Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Raiders
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles gave their fans one last Christmas present Monday night. The Eagles clinched the top seed in the NFC with a narrow 19-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Nothing about this win was pretty. The offense struggled throughout most of the game. The defense had its share of struggles as well. The Eagles also missed a field goal. But somehow this team found a way to win.
Ugly is too kind of a word to describe this game. It is also too kind of a word to describe this report card. Here is the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Chris Long - Long saw more snaps than usual due to an injury during the game to Brandon Graham. He took advantage of those extra snaps. After having a sack called back due to his jumping offsides, he made up for it by sacking Derek Carr and forcing a fumble on third down. That forced an Oakland punt. Long was constantly around the ball and frequently found his way to Carr in the Raiders backfield. He finished with three tackles, one sack, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Jake Elliott - Elliott seems to have a flare for the dramatic. He booted a 48-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 13-10 lead with 22 seconds remaining in the game. But that might not have been as dramatic had he made a 33-yard field goal attempt earlier in the game. He missed it wide right. Elliott finished with two field goals made in three attempts. He added a 35-yard field goal on top of the 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Vinny Curry - I thought this might have been Curry's best game of the season. He appeared to be around the ball nearly the entire night. Curry only recorded four tackles, but definitely made an impact and also helped create pressure and collapse the pocket on Carr. Curry had a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hit, a pass successfully defensed and a forced fumble that was recovered by Rodney McLeod.
Ronald Darby - Darby has not played well the past couple of weeks, but turned it on in this game. He made arguably one of the biggest plays in the game by securing an interception on a low throw late in the fourth quarter. It setup the offense with an opportunity to get into field goal range and win the game. That is exactly what the Eagles did. There was one big negative play by Darby where he committed an illegal contact penalty on a dead play that looked like a solid third down stop. The penalty was obvious and gave the Raiders an automatic first down.
Patrick Robinson - Robinson struggled over the past couple of weeks, but picked his level of play back up in this game. Robinson did a great job of recognizing a ball that fluttered out of Derek Carr's hands and undercut the route by the receiver to pick off the pass. He finished the game with three tackles including an interception and two passes successfully defensed.
Rodney McLeod - McLeod leveled a few solid hits in this game. He also came up with a big fumble recovery giving the Eagles offense great field position. McLeod tallied six tackles, a fumble recovery and a special teams tackle.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins had a huge play in this game during the fourth quarter. The Raiders were driving and looking to take the lead. A run that got the Raiders inside the Red Zone was overshadowed by a great play from Jenkins where he ripped the ball out of Jalen Richard's hands and recovered it. Jenkins finished tied for second on the team with six tackles. He added one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Jay Ajayi - I like Ajayi's running style; however, I am not a fan of the way he carries the ball in traffic. Ajayi needs to tuck the football as tacklers approach. He did not do that on a solid gain and fumbled it away. He had some solid runs in this game. Ajayi also scored his first career receiving touchdown on a screen pass taking it 17 yards and diving into the endzone for the score. Ajayi carried the ball 14 times for 52 yards. He also caught two passes for 21 yards and one touchdown. The fumble is the big reason for the letter grade he earned.
Lane Johnson - Johnson has earned every bit of the pro bowl accolades he received this season. He has been solid. However, he committed two very big holding penalties in this game that negated some big plays for the birds. Consider this just a speed bump on what has otherwise been a great year for Johnson.
Doug Pederson - Pederson's play-calling left something to be desired in my mind. He has shown a lot of growth as a Head Coach in the past two years. Pederson has also done a pretty good job of making adjustments. But, he had a quarterback in this game who was consistently missing his targets high while also struggling with receiving snaps. High throws are a key ingredient in creating interceptions. A great way to help a struggling quarterback in a game is to throw a variety of short passes. Throw screens or short outs and slants. It is also important to mix in run plays more than Pederson did in this game. It was a very unbalanced attack featuring 38 pass plays to just 21 run plays. Pederson must recognize a struggling quarterback and help him out. The offense gained just 216 yards on 61 plays and converted just one of 14 third down attempts.
Jalen Mills - Mills followed up a bad game last week against the Giants with another rough outing. He got burned badly on a double move by Amari Cooper for a 63-yard touchdown. It was the second week in a row that he got beat on a double move. Mills also dropped an easy interception that was floated deep downfield by Carr and hit him right in the hands. Mills finished with two tackles and two passes successfully defensed.
Nick Foles - Foles looked bad in this game. His passes were late. They were also high in many instances. He never got into a rhythm. Foles also showed poor judgement in holding onto a play for way too long and eventually taking a sack for a 16-yard loss on third down. Foles appeared to be trying to get his tight end killed because he threw three passes to Zach Ertz high and resulting in some big hits and incomplete passes. Two of them appeared to be in position for touchdowns. The third high pass to Ertz went off his hands and turned into an interception by the Raiders. Foles also struggled with receiving snaps in this game and dropped several of them. Foles completed just 19 of 38 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown. He also threw one interception. A lot of room to improve for Foles heading into next week's regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.