Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs Colts
PHILADELPHIA - All eyes were on the return of Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz. He played in his first game since December 10, 2017 and brought a lot of sunshine to an otherwise rainy Sunday in Philadelphia.
Wentz helped lead the Eagles to a 20-16 win in his return, but could not do it all himself. The defense also played a significant role holding the Colts to Field Goals after some costly turnovers by Wentz deep in his own territory.
Overall, this proved to be a pretty solid report card for the Eagles. Here is the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood showed signs of the kind of Running Back that he was in college at West Virginia University. He had good power and moved the pile for some solid yards after contact multiple times. Smallwood also appeared to have a little more speed than he has in the past. In addition, one of his biggest plays was a nice catch down the field when hauled in a pass for a 34 yard gain. Smallwood carried the ball ten times for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 35 yards.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert had a coming out party. The Tight Ends were targeted frequently by Wentz in this game and Goedert was one of the beneficiaries of that. He was left all alone in the end zone on the Eagles' first possession of the game and hauled in a 13-yard touchdown reception. Goedert had key grabs throughout the game that helped the offense move the chains. He led the team with seven receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. His development and evolution could lead to more flexibility with how the team uses Zach Ertz in the future to help create more matchup problems for opposing defenses.
Zach Ertz - Ertz went back to being a frequent target for Wentz. He was part of a ton of targets for the Tight Ends. Ertz was able to make a few catches in space and tack on some yards after the catch. He pulled in five receptions for 73 yards.
Derek Barnett - Played with great speed and was aggressive at the point of attack. His biggest play of the game was right near the end of it when he got just enough of Andrew Luck to sack him on fourth-and-goal. Barnett did a great job of crashing down the line on several run plays to help stop the ground attack by the Colts. Barnett tied for second on the team with five tackles. He also led the team with one-and-a-half sacks resulting in losses equalling 19 yards. Barnett added a pair of tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits. It shows the growth Barnett has made as a former first-round pick early in his second season in the league.
Michael Bennett - Bennett had a great start to this game. He hit Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck on a third down stop to end their first possession. Bennett followed that up by hitting Luck's arm as he tried to pass forcing a third down incompletion on their second possession. Bennett's play and impact was far more impressive than his final stats as he continues to rotate in and out on that Defensive Line. He finished with one tackle and one pass successfully defended.
Fletcher Cox - Cox was once again a steady and solid player in the middle of the defense. He showed great ability to shed blocks and help stop the running game. The Colts could only manage 68 yards on the ground. Cox also combined with Barnett for a sack on Luck. He finished with four tackles, half of a sack, one tackle for a loss and one Quarterback hit. Cox now has three sacks through the first three games this season. He also moved into a tie with Seth Joyner for eighth in franchise history with 37 career sacks.
Jalen Mills - Mills had a really good game. His coverage was pretty good and perhaps his tackling was even better. Mills made a nice tackle on a pass in the flat to prevent the receiver from going anywhere and holding him to no gain on the play. He made another nice tackle just before the two minute warning diving at the feet of a receiver in the flat and taking him down for a loss of one yard. Mills also made a nice play to break up a pass in the end zone. He timed his jump and contact with the receiver well to avoid drawing a penalty on the play. Mills finished tied for second on the team with five tackles. He added one tackle for a loss and two passes successfully defended.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks importance on this team is typically overshadowed by some of the names on the Defensive Line. However, he relays the calls in the game and audibles accordingly when needed. He was all over the field in this one and made the first two tackles of the game. Hicks led the team with eight tackles and tied for the team lead with two passes successfully defended.
Carson Wentz - Wentz began this season in about the same fashion he ended the last one. He led the Eagles on a 12-play drive covering 79 yards and ending with a touchdown pass to Dallas Goedert. Wentz completed five of seven passes on that opening drive for 55 yards. Wentz did a fantastic job of looking off the safety leaving Goedert alone in the end zone and an easy target for the score. Wentz took some hits in this game but popped right up each time. He also looked great moving around in the pocket and escaping pressure a few times. Wentz made good decisions when it came to avoiding taking unnecessary hits. It was not a perfect day for Wentz. He failed to see a Linebacker undercutting a route to Ertz and the result was an interception deep in Eagles territory. Wentz also fumbled the ball on his own 13 in these wet conditions. It appeared to slip out of his hands as he was about to do a pump fake. However, when the Eagles needed a drive late in the game, Wentz obliged. He led them on a 17-play drive going 75 yards and taking 11:18 off the clock in the fourth quarter. That drive ended with a Smallwood four-yard touchdown run. Multiple players mentioned the importance of having his leadership back in the huddle and on the field. It clearly made just enough of a difference in this game. Wentz finished with 255 yards passing and one touchdown while throwing one interception. He also had a fumble. Wentz added three carries for 10 yards with all of that coming as a result of getting flushed out of the pocket.
Doug Pederson - Pederson had a great opening script getting his offense to complete a 12-play drive covering 79 yards and ending with a touchdown. It was a great mix of runs and passes with no easing Wentz back into action. He had his best player on the field and let him do what he does best. Pederson had the team come out playing an uptempo style. Pederson had a nice Running Back rotation in a game that did not include Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles who were both nursing injuries. He relied on a lot of Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement who combined to carry the ball 26 times for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Jake Elliott - Elliott missed a field goal for the second straight week. He missed a 55-yard Field Goal by hooking it left of the upright. It had plenty of distance but kept moving left and ultimately missed. It is hard to penalize a guy for a missed field goal from 50+ yards out, but in the NFL and on a contender, it must be made. Elliott did make Field Goals from 33 and 24 yards out. He also booted a pair of extra points.
Corey Clement - Clement had a good game, but earned this grade due to his muffed punts. He was credited with muffing two punts, but in reality he muffed three. The first he bobbled and then caught. Two others were muffed and hit the ground. Clement was lucky enough to quickly pounce on them and avoid turning it over. He has to field them cleanly. A muffed punt and turnover can break the back of a team and decide a game. However, Clement was excellent on offense. He touched the ball 19 times for a total of 75 yards. Clement and Smallwood were complimentary backs to each other with different styles of running the ball. Clement had 16 carries for 56 yards. He added three receptions for 19 yards.