Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Cardinals
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles are out to their first 4-1 start since 2014 thanks to a dominating 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The offense jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter while the defense smothered the Cardinals attempts to move the ball down the field. Special teams added a huge punt return as well as a blocked field goal.
The Eagles have now scored 20 or more points in nine consecutive games dating back to last season. That is tied for the most since 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons.
Also of note, Carson Wentz topped the 5,000 yard passing mark in his career. He is just the tenth NFL Quarterback since 1970 to do so in their first 21 games played.
It is a short week for the Eagles who have to travel to Charlotte, North Carolina for a date with the Carolina Panthers Thursday night.
In my four years of writing Grayson's grades, this is the best report card issued to date.
Doug Pederson - I have been very impressed with Pederson's opening drive scripts. More often than not they seem to work and get the ball down the field. Pederson's opened the game offensively with a ten-play touchdown drive that went 54 yards taking 5:26. I have also been impressed with Pederson's management of the offense late in the game when they need to eat up clock. His offense ran a 13-play drive that covered 58 yards and chewed up 9:14 in the fourth quarter. That drive ended in a Jake Elliott field goal. I had no issues with anything Peterson did today and continue to see growth in him as a Head Coach.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz had a great game plan against a hurt Cardinals offensive line. He was able to shut the running game down and hold the Cardinals to just 14 rushing attempts for a total of 31 yards. He makes the opponent one-dimensional and forces them to have to make plays in the passing game. His secondary has performed well enough in the midst of some injuries to withstand what the opponents are doing and it continues to work.
Offensive Line - The offensive line has been doing much better with more stability. The revolving door at left guard has settled down with Stefen Wisniewski winning the job. The rest of the line has done better with him in there. As a veteran, he recognizes what the opponent is looking to do more quickly than the younger linemen have been doing so far. Credit goes to Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Jason Peters are playing well right now along with Wisniewski. They are helping the offense lead the league in time of possession. I criticized them heavily at the beginning of the season, but have turned a corner on this unit now.
Carson Wentz - Wentz looked really sharp in this game. He seemingly made all the throws. He hit the slants and underneath passes well and especially delivered on the deep passes. Wentz connected deep more than once with both deep balls going for touchdowns. He also threw a pretty pass in the corner of the endzone where only Trey Burton could haul it in and he did so for a touchdown. Wentz led Zach Ertz nicely over the middle to help him carry his momentum into the endzone for a touchdown. Wentz had a clear command of this game, he moved well in the pocket and escaped it at just the right time. It was an impressive performance for the second-year player who went over 5,000 yards passing. He is just the tenth player in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in the first 21 games of his career. Wentz completed 21 of 30 passes for 304 yards and a career high four touchdowns along with one interception. He also carried it six times for 11 yards.
Kenjon Barner - Barner was not on this team to open the season, but made a big impact in this game. He joined the team after the season-ending injury to Darren Sproles. Barner returned a punt for 76 yards in the first quarter. It set up the second touchdown of the game for the Eagles. Due to the knee injury that kept Wendell Smallwood out, Barner did get some offensive touches. Barner returned three punts for 110 yards. He also carried the ball five times for 23 yards.
Patrick Robinson - Robinson had a very good all-around game. He was in great position to make a couple of interceptions, but failed to bring the ball into his arms. Robinson wound up breaking up both of those passes. He also made a big impact on special teams. Robinson came untouched around the end of the line on a 51-yard field goal attempt and blocked it. Robinson finished tied for second on the team with four tackles and also had three passes successfully defended.
Torrey Smith - Smith was the first Eagles player in this game to take the top off the Cardinals defense. He beat his defender and Carson Wentz hit him in-stride for a 59-yard touchdown. Smith finished that with a nice celebration where Agholor pretended to be the pitcher and Smith was the batter hitting it out of the park. Smith ultimately finished the game with three receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor has been a consistent target for Wentz and is really settling into a rhythm in the slot. His confidence has been high all season and he made a big play in this game. Agholor ran a deep route down the sideline and brought in the pass. After making the catch, Agholor was able to shake off a would-be tackler and make his way to the endzone for a 72-yard touchdown strike. Agholor set a career high for receiving yards in a game. He caught four passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Brandon Graham - Graham was very active in this game. He wrapped up several Cardinals behind the line of scrimmage. Graham also got to Carson Palmer multiple times. He has been a solid leader along the defensive line, especially with Flether Cox out the past couple of games. Graham finished tied for second on the team with four tackles. He also added one sack, three tackles for a loss and a quarterback hit.
LeGarrette Blount - Blount continues to be the heart of the running game right now. He hits a hole and always brings a crowd with him. Rarely does he go down after the first or even second hit on him. Blount broke a couple of nice runs for big gains. His longest run of the game went for 37 yards. He carried the ball 14 times for 74 yards.
Jalen Mills - Mills opened the game with a nice tackle on Chris Johnson holding him to a one-yard gain. He followed that up by closing quickly on a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald and broke it up. Mills also broke up the third down pass on that possession. One of the only blemishes on Mills' day was when he got beat for John Brown for a 13-yard touchdown. Other than that, Mills played very well. He finished tied for second on the team with four tackles and also had three passes successfully defensed.
Tim Jernigan - Jernigan has really done a nice job in the middle of the Defensive Line without Fletcher Cox the past couple of weeks. He seems to be getting more and more comfortable with the defense. Jernigan busted through the line and made a body-slam type tackle on a running back for a loss of one-yard. He finished with a pair of tackles including a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit.
Trey Burton - Burton does not get a ton of opportunities during the course of a game, but he tends to make them count when he does. He had his number called in the red zone and came up big early in this game. Wentz threw a pass in the corner of the endzone where only he could catch it and he did. Burton had to leap, turn his body around in the air and get both feet down before going out of bounds and he did just that. It was a big play that ended the Eagles' opening drive with a touchdown. Burton finished with a pair of catches for 16 yards.
Vinny Curry - Curry had a nice game. His name was called a lot after plays during this one. Curry got to Carson Palmer and took him down once. He was also a factor in helping to stop the run. Curry recorded four tackles including a sack, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit.
Zach Ertz - Ertz is probably Wentz' favorite target. In fact, Ertz was targeted 12 times in this one. He continues to be extremely reliable over the middle of the field for Wentz. Ertz had another productive game and found the endzone once. He caught a Wentz pass and allowed his momentum to carry him through a defender and lunged across the goal line for the score. Ertz caught six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Rodney McLeod - McLeod made some big hits in this game. None bigger than the one right near the end of it. He came streaking across the field and delivered a big hit on J.J. Nelson just before he was about to cross the goal line forcing the ball to come loose and go out of the endzone. That resulted in a touchback and gave the ball to the Eagles. He finished with three tackles, one pass successfully defended and a forced fumble.