Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Redskins
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles took center stage on Monday Night Football with an opportunity to create some serious distance between them and the rest of the NFC East. Carson Wentz showed off his wow ability making several amazing plays en route to a 34-24 win over the Redskins.
The Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 6-1. The win gives them a full two-game lead over the Redskins and the Cowboys in the division. This victory completed a season sweep over the Redskins after winning the season opener in September.
While it ended well, this game got off to a very ugly start. Some of that is reflected in this latest edition of Grayson's Grades.
Carson Wentz - Wentz continues to grow in his second year in the NFL. The game seems to be slowing down for him even more. He is getting a better understanding of when to step up in the pocket and when to try and escape. Wentz delivered a great deep ball to Mack Hollins for a 64-yard touchdown. He hit Zach Ertz downfield a couple of times for some big gains. Perhaps the greatest play of the game by Wentz came on third-and-goal when he had to step up in the pocket and with a guy in his face threw a perfect pass in the corner of the endzone to Corey Clement for a huge touchdown. It was either that one or the play where it appeared Wentz was dropped for a sack on third down, but somehow he came out of a pile and scrambled for a first down. Wentz completed 17 of 25 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns along with one interception. The interception came when Wentz threw it deep for Torrey Smith, but Smith never saw it and it was picked off. He also carried the ball eight times for 63 yards.
Mack Hollins - Hollins is very good at taking advantage of opportunities that come his way. He has great hands and seems to catch everything that hits his hands. He was able to beat his man downfield and bring in a huge 64-yard touchdown. Not only that, but his touchdown dance was entertaining to say the least. That was the only target he got in the game and he made it count. The rookie appears to have a bright future in this league and that is not just my opinion, but the opinion of his teammates.
Zach Ertz - Ertz has been about as steady a receiver as there is in the league. He is reliable and pulls in just about every pass that Wentz throws in his direction. Ertz is so difficult to cover because he goes everywhere. He will run over the middle, he will run routes to the sideline and he will also head downfield. In other words, he is a difficult matchup for any defense. Ertz caught five passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Corey Graham - Graham took advantage of his playing time. He was in the right spot at the right time when Kirk Cousins had his arm hit as he was throwing. The ball went straight into Graham's hands and he returned it 14 yards setting up a very short field for the Eagles offense. Graham also finished tied for second on the team with four tackles.
Derek Barnett - Barnett is slowly getting more and more snaps as he gets more and more comfortable in the NFL. The rookie came up with a big third-down sack on the Redskins second possession of the game forcing a punt. He also came up with another sack in the fourth-quarter. Barnett had three tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor is putting together a very solid season. He made a really nice catch on a slant route. The ball was thrown well out in front of him and he made a fingertip-catch while lunging forward. Agholor also made a great grab on a ball thrown a little high for a 10-yard touchdown reception. He caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Doug Pederson - I thought Pederson called a pretty good game offensively. It all got off to a rough start when the Eagles were called for four penalties in a row on their first possession of the game. I like that Pederson did not go away from the run even though the Redskins were stopping it. However, I do not understand what goes into deciding who to put in at running back on a given play. I do not get why he does not primarily feature both Blount and Smallwood throughout most of the first half. I also do not get why in crunch time he is choosing to give the ball to Corey Clement as opposed to Blount who will hold the ball tight. Clement fumbled late in the game and the Eagles were lucky to get it back. Other than that, I think Pederson deserves a lot of credit for keeping this team grounded. Despite having the best record in the NFL, the Eagles are focused on the task at hand and not getting too high after their great start.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins was flying around the field. He was on Redskins Tight End Jordan Reed occasionally trying to help keep him in check. Jenkins came up with a huge play when he went after Kirk Cousins once he broke the pocket and tried to extend the play. Ultimately it turned into a sack by Jenkins. He led the team with ten tackles. He also added a sack, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham did a great job trying to create pressure on Cousins when he was tasked with getting into the backfield. He hit Cousins as he was throwing the ball and was nearly picked off by Patrick Robinson. Bradham also made a nice play to stop a run for a two-yard loss on first-and-goal from the five-yard line. Bradham recorded three tackles, a tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
Haalapoulivaati Vaitai - Came in for Jason Peters when Peters was carted off with a bad knee injury. Did very well in relief of Peters. Blocked well and handled some of the Redskins pass rush without too much issue. Missed a couple of blocks on some run plays, but overall did a decent job. He will likely be asked to do a lot more in future weeks with Peters likely sidelined for potentially the rest of the season.
Fletcher Cox - Cox was up to his usual act. He drew extra attention in the middle of the defense and eventually broke through on a bull rush to sack Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter. He had some close calls prior to that. Cox finished with one tackle, a sack, a tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
Jake Elliott - Elliott has been nearly automatic since taking over the kicking duties for an injured Caleb Sturgis. Elliott got the scoring started for the Eagles by booting a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter. He added a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Elliott is in fact human though. We found that out when a 45-yard field goal attempt went off the right upright and fell to the ground. He made twelve straight field goals prior to that miss late in the game.
LeGarrette Blount - Blount was ineffective against the Redskins. He did not have much room to run, but did not help his cause when he would give up yards to try and get around the edge. That run in particular went for a loss of seven yards. The Redskins were prepared for Blount and did not let him do to them what he has done to other teams this season. Credit Blount for picking up some yards when he needed them at the end of the game. He hit a hole and broke free for a 21-yard run to help run out some of the clock. Blount carried the ball 14 times for 29 yards.
Wendell Smallwood - This was Smallwood's first game in a few weeks following a knee injury. He had a couple of great runs back-to-back with some solid yards after contact. Other than that, he was unable to find too much running room. Smallwood got eight carries for 25 yards. He also added two receptions for 14 yards.
Najee Goode - Goode started at Outside Linebacker in place of an injured Mychal Kendricks. He got off to a rough start and losing Jordan Hicks to injury early in the game did not make his job any easier. The Redskins exploited the middle of the field through the air, which at times was part of Goode's responsibility. He also blew a coverage assignment in the second quarter that left Chris Thompson wide-open for a seven-yard touchdown. Goode definitely settled down better after that and had a decent second half. He finished tied for second on the team with four tackles.