and get the first down. Pederson called a very balanced game calling 31 pass plays and 30 rush attempts. He has certainly been criticized this season and rightfully so deserves a lot of credit for this victory.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery made several big grabs in this game. He caught a perfectly thrown ball down the sideline for a 26 yard gain to move the chains. He also made a huge catch at the two-minute warning in the first half leaping and adding yards after the catch. It went 36 yards to get the Eagles to the Rams' 24 yard line. Jeffery got behind the defense in the second half and pulled in a 50 yard reception. This was the best game he has had since coming to Philadelphia. He finished with eight receptions for 160 yards. Those are the most receiving yards in his career since 2013 when he had 218 receiving yards while playing with the Chicago Bears.
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood had few opportunities to get his hands on the ball in the past few weeks. He took advantage of his touches in this game. Smallwood carried the ball ten times for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His touchdown runs were hard runs and broke some tackles on his way into the endzone both times. Smallwood's touchdown runs came from distances of nine yards and five yards.
Fletcher Cox - Cox went out of the game briefly while he was evaluated for a hip injury. His return was Questionable. He did return and got a big sack on third down to hold the Rams to a field goal. It gave the Rams a 10-7 lead. Cox had another one of those games where his stats do not jump off the page, but anyone who watched knows he had a big impact when he was in there. Cox finished with three tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins did a great job of getting Todd Gurley down for a four-yard loss on the first play of the game. It helped set the tone on that opening drive. He was heavily involved in helping to stop the run. Jenkins was second on the team with 11 tackles including two tackles for a loss.
Avonte Maddox - Great job to see a route and jump it just enough to come up with a big interception in the second quarter. It gave the Eagles the ball back on their own 42 trailing 7-6. The play was reviewed and Maddox did an amazing job keeping the ball from hitting the ground. Turning the Rams away with zero points on that possession was key at that time in the game. Maddox finished with three tackles, an interception and two passes successfully defended.
Corey Graham - Graham came up with a huge interception late in the third quarter that gave the Eagles the ball deep in Rams' territory. It turned into a Wendell Smallwood touchdown giving the Eagles a 30-13 lead. Goff fell down after the snap and got up trying to get rid of it. He was hit as he moved his arm forward and Graham came up with it for the interception. Graham had three tackles in the game as well as that interception and one pass successfully defended.
Rasul Douglas - Douglas has played very well for the most part since taking over as a starting corner due to injuries to some of the guys in front of him. Douglas has asserted himself as a good tackler in space and made some big tackles in this game. Douglas led the team with 14 tackles. He also had one tackle for a loss. Douglas has been spotted talking a lot with Malcolm Jenkins and it appears Jenkins has taken him under his wing providing him with a lot of great advice.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz deserves a lot of credit for managing to come into LA and see his defense leave with a win. They only gave up 82 rushing yards and held Todd Gurley in check for the most part. He had 48 yards on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came when Schwartz had started relaxing his defense a bit with a two touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. The idea was to try and force the Rams to work underneath and take some yards without giving up big chunks in an effort to run some time off the clock. They had better pressure on the quarterback tonight and did well defending downfield.
Nick Foles - Foles did a good job of extending plays. He was able to either find a man or gain a couple of yards before stepping out of bounds after doing that. Foles threw some nice passes in this game. He hit Alshon Jeffery on a perfectly placed ball down the sideline for a 26-yard gain. He also tried to hookup with Zach Ertz in the endzone in the second quarter on a well-thrown ball that was just knocked away at the last moment by a Rams defender. Foles did an excellent job of standing tall in the pocket and delivering some great deep passes even with defenders barreling at him and knowing he would take a hit. Foles saw Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor behind the defense and chucked it deep for a 50-yard completion to Jeffery. Foles completed 24 of 31 passes for 270 yards and one interception.
Zach Ertz - Ertz finished with three receptions giving him sole possession of third place for most single-season receptions by a Tight End in NFL history. He now has 101 catches this year. Ertz is now ten receptions away from setting a new single-season record. He was the target on a pass that was intercepted. Ertz did not see the Rams defender who got position on him for the ball, which was also thrown a little off target. He caught three passes for 22 yards in the win.
Golden Tate - Tate had just one touch a week ago against the Cowboys. He was more involved in the offense in this game. He had five catches for 43 yards. Tate's longest reception was 11 yards. I still think they need to get him on the field more often, but he did a good job of taking advantage of his opportunities when they were there.
Darren Sproles - Sproles broke off a 17-yard run on third down to move the ball into Rams territory on the opening drive. He was the spark the Eagles needed at times to change the pace of their attack. Sproles carried the ball three times for 30 yards. He also caught three passes for 16 yards.
Jake Elliott - Elliott was working on an 'A' in this game and would have had it if he made his final field goal attempt. Granted, it was a 53-yard attempt, but had he made it all of the drama leading up to the final play would have been avoided and the game would have been all but sealed. Overall, Elliott had a good day. He booted a 51-yard field goal to end the opening drive with three points. He followed that with a 34-yard field goal to end their second drive. Elliott added a 40-yard field goal late in the third quarter to give the Eagles a 23-13 lead.
Michael Bennett - Like Cox, Bennett's stats do not jump off the page at you either. He came up with a big hit on Goff on third down to force an incomplete pass and force a punt on the Rams' first possession of the game. He added another nice hit on Goff later in the game. That was the extent of his stats. However, he seemed to be involved in blowing up the pocket occasionally, which contributed to some of the incomplete passes thrown by Goff.
Josh Adams - Adams struggled at times in this game, but I still like his running style. He had 15 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown. His longest run of the day was eight yards. He only averaged 1.9 yards per carry. Adams battled through a couple of injuries in the game but kept coming back in so those injuries were not serious enough to sideline him.