Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Cowboys
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles laid an egg in their regular season finale with a 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles ended 2017 with a 13-3 record.
Philadelphia has a bye week to look forward to while the Eagles wait to find out who they will face in the NFC Divisional Playoffs either January 13th or 14th.
Head Coach Doug Pederson chose to play most of his starters for a period of this game before sitting them and ensuring their health heading into the postseason.
Limited playing time made grading a little difficult. With that in mind, here is the final edition of Grayson's Grades before the calendar changes to 2018.
Donnie Jones - Jones was clearly the MVP of the game for the Eagles. He was called on early and often as possession after possession required a punt. Jones punted the ball seven times for 299 yards including three inside the 20. Jones perfected the old-fashioned coffin corner putting two punts inside the 10 and one inside the five-yard line that bounced out of bounds just before reaching the pylon.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz deserves a lot of credit for a defensive performance featuring most of his backups taking on the Cowboys starters. It was an impressive performance to contain the Cowboys for most of the game. The only blemish on the defense was a 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter that broke a scoreless tie. Schwartz will take that performance into what will likely be a job interview this week with the New York Giants for their Head Coach opening.
Chris Long - Long has been a great addition to this team both on and off the field. His presence in the locker room is noticeable. His presence on the field has also been noticeable. Long did not play the entire game while getting some rest to preserve his health heading into the playoffs. He did play enough to have a small impact. Long recorded six tackles including a nice quarterback hit on Dak Prescott.
Nate Sudfeld - Sudfeld showed positive signs in this game. He stood tall in the pocket, surveyed the field and made some nice throws. Sudfeld also held the ball on a blitz and got leveled. Nobody expected him to come into this game and look perfect. He clearly will have great tape to watch and learn from after this experience. Ultimately, not a terrible day for Sudfeld.
LeGarrette Blount - Blount carried the ball nine times for 37 yards. It was enough yardage to take him over 750 rushing yards for the season. That kicked in a $300,000 incentive bonus. Blount started out the season strong for the Eagles, but lacked the kind of production later in the year that he had been racking up earlier in the season. Some of that was due to the arrival of Jay Ajayi. Blount also caught one pass for 11 yards.
Sidney Jones - Jones made his NFL debut in this game. His future is expected to be very bright after returning from a torn ACL suffered about nine months ago. Jones had a ton of energy coming into the game and it was good to see him on the field. His timing was a bit off and the speed in recognizing a cut was also a little off. All of that comes with experience. This game was big for him to begin the process of getting game action and film to review. He missed an opportunity to drop Dez Bryant short of the first down marker by taking a bad angle at one point in this game. He also left the game due to cramping.
Doug Pederson - I agreed with the decision to play the starters with a bye week coming up before postseason play begins for the Eagles. However, I felt they should have remained in the game after failing to put together anything close to resembling a sustained drive throughout the first quarter. Instead, Pederson pulled the starters and started inserting backups. Yes, he kept his starters healthy heading into the postseason. However, they did not leave the regular season with any kind of momentum or confidence. I like how Pederson managed the week for the players with a couple of walkthroughs and no hard or intense practices. They did not game plan for the Cowboys and all of that is understandable. At the end of the day, it would have been nice if the offense went into the bye week on something close to a roll.
Nick Foles - Foles did not show much improvement if any from last week's poor outing against the Raiders. Foles stayed in the game through the first quarter but missed receivers badly. He was a victim of a drop on their opening possession by Torrey Smith. Had Smith caught it, that pass on third down would have moved the chains and kept the drive alive. Other than that, the mistakes were all on Foles. Accuracy was lacking as well as another fumble on a shotgun snap. Ultimately, Foles heads into the postseason four of 11 passes for 39 yards and one interception. On the interception, he did not come close to putting enough on the ball to get it downfield where Alshon Jeffery was open. It was under thrown and an easy interception for the Cowboys.
Torrey Smith - Smith continues to be inconsistent. He was open and Foles delivered a perfect pass on third down during the Eagles opening drive and Smith dropped it. It would have moved the chains and continued the drive. He was targeted three times and finished with zero receptions. The drop was his biggest blunder. The other targets were bad throws by Foles.