Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Dolphins
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles had a golden opportunity to move above .500 for the first time this season. Instead, the Eagles gave up 17 unanswered points to the Miami Dolphins to lose 20-19 at home.
The Eagles got off to a quick start jumping out to a 16-3 lead in the first quarter. The scoring stopped after that with a comedy of errors that allowed the Dolphins to get back in the game and ultimately leave Philly with a win.
The Eagles missed a field goal, had a punt blocked and gave up a touchdown on a jump ball for the second straight week. It was the perfect recipe to a costly loss in a division that remains completely up for grabs.
Here are this week's Grayson's Grades:
(Listen to Grayson's Grades Segment on the Sports Bash)
Brent Celek - Celek must have had his invisibility cloak out in this game because the Dolphins refused to pay attention to him as a receiver. He is sure-handed and has very few drops in his career. Bradford hit Celek for a 60 yard gain on the Eagles first offensive play. He went back to him several more times for some big plays. Celek had three receptions for 120 yards by halftime. He finished the game with four catches for 134 yards.
Sam Bradford - Bradford started the game on fire. He completed his first five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. He added to his yardage total into the third quarter before suffering a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game. X-rays on his non-throwing shoulder were negative; however, he was ruled out for the rest of the game. Bradford moved around in the pocket and bought more time very well in this game. He created throwing windows to hit his receivers and appeared to be more comfortable in the offense. Bradford completed 19 of 25 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown. He did get beat up in this one as he was sacked four times before eventually getting knocked out of the game.
DeMarco Murray - Murray went over 100 total yards again. His rushing yardage featured no huge gains and finished averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. He does appear to be hitting the holes better, but he has yet to realize that he is not productive when he stops and tries to start again. Murray carried the ball 22 times for 61 yards. He also caught six passes for 58 yards. Murray did have a costly drop on the Eagles last possession that would have created a much easier fourth down opportunity.
Zach Ertz - Ertz came on strong in the second half and looked to be a favorite target of Mark Sanchez. Ertz made some key catches at times in this game to help move the chains. He finished with seven receptions for 68 yards. He and Celek combined to give the Tight Ends 202 receiving yards in this game.
Walter Thurmond - Thurmond delivered arguably the biggest hit of the game when he leveled Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the endzone jarring the ball loose and out of the endzone for a safety. He has been a solid offseason signing and has helped to sure up the secondary. Thurmond finished with six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a quarterback hit.
Byron Maxwell - Maxwell played a solid game. His name was not called much, which is a good sign. He had good coverage and did a nice job deflecting a pass in the first quarter. Maxwell finished the game with three tackles.
Mychal Kendricks - Kendricks was flying around on defense. He caused some havoc in the Dolphins backfield when he had the chance to try and get back there. Kendricks recorded six tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
Fletcher Cox - Cox is the key to any success the Eagles have on defense. Numerous times in this game he pushed an offensive lineman back towards Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill causing him to move in the pocket or forcing him to alter his throw. Cox tallied five tackles, half a sack and was credited with three quarterback hits.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor missed the last three games due to a high ankle sprain. He returned and caught every pass thrown his way. It was a positive sign for the first round pick who struggled prior to his injury. Agholor caught three passes for 32 yards. It is time for Agholor to take the next step and become a playmaker. He is making the plays that come his way, but he has to go a step further and make some big plays to help this offense.
Mark Sanchez - Sanchez had his ups and downs in this game. His handoff exchanges with DeMarco Murray were ugly to put it kindly. He did get creative and extend plays that ended in nice gains, but he also threw a red zone interception when the Eagles needed just a field goal to take the lead. It was a bad decision to throw it and even worse decision for Chip Kelly to let him throw it there. Sanchez threw three passes to receivers who did not look for the ball. I understand that is not entirely his fault, he expects them to turn as the ball is being delivered. Sanchez finished the game completing 14 of 23 passes for 156 yards and one very costly interception.
Jason Kelce - Kelce has had issues with his snaps at times this season and that once again was an issue in this one. He had a horrible snap over Bradford's head at one point. There were also other questionable snaps in this game by him as well. Kelce did get outside on a couple of running plays to help pave the way, which is one of his strengths. Overall, he and the rest of the offensive line must do a better job.
Caleb Sturgis - One week after earning an 'A', kicker Caleb Sturgis gets a 'D'. Sturgis must make a 31 yard field goal when the snap and hold were perfect. He pushed it just right of the upright and ultimately the Eagles lost by one point to Sturgis' former team. I understand that not every kicker is going to be perfect, but from that distance it should be automatic.
Chip Kelly - Kelly deserves some credit for the opening drive touchdown. The Eagles went three and out in five of their first eight games on their opening possession. It became highly predictable that they were going to run DeMarco Murray left or right twice and then pass on third down. Kelly called a pass play that Bradford and Celek ran to perfection. It went 60 yards and the Eagles were in the red zone after just one play. Kelly's play-calling late in the game was highly questionable. With Mark Sanchez in for an injured Sam Bradford, Kelly allowed Sanchez to run numerous pass plays that did get the team inside the 10 yard line. A field goal would have given the Eagles a lead with less than five minutes to go. Three running plays and kicking a field goal seems like the logical choice there. Kelly elected to allow Sanchez to put the ball in the air and Sanchez threw into a sea of defenders resulting in a backbreaking interception. I have also been discouraged by the lack of discipline on special teams. Kelly is known as paying close attention to detail on special teams, but for the second time this season his team allowed a blocked punt.