Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Rams
LOS ANGELES - The Philadelphia Eagles will leave Los Angeles with a huge win and potentially a big loss. The Eagles clinched the NFC East division title with a 43-35 victory over the Rams. However, they may have lost their starting Quarterback for a significant period of time.
In the third quarter, Carson Wentz left the pocket and scrambled diving into the endzone and taking a big blow from a pair of Rams defenders on his knees. He stayed in the game for two more plays and completed an amazing pass to Alshon Jeffery for a touchdown on fourth and goal. Wentz went to the locker room after that and did not return. All we know at this point is that it is a left knee injury. Head Coach Doug Pederson told the media after the game they will wait to see the extent of the injury until they get back to Philadelphia for further examination.
Wentz was seen leaving the locker room without crutches and a brace on his left knee.
As for the game, this was about as exciting as they come. There were four lead changes in the game with the Eagles ultimately holding on and winning it putting them back on top in the NFC with an 11-2 record.
This was a mixed report card despite the big win over a very talented opponent. Here are Grayson's Grades:
Trey Burton - Burton is undoubtedly overshadowed by Zach Ertz on this team, but has shown that he has great hands himself. He made a pair of amazing catches in the first half for touchdowns. He made those catches in traffic and on one of them, adjusted to the ball in the air in between two defenders for the score. Burton made a bit of a statement catching five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
Jay Ajayi - Ajayi looked like a slightly different running back in this game than he did in previous games with the Eagles. It was almost like he came to Philly a little banged up. He ran hard early and often in this game. Ajayi broke a tackle for a few extra yards. He also hit a hole quickly for a nice gain later that same drive. He appeared to have another gear in both speed and cutting ability in the hole. It led to some solid yardage by Ajayi. He ultimately carried the ball 15 times for 78 yards at an average of 5.2 yards per carry.
Carson Wentz - Wentz threw four touchdown passes in this game finishing with 33 touchdowns on the season. That is a new franchise record for touchdown passes in a season. However, he may not get to throw another one depending on the extent of his left knee injury. As far as the game goes, he showed great composure to lead the team down the field and answer the Rams initial touchdown with one of his own. It was an eight play drive that covered 75 yards and ended with a nice five-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek. He did a real nice job in this game to avoid some of the Rams pass rush and buy some time to find guys open down the field. Wentz led the Eagles down the field on another touchdown drive in the first quarter that covered 88 yards in seven plays and ended with a beautiful touchdown reception by Trey Burton. Wentz later found Burton again on the following drive for another touchdown. Some of the plays that he bought time on and eventually hit his receivers were demoralizing plays for the Rams defense and moved the chains. Credit Wentz with unbelievable toughness. He stayed in the game after taking a brutal hit by a pair of Rams defenders and two plays later threw an amazing touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery on fourth and goal. Wentz finished the game completing 23 of 41 passes for 291 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also ran the ball three times for 16 yards.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery made some huge plays in this game. Perhaps no catch was bigger than the one he pulled in late in the third quarter. It was a low throw by an injured Wentz in the endzone. Somehow Jeffery kept it from touching the ground and the score counted on fourth and goal. He finished with five receptions for 52 yards and one touchdown.
Chris Long - Long came up big for the Eagles at a huge time in the fourth quarter. He got by the right tackle and came up from behind on Goff forcing a fumble that was recovered by Rodney McLeod. It gave the Eagles great field position in Rams territory. Long finished the game with two tackles including a sack, a Quarterback hit and a forced fumble.
Torrey Smith - Smith had a very good game against the Rams. His biggest problem has been consistency week-to-week. He slipped behind the defense and caught Wentz' eye for some big gains. It all helped set up scores for the offense. Smith reached triple-digits. He caught six passes for 100 yards.
Fletcher Cox - Cox once again became a disruptive force at times in this game. He created pressure on Goff and even though he did not get the sack, he did level Goff a few times. Cox ultimately recorded four tackles including three quarterback hits.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor got off to about as bad a start as you can by seeing his first target go off his hands and turn into an interception on the Eagles first drive of the game. It gave the Rams great field position and turned into a Los Angeles touchdown. However, he showed that he has developed a short memory. Agholor went on to have a pretty good game in the stadium where he played college football. Perhaps one of his bigger grabs was in the final two minutes when he caught a low pass just pass the first down marker to allow the Eagles to run off almost all of the remaining clock with the lead. Agholor caught eight passes for 64 yards.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham played a good game. It could have been a great game if he was able to pull in one of the two passes that went right through his hands. He easily could have had two interceptions in this game. Both passes fell incomplete. Despite that, he was all over the field helping to try and stop the run as well as dropping into coverage occasionally. Bradham finished with six tackles in the game including one tackle for a loss and two passes successfully defended.
Brent Celek - Celek played a big role on the Eagles first scoring drive. He drew a pass interference penalty in the endzone. Later that drive he caught a five-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at seven. His stats were not overly impressive but his impact was bigger than it showed in the box score. Celek finished with that one reception for five yards and a touchdown.
Doug Pederson - Pederson ultimately won the game, but left me a little disappointed in some areas of the game. I did not like how he abandoned the run in the middle of the game. This is not the first time that happened this season either. I also disagreed with the running back rotation. LeGarrette Blount was not all that effective today, but Jay Ajayi was. I felt Ajayi should have had some of Blount's carries in this one. I did like that Pederson went for it on fourth and one and converted. I also liked the call to go for it on fourth and goal and he was rewarded with a touchdown late in the third quarter. The general rule in the NFL is not to take points off the board, but accepting a personal foul on a 54 yard field goal made by Elliott allowed the Eagles to run two extra minutes off the clock in crunch time in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, I was disappointed in the play calling and lack of balance. The Eagles ran 51 pass plays and 32 run plays. That was even more lopsided without some of their runs trying to milk the clock at the end of the game.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz does not deserve all of the blame for the success of the Rams offense. He did have players in position to make plays and they simply whiffed on tackles. However, some of the preparation on tackling should fall on him and his staff. I know there is not much hitting during the week, but they do work on proper form when it comes to tackling. As a result, there should not be as many attempts at arm tackles as there were in this game. I liked the times Schwartz chose to blitz and would have thought he might try to do it a little more with a young quarterback like Jared Goff. Ultimately, his defense made big plays when it had to. They gave up 307 yards on 45 plays. That comes out to an astonishing 6.8 yards per play. This defense is too good for that and it must be fixed heading down the home stretch of the regular season.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins struggled in this game. His tackling was poor. Jenkins missed several tackles in this game that led to some big gains for the Rams. He attempted a poor arm tackle on a completion to Cooper Kupp that led to a huge gain for the Rams. Ultimately he finished with three tackles. That is on the lower end of the amount of tackles he typically finishes with.
Left Guard - The Eagles had a problem at left guard during this game. Stefen Wisniewski left in the first half due to injury. Initially, the Eagles put Chance Warmack in. He was not doing a good job to say the least so they brought in Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo also struggled but finished the game. Wisniewski's exit clearly disrupted some of what Doug Pederson wanted to do on offense. It is a problem that must be rectified if Wisniewski is going to be out for any length of time.