Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Redskins
PHILADELPHIA - The playoffs came early for the Philadelphia Eagles. They faced an elimination game Saturday night against the Washington Redskins. A win and the Eagles would keep their NFC East title hopes alive. Instead, the Washington Redskins took home the division crown with a 38-24 victory.
Once again the Eagles could not get out of their own way. Two turnovers and eight penalties along with too many dropped passes prevented the Eagles from keeping their playoff hopes alive.
A game with so much on the line leads to a grading curve that puts harsh marks on unnecessary mistakes.
Sam Bradford - I am slowly starting to buy into Bradford as a long term solution for this franchise. He just needs a little bit of an upgrade on offensive line and at receiver. Bradford did a nice job stepping up in the pocket and delivered some well-thrown passes; however, his receivers dropped several that would have been big plays. Nelson Agholor dropped a touchdown pass. Riley Cooper dropped a long pass from the endzone out to the 50 that would have been a huge play. He is definitely playing much better in the second half of the season than he did the first half. Bradford completed 36 of 57 passes for 380 yards and one touchdown.
Zach Ertz - Ertz was left to roam the middle of the field for most of the night and as a result, he put up some solid numbers. He did drop one or two passes that he will tell you he should have caught. Ertz also fumbled a ball after a nice gain. He finished with 13 catches for 122 yards.
Jordan Matthews - I could not give an 'A' to anyone after losing a must-win game like this. However, Matthews was the closest on offense to earning that grade. He has come on strong here at the end of the season and put together a couple of nice games. Matthews hauled in an eight-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. He also pulled in a 43 yard reception. Matthews finished with six receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Fletcher Cox - As mentioned above, I could not give an 'A' to anyone after this loss. However, Cox was the closest on defense to earning that grade. He deserved the pro-bowl recognition he received earlier in the week. Cox was a beast yet again racking up a pair of sacks in this game. He was second on the team in tackles with seven of them. Cox also recorded two tackles for a loss and had three quarterback hits.
EJ Biggers - I thought Biggers played pretty well starting in place of the injured Byron Maxwell. He had good coverage on several key plays that resulted in pass breakups. Biggers also finished with four tackles. However, he was part of a defense that allowed 365 pass yards and four passing touchdowns.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins had an opportunity to pick off a pass in this game and could not come up with it. Those kinds of turnovers can go a long way towards changing the flow of a game and tipping it in your favor. He did do a nice job when he came up to the line and helped stop the rushing attack. Jenkins recorded six tackles. He was also in the vicinity of a zone coverage on a couple of touchdown passes in this game.
DeMarco Murray - Murray was given more of the workload in this game than he received in recent weeks. He got eight touches and averaged more than five yards per carry rushing the ball. Murray showed some of his power when he took a handoff and fought through a few tacklers to reach the endzone from four yards out. He finished with five carries for 27 yards and a touchdown. Murray also did a nice job as a receiver catching three passes for 24 yards. Murray's biggest blemish is his fumble on a pitchout that he never caught. It was recovered by the Redskins and returned for a touchdown. That is a major mistake in a huge game and in a huge moment of the game. It is unacceptable. Murray admitted afterwards that he took his eyes off the ball.
Ryan Mathews - Mathews had a rough night in his limited touches. He was stopped to the tune of four carries for five yards. The building was roaring when Mathews carried it into the endzone from one yard out on the opening drive. It was a much different atmosphere the rest of the way. Mathews added two receptions for 13 yards in what was predominantly a quiet night for him.
Darren Sproles - Sproles had some bright spots in this game and some dark spots to go along with it. He caught seven passes for 56 yards, but also muffed a punt and was fortunate enough to recover it. Sproles also failed to find much room on the ground carrying the ball five times for just nine yards.
Nelson Agholor - I still believe Agholor will turn into a solid receiver in this league. Unfortunately, he has yet to be a reliable receiver. He dropped a touchdown pass in the endzone that hit him in the hands. It has been a bit of a problem for him. On the plus side, Agholor started the game off by catching a pass and making a defender miss for an 18 yard gain. He also made a nice diving catch in the second half. Agholor does seem to be running better routes as he gets healthier following the high ankle sprain that knocked him out of a few games earlier in the season. Agholor finished with two receptions for 35 yards.
Billy Davis - Davis' conservative play-calling continues to drive me crazy. Rarely does he try to blitz and the game plan here appeared to be very similar to the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season when Kirk Cousins was allowed to stand in the pocket and pick the defense apart. Davis allowed many quarterbacks this season to do that and it flat out is not working. I rarely see adjustments made at halftime to counter what the other team is doing. If not for the job Fletcher Cox does, Davis' defense would look even worse. There are some nice pieces on this defense and others that are relied on way too much and asked to do things that are clearly not among their strengths. Perhaps I was too used to seeing blitzes from Jim Johnson when he was the defensive coordinator, but I like the philosophy of dictating how each down is going to play out rather than just trying to hang on and defend what comes at you.
Chip Kelly - Kelly gets an 'F' for various reasons in this game. Yes, his players dropped passes and committed some bad penalties and that does fall on their shoulders. Ultimately he is the one responsible to have his team ready to play and this team that managed to beat playoff teams like the Patriots and Jets this season failed to take advantage of controlling its own destiny in this game. Kelly did not have his team coached up and ready to play throughout the season and not once did this team play four solid quarters. Kelly is going to have to make some difficult personnel decisions this offseason on the coaching staff. Kelly also needs to show some of his genius and realize opposing defenses have caught on to his scheme. Subtle changes without severely altering his philosophy would go a long way towards likely finding more success on offense. It would also help to find a couple of good offensive linemen and a receiver or two that can consistently catch the ball.
Kiko Alonso - Alonso has been a big disappointment this season. His speed on the field was supposed to be a big asset to the way he plays inside linebacker, but he just has not looked healthy following an early season injury. He has been a step or two behind the receivers he is supposed to be covering. He has also appeared to be a step or two late getting to the hole to meet the running back on some rushing plays. Alonso gave up a 12 yard touchdown pass to a running back early in the third quarter. He was ultimately on the field for way too many plays and it showed. Alonso did lead the team in tackles with eight of them.