Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Panthers
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles let a 17 point lead evaporate in just over a quarter and took what looked like a certain win and somehow turned it into a 21-17 loss. The Eagles dominated the Panthers for three quarters. However, the Panthers needed just one quarter to score 21 unanswered points and win the game.
It will be a long week for the Eagles who travel to London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.
Carson Wentz was magical throughout most of the game. However, he was unable to bring his team back for the win on the final drive of the game.
Meanwhile, the Eagles defense stifled the Panthers offense until they had a 17 point lead and then appeared to call off the dogs. In that time, Newton gained confidence and moved his team down the field repeatedly and into the endzone.
What once looked like a brilliant report card turned ugly in a hurry. Like the Eagles lead, good grades evaporated. Here's the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery has once again emerged as a solid and reliable target for Wentz. As a result, Wentz looked his way frequently in this game. Jeffery made a great catch to get both feet in on fourth-and-five to move the chains. Later, he showed a fantastic double-move to create space and an easy target for a touchdown. The Eagles found a mismatch in Jeffery and used it to their advantage as long as they could. Jeffery finished with seven receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Ertz - Ertz is emerging as arguably the best receiving Tight End in the NFL. He runs great routes and presents himself as an easy and reliable target for Wentz. One of Ertz' best plays did not involve the ball. Eric Reid of the Panthers hit Carson Wentz late after handing off the ball and Ertz stood up for his Quarterback by popping Reid. Both Reid and Ertz were flagged on the play but the symbolism of standing up for his Quarterback was huge. Ertz called this a "Gut-Wrenching" loss and said he "wished they played Thursday night to get this behind them faster." He caught nine passes for 138 yards.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert continues to become more and more of a target by Wentz. He had a solid game bringing in four passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Goedert has been a great addition to the Tight End position and an excellent compliment to Zach Ertz. Goedert not only catches but blocks very well too.
Carson Wentz - Wentz had one of his first passes of the game sail high over Zach Ertz' head. After that he displayed pinpoint accuracy on nearly every throw the rest of the way. He put the ball frequently where only his guys could catch it prior to falling out of bounds. Wentz also made a great throw to Alshon Jeffery who gave him an easy target after a solid double-move on a Panthers' defender. Later in the game, Wentz was alert and dove after a fumble by Corey Clement and continued a drive for the Eagles that ended with a one-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Goedert. That drive covered 94 yards on 17 plays in 9:22. After the Eagles somehow fell behind, Wentz had a chance for a comeback win. On their first play from their own end of the field he went deep and drew a pass interference call on Alshon Jeffery. Then he overthrew Zach Ertz and was lucky an Interception was overturned. On third down Wentz had Smallwood for a first down, but chose to go for the endzone to Jeffery in double-coverage and that fell incomplete. Then on fourth down he got hit and fumbled and that is how the game ended. In my opinion this was one of the better games I have seen out of Wentz in terms of accuracy on his throws. However, that coupled with decision-making was not there on the final drive. He completed 30 of 37 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns. But he also fumbled it twice recovering one of them.
Michael Bennett - Got to Cam Newton quickly and brought him down for a big sack late in the first quarter. Bennett got to Newton again in the third quarter and laid a huge hit on him as he was going to throw. Newton sensed the pressure and threw it away while inside the tackle box and was flagged for intentional grounding. It was a big play by Bennett. He tallied two tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hits.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks made a big play during the portion of the game the Eagles dominated to corral Christian McCaffrey for a seven-yard loss on second down and force a third-and-long that fell incomplete. Hicks tied for the team lead with seven tackles including one tackle for a loss.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins set the tone early with a great pass breakup on a ball intended for Torrey Smith. He timed his leap just right to knock it away. Jenkins did a great job batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage to force a third down on the Panthers final drive. Jenkins tied for the team lead with seven tackles including two passes successfully defended.
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood would have had a much more productive stat line than he finished with due to a pair of very good runs called back because of penalties. Smallwood did a pretty good job of making the most of what he could when it was there. He managed to average three yards per carry and moved the chains a few times. Smallwood rushed nine times for 32 yards. He added two receptions for five yards.
Jake Elliott - Here's another case of Jekyll and Elliott. He missed a 36-yard field goal into the wind. It went wide right. Later, Elliott nailed a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter kicking with the wind. Those missed field goals do change the way the game could be played late. For example, if the Eagles were down one instead of four, they might have won this game with a field goal on that final drive.
Corey Clement - Clement stated after the Giants game that Howie Roseman does not need to trade for a Running Back. He stated the case that he, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams can handle the load. Eventually Darren Sproles will return to the lineup as well. Clement struggled carrying the ball in this game. He had eight carries for just six yards. Clement added two catches for 16 yards. Clement also nearly fumbled the ball away on a key drive that eventually led to a touchdown thanks to Carson Wentz diving on the loose ball before anyone else. Clement has been really good here, so this was not the kind of performance he was use to giving.
Doug Pederson - Pederson came out with three pass plays that went nowhere to open the game. It was a quick three-and-out. Once the Eagles got the ball back, they mixed in a little bit of run and it opened up the passing game in a big way. Carson Wentz got comfortable and had a pretty clean pocket to work with. It led to more than 200 yards passing by halftime. Pederson also converted a pair of fourth down conversions in the first half. He showed a good mix of misdirection on occasion that led to some solid gains as well. Pederson eventually sat on his lead and watched it become a deficit. Now he faces the challenge of trying to get his team to rebound from this collapse.
Jim Schwartz - This was a tale of two different games for Schwartz and his defense. He played to protect the lead and ultimately it worked, but this game got a little too close for comfort in the fourth quarter. Schwartz had confused and frustrated the Panthers throughout most of the first three quarters. With a 17-0 lead, he backed off the coverage allowing the Panthers to move the ball but try and keep the ball in front of the defenders and try to run out some time. It did not quite work out perfectly as the Panthers cut it to a 17-14 game with 4:08 remaining. At the same time, the completions allowed Cam Newton to start building some confidence. Schwartz' defense allowed just 145 total yards through the first three quarters. They gave up 226 yards in the fourth quarter alone along with three touchdowns and a two-point conversion.