Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Bengals
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles hoped a winless Cincinnati Bengals team was on the schedule at just the right time to get their first win of the 2020 season. While they did not win, they also did not lose as the Eagles and Bengals tied.
Carson Wentz struggled and turned it over twice. The defense managed to record eight sacks, but failed to force a turnover for the third straight week. Meanwhile, the typically aggressive Doug Pederson turned conservative and passed up two opportunities to win the game choosing instead to preserve the tie.
It was an ugly game and earned yet another ugly report card for the Eagles.
Here is this week's Grayson's Grades:
Greg Ward - Ward became a steady target for Wentz at the end of last season after injuries decimated the receiving group. He stepped into that role again after DeSean Jackson left the game due to a hamstring injury. Ward caught the only touchdown pass of the game by Wentz down the sideline. He was eventually targeted 11 times and caught eight passes for 72 yards and that touchdown.
Zach Ertz - Ertz looked more like the reliable receiver that Wentz has become dependent on in the past. He presented a solid target and helped move the chains. Ertz made a really nice catch over the shoulder for 30 yards in overtime, but that possession ended with a punt. Ertz caught seven passes for 70 yards.
Miles Sanders - Sanders almost crossed over the 100 yard rushing mark in this game. He started the game with some runs that ate up chunks of yards and at one point in the second half was averaging seven yards per carry. The Eagles did not go to him as much after that, but did try to hit him in the passing game out of the backfield. Sanders had his man beat down the sideline and appeared to have a touchdown if Wentz could have connected with him. However, the pass was overthrown and fell harmlessly incomplete. Sanders carried the ball 18 times for 95 yards. He also caught four passes for 12 yards.
Brandon Graham - Graham was able to get into the Bengals backfield and wreak some havoc. He recorded two sacks and his pressure helped some of his teammates get some sacks as well. Graham looked more like his old self and his motor was running at a pretty good clip coming off the line. He did jump offsides at one point and acknowledged he has to keep that from happening after the game. Graham finished with four tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss.
Derek Barnett - Barnett appeared to be a little healthier than previous weeks and was able to get a good rush on occasion. He got to Burrow and sacked him twice. Barnett is a key part of this defense and needs to create pressure like he did in this game more frequently. Barnett finished with four tackles, two sacks and two tackles for a loss.
Jalen Mills - Mills was asked to do more near the line of scrimmage in this game and made it count. He tallied 1.5 sacks and did a good job of providing support in stopping the run. Mills did get beat a few times in coverage. Tee Higgins first touchdown was against Mills. Mills finished with five tackles, 1.5 sacks and one tackle for a loss.
Fletcher Cox - Cox does not usually light up the stats with his contributions doing more to help others on the line. Cox was able to get a good push and pressure Burrow or force him to get sacked by one of his teammates. He did record a huge sack on third down late in overtime to help the Eagles get the ball back. Cox was also a big part in holding the Bengals to less than 50 yards on the ground. He finished with two tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits.
Malik Jackson - Jackson was another part of the pressure game the Eagles were able to create on Joe Burrow. In fact, he led the team with four quarterback hits. He was able to get partial credit for a sack and frequently let Burrow know who he was and knock him to the ground. Jackson finished with two tackles, half a sack and four quarterback hits.
Darius Slay - Slay did a great job late in the game of helping to create some incompletions. He has been the most consistent and key contributor for the Eagles so far this season. Slay needs to continue to be that consistent player while the rest of his defensive teammates try to get their consistency issues resolved. Slay tied for second on the team with seven tackles.
Jim Schwartz - I give Schwartz credit that he pointed the finger at himself after last week's loss and said his game plan was too simple. He certainly made adjustments and saw his defense record eight sacks on rookie Quarterback Joe Burrow. Schwartz' defense did a good job of holding Cincinnati to just 3-13 on third down conversions. They also held the Bengals to just 48 rushing yards. However, his secondary and linebackers gave Burrow some big windows to throw into and allowed Burrow to get into a rhythm occasionally. This defense has now played 12 quarters and an overtime period without forcing a turnover. Sure, they are forced into defending some short fields due to turnovers by the offense. But they have to be able to take it away and create some short fields in return to help this struggling offense.
Nate Gerry - Gerry led the team with eight tackles. However, for the second straight week he had trouble in coverage. The Rams exposed that and the Bengals fed off it for a touchdown in this game. Gerry needs help on routes down the field. He keeps getting beat in that aspect of the game.
Avonte Maddox - Maddox struggled in coverage and was beat multiple times down the field. He gave up two significant receptions to move the chains for the Bengals. Eventually Maddox left the game with an ankle injury. Maddox made seven tackles in the game, but some of that was due to giving up completions.
Carson Wentz - Wentz once again struggled. He continues to miss open receivers downfield and is not connecting on some of his short or intermediate routes either. Wentz threw two more interceptions in this game. His mechanics continue to look off and is unable to get into much of a rhythm. On the bright side, Wentz did show the ability to scramble once again. He even scored the tying touchdown with less than 30 seconds left after breaking the pocket and diving into the endzone. Wentz is now without his top three receivers after DeSean Jackson exited the game with a hamstring injury. He also lost Tight End Dallas Goedert to an injury. Wentz completed 29 of 47 passes for 225 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. He also carried the ball nine times for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Offensive Line - The offensive line was up and down in this game. Jason Peters got beat multiple times on the edge, Matt Pryor committed a costly penalty on special teams and they allowed Wentz to get sacked three times. That sack total could have been higher if not for Wentz getting away from the rush. They should have been able to run the ball better and got a better push up front. Some of that was due to Pederson getting away from rushing the ball.
Doug Pederson - Pederson went away from his normal aggressive tendency and suddenly became conservative when he could have gambled for the win. After Wentz scored with less than 30 seconds left to make it a 23-22 game he chose to kick the extra point and play for overtime instead of going for two and the win. Then with 19 seconds left, Pederson elected to kick a 59 yard field goal for the win. A Matt Pryor false start backed it up to a 64 yard field goal attempt. Pederson could have tried it for the win or he could have gone for it on fourth-and-12. Either option would have at least tried for the win. Instead, he punted and played for the tie. I understand the risk in missing the field goal or not converting the first down. Both would have given Cincinnati the ball around midfield. However, they would have had about 15 seconds left and no timeouts. It shows no faith in his defense and that the fear of a loss was greater than the gamble for a win. Outside of that, Pederson did not commit to the run as much as I thought he would. The run game lacks creativity, there is little to no attempt at misdirection and failure to get his Quarterback in much of a rhythm. The Eagles go winless in the month of September. Fortunately their division is awful and somehow they are just half a game out of first place.