Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Saints
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles threw a rookie Quarterback into the fire giving Jalen Hurts his first career start against the top defense in the NFL and he delivered a 24-21 win over the New Orleans Saints.
Hurts sparked an offense that has looked inconsistent and frankly awful this season. He and Miles Sanders both rushed for more than 100 yards against a defense that has not allowed a 100 yard rusher in 56 games. Hurts looked composed and confident throughout the game.
Meanwhile, the defense forced multiple turnovers and shutout the Saints in the first half. They also recorded five sacks in the game.
This win yielded the best report card in some time. Perhaps even a report card worth hanging on the fridge. Here is the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Jalen Hurts - What a first career start for rookie Jalen Hurts! I was most impressed by how calm he looked on the field, his overall composure and his decision making. He never appeared to hesitate. Hurts wasted little time making a decision and then tried to make a play. Too often, Wentz appeared to hesitate and delayed making a decision which eventually turned into sacks or misfires. Hurts threw a good ball, bought time when needed, threw it away when nothing was there and took off running when he saw a lane. Was it perfect? No. Was it better than expected? Yes. The biggest knock I can make on the guy is simply, don't fumble it when you are trying to run out the clock. Hurts completed 17 of 30 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball 18 times for 106 yards. Most importantly to me, he breathed confidence into his teammates and elevated their level of play. That's the sign of a leader and a playmaker. This was one game, I realize that. The big question now, can he string another game like that together next week?
Miles Sanders - Sanders needs to get more touches. I'm starting to get tired of saying that. The guy produces so give him a heavier workload and he likely will produce more. He can break the big runs and did break an 82-yard touchdown run in this game. It was the fourth-longest run in Eagles franchise history. Sanders became the first player to rush for 100 yards against the Saints in 56 games. Sanders carried the ball 14 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 21 yards.
Josh Sweat - Sweat has a great motor and seems to be getting off the line of scrimmage better. He seems to show up at key times and make big plays. There was no bigger play than the one he made with the Eagles leading 17-14 and the Saints going for it on fourth down. Hargrave came around the blind side to Taysom Hill and chased him down as he ran away and also forced a fumble which the Eagles recovered. Sweat tallied five tackles, two sacks, one tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
Javon Hargrave - Hargrave is coming on lately. He was nowhere to be found earlier in the year partially due to injury. Now he seems to be getting into more of a rhythm. He applied pressure and came up with two big sacks. Hargrave finished with four tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits.
Offensive Line - The Offensive Line played one of its best games of the year. The biggest stat to me was not allowing a single sack in the game. They also opened holes in the run game and propelled two players to rush for 100 yards in a game against a team that had not allowed a 100 yard rusher in 56 straight games until this one. This offensive line has faced a lot of heat and rightfully so. You also have to give them a pat on the back when they play well and this was a solid performance.
Doug Pederson - Pederson had a good game plan for Jalen Hurts and overall put forth a more balanced offense. I still would like to see Miles Sanders get more touches. He has the ability to break the "big one" and did that in this game. His 82-yard run was the fourth longest rushing play in Eagles history. So give him the ball more and increase the chances he has to break one. Pederson remained aggressive despite the rookie quarterback. I was against the fourth down attempt resulting in the touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery so credit Doug with a gamble paying off there. I liked going for it on fourth and one when Hurts got stuffed on a Quarterback keeper. However, I hated the play call. The Saints were clearly stuffing the box and made the play. Overall, Pederson called a better game and managed his rookie Quarterback well.
Jalen Reagor - Reagor seems to be getting a little more comfortable after returning from his thumb injury earlier this season. He was very productive in his limited touches. Reagor had one carry for 19 yards and added two receptions for a team high 46 yards. That's an average of 22 yards per touch. Perhaps he should get a few more touches and become a little more of the game plan moving forward.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert is getting pretty consistent. He was once again a solid target and even improvised when Hurts got on the run out of the pocket and gave him a place to throw the ball. Goedert caught four passes for 43 yards.
Fletcher Cox - Cox had a more impactful game against the Saints than he had over the past few weeks. He seemed to control and win his matchup more often this week. Cox faced double-teams on nearly every snap and still managed to blow up some plays. He helped to stop the run and even recorded a sack. Cox looked to have more energy in this game and that led to a stronger performance. Cox finished with three tackles, one sack, one quarterback hit and one tackle for a loss. However, his impact typically reaches further than the stats indicate and it did in this game as well.
Darius Slay - Slay struggled the past few weeks against some of the top receivers in the league. He drew another tough assignment today in Michael Thomas. With Slay not at 100 percent health, he still did a decent job of staying with him and not giving up the huge play. Slay did not finish the game due to a head injury, but definitely played much better in this one than he had the last few games. Slay tied for second on the team with six tackles.
Duke Riley - Riley's biggest contribution in this game was something the Eagles have not had much of this season and that was an interception. The pass went off Alvin Kamara and Riley showed great concentration and focus to bring it in for a big turnover. He also did a good job in stopping the run. Riley finished tied for second on the team with six tackles and added one pass defense and one interception.
Alex Singleton - Singleton has been consistent and overall playing well at Linebacker for the Eagles. He had another strong game. The biggest mistake if you can call it that was allowing Jared Cook to catch a touchdown pass over him in the back of the endzone late in the game. Singleton had good position in coverage but lost the battle for the ball. It did not cost them a win but certainly added more drama to a game that looked to be over moments earlier. Singleton led the Eagles with 11 tackles. He also added one Quarterback hit.
Jim Schwartz - I struggled with whether to give Schwartz a 'B' or a 'C' and ultimately settled on a 'C' for the simple fact that this defense nearly squandered a 17-0 lead and nearly blew a ten point lead late in the game. Not all of that was his fault or his defense's fault. Jalen Hurts fumbling when trying to run out the clock definitely stung. I was just stunned by the touchdown catches they allowed to Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook. Don't get me wrong, I liked the overall game plan and the way he seemed to confuse Taysom Hill at times. His defense recorded five sacks in the game. They forced a pair of turnovers. I also realize he continued to lose more and more starters to injury as the game unfolded. It was a promising step towards trying to help this rookie Quarterback play with a lead and with good field position. Hopefully it continues next week.
Jake Elliott - Elliott has missed some key kicks at bad times. He did that in this game booting a 22-yard attempt off the upright just before halftime. Those three points almost cost the Eagles at the end of the game. Elliott has occasionally missed extra points as well. I get missing some long attempts or kicks on a very windy day. This was a chip shot in perfect conditions. No excuse and no way can that happen.
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