Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Cowboys
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles opened the second half of their season with a poor showing and a 27-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. It was their third straight loss at home. The Eagles have yet to put together back-to-back wins this season.
The loss to the Cowboys is extremely painful when it comes to the race for the NFC East division title. This loss dropped the Eagles into a tie for second place in the division with the Cowboys. The Redskins hold a two-game lead over both teams.
The defense was once a solid force for this team and played a large part in helping the Eagles win a Super Bowl title last season. However, it is not what it once was and continues to allow a lot of yards and explosive plays to the opponent.
Losing at home to open the second half of the season yields a poor report card. Here is Grayson's Grades:
Zach Ertz - Ertz continued his amazing season with another stat-friendly game. Ertz made more great catches and was there when Wentz truly needed him. Ertz caught a pair of touchdown passes in the second half to keep answering the punches thrown by the Cowboys. He had a chance for a huge catch on fourth-and-seven in the fourth quarter, but the throw brought him back across the first down marker and was just shy of moving the chains. Ertz caught 14 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Jake Elliott - Elliott recorded the Eagles first points of the game when he booted a 56 yard field goal through the uprights. It cut the Dallas lead to 6-3 late in the first half. Elliott added a 26 yard field goal on the Eagles first possession of the second half to cut the lead to 13-6. All five of his kickoffs were touchbacks. He did his part to try and help the Eagles win the game.
Michael Bennett - Bennett continues to show up as the season progresses. He picked up a huge sack on Prescott with the Cowboys driving in the second quarter. It forced a Field Goal opportunity when the Cowboys were inside the five. Bennett sacked Prescott again to start the second half. Prescott did not see him coming and got leveled. Bennett now has 5.5 sacks in his last six games. He finished with a pair of sacks including four quarterback hits.
Carson Wentz - With great field position to start a possession at the Dallas 44 yard line, Wentz did not see the linebacker drop into coverage. The pass intended for Zach Ertz was intercepted and returned to the Eagles 38 yard line. Wentz occasionally appeared to want to force passes into tight coverage and in doing so pass up on a shorter completion with the chance to gain yards after the catch. He did a great job leading the Eagles on a 10 play 68 yard drive to tie the game late in the third quarter. Wentz also led the Eagles on another drive in the fourth quarter to tie it once again. However, his pass to Zach Ertz on fourth-and-seven caused Ertz to come back on the ball and catch it just inside the first down marker resulting in a turnover on downs. Wentz completed 32 of 44 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw one interception in the game.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor had another solid performance for the Eagles. His best grab came in the fourth quarter when he got behind the defense just enough to haul in a 51 yard completion. That helped setup a touchdown by Ertz that tied the game at 20. Agholor remains a reliable slot receiver and took advantage of his opportunities in this game. He had five receptions for 83 yards.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery and Wentz have perfected the back-shoulder throw. They connected on it a couple of times in this game. They nearly collaborated on a touchdown reception, but the pass arrived at the same time as the defender. The Eagles have had their red zone woes and Jeffery needs to be utilized more in that part of the field. Jeffery caught four passes for 48 yards.
Brandon Graham - Graham sacked Dak Prescott on the Cowboys first play of the game. He also met Chris Long at Prescott late in the first half for another big sack. Graham recorded four sacks including 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits. Graham did get those sacks in this game, but continues to be close to even more of them. Graham did a good job of forcing fumbles a year ago in those situations. This defense desperately needs a turnover or two and has not been able to make them happen.
Josh Adams - Right now Adams is the most consistent back. He broke the longest run of the game for the Eagles when he went off tackle and rumbled 29 yards for a big gain. Adams averaged 6.7 yards per carry and had the most carries among the three Running Backs. He racked up 47 yards on seven rushes. The biggest problem for all of the running backs is that they don't get many chances. The Eagles Running Backs only got 14 carries and produced 64 yards between them.
Golden Tate - Tate's debut with the Eagles was average. It is hard to get traded in the middle of the season and get enough of a grasp on enough plays to earn a ton of snaps. His workload will increase as the season continues. However, I expected Tate to get more touches on offense than he did. He caught two passes for 19 yards. Tate will also return punts and get to use his elusive ability to try and record some solid return yardage.
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood's best effort in this game came as a receiver. He was able to turn receptions into some positive plays. Smallwood caught three passes for 30 yards. However, he struggled running the ball. Smallwood had just two carries for four yards. None of the running backs have staked their claim to the primary back. Smallwood has had some opportunities but the running lanes just have not been there enough and he has not been able to make enough guys miss. It appears to be a joint issue between the Running Backs and the Offensive Line.
Doug Pederson - Pederson's offense continues to struggle early in games. They have failed to score in the first quarter seven of nine times this season. That makes it difficult to get into a rhythm. Pederson made a questionable decision in my opinion when he elected to go for it on fourth-and-two from the Cowboys 20. The run play to Adams was stopped for a three yard loss. Kicking the field goal there would have tied the game. Pederson did do a good job when he elected to challenge a play arguing it should have been marked one yard further back. However, the challenge bought the Eagles defense a big break and they went on to hold the Cowboys to a field goal.
Rasul Douglas - Douglas had a tough game. He missed some tackles and got beat on a few routes at key moments on drives to help the Cowboys keep them alive. Douglas gave up a slant to Dan Bailey for a big first down at one point and also missed a tackle on a third down play that would have forced a punt. Instead, the Cowboys kept the drive alive. Douglas finished second on the team in tackles with eight including one tackle for a loss.
Corey Clement - Clement does not look as explosive as he did a year ago. Some of that lends me to question whether he is really 100 percent following an injury he suffered earlier in the season. Clement should be playing more of a role on this offense and his lack of production and opportunities further support the idea that he is not totally healthy. Clement had a chance to break a tackle and move the chains at a critical time in the fourth quarter. He took a screen pass and was dropped for a five yard loss. He finished with five carries for 13 yards. Clement added one reception for negative five yards.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz had his team in great position a year ago to stop the run and control the opponent through the air. It has been a struggle this year trying to contain the opponent. Schwartz had his defense containing Zeke Elliott in the first half. However, his defense failed to continue that in the second half. The Eagles gave up 97 of Elliott's 151 rushing yards in the second half. After getting pressure on Prescott and racking up a few sacks, that pressure faded and Prescott was able to get more into a rhythm. The Eagles appear to be missing more tackles than they did a year ago. That certainly falls on the players to make the plays. Schwartz has to find a way to get this defense back on track. They struggled to get off the field allowing the Cowboys to convert eight of 16 third downs.