Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Saints
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles never trailed and dominated the New Orleans Saints 40-29. The Eagles had a 33-7 lead going into the fourth quarter and got conservative allowing the Saints to close the gap before ultimately putting it away.
The win is the first for the Eagles at home this season. It also marks the first time they have won back-to-back games this year. Jalen Hurts became the first quarterback in franchise history to score three rushing touchdowns in a game.
Credit the Eagles defense with setting a tone early. They forced three turnovers in this one. Darius Slay recorded a pick six for the second week in a row. The Eagles improve to 5-6 overall. They are now just half a game out of a playoff spot.
Plenty of good grades to report. Here is the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Jalen Hurts - Hurts passing stats are not always the most impressive, but he makes up for that with the threat his legs bring to an opposing defense. He is the first quarterback in Eagles franchise history to rush for three touchdowns in a game. The Saints clearly had trouble deciding how to defend Hurts' rushing ability. Hurts made some big plays in this game both through the air after extending some plays as well as with his legs. There was no bigger play than in the fourth quarter when Hurts planted his right foot and changed direction totally causing a defender to fall out of the way. That play ended with Hurts scoring his third touchdown of the game. Hurts completed 13 of 24 passes for 147 yards. He also carried it 18 times for 69 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensive Line - The offensive line did an outstanding job of paving the way for the rushing attack. The Saints came into the game with the top ranked rush defense in the league. The Eagles gashed them for 242 rush yards. Jason Kelce was all over the field blocking guys into the next level of the defense. Jordan Mailata was frustrating several Saints defenders. Credit Landon Dickerson with growing throughout his rookie year and becoming a solid part of that line. Jack Driscoll and Lane Johnson also did a great job in this one.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert signed a contract extension earlier this week and followed it up with some nice plays. He made a great catch on a third down to move the chains where the ball stayed right in his fingertips. Most people would not have had the strength in their hands to hold onto that one, but he did and secured a first down in the process. Goedert is clearly a fixture in this game plan as he should be. He nearly had a touchdown in the first half that could have been challenged. Instead the Eagles hurried up to the line of scrimmage and Jalen Hurts scored on a quarterback sneak. Goedert caught five passes for 62 yards.
Darius Slay - Slay had a pick six for the second week in a row. He read the play perfectly and broke on the ball before the receiver. It was helped by a good pass rush forcing Trevor Siemian to release it earlier than he wanted. Slay is making big plays as his nickname suggests and asserting himself as one of the key players on that side of the ball. He left this game early due to an injury. Slay finished with one tackle, one tackle for a loss, two passes successfully defended, an interception and a touchdown.
T.J. Edwards - T.J. Edwards was in the right spot at the right time throughout this game. He recovered a fumble and also intercepted a pass. Edwards is becoming a reliable linebacker for Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon. He led the Eagles with ten tackles including a tackle for a loss and two passes successfully defended.
Fletcher Cox - Cox did not light up the stat sheet but he was a key player in generating a pass rush as well as helping to stop the run. Cox's biggest contribution was forcing a fumble on third and short. He punched it out of Mark Ingram's hands and it was eventually recovered by T.J. Edwards.
Jordan Howard - Howard has played a big role in the rushing surge by the Eagles over the last few weeks. Miles Sanders returned but Howard still got his touches. Howard provided a solid spark at one point rattling off several long carries to help move the chains multiple times on a drive. He got hurt and knocked out of the game in the second half, but still put up great numbers. Howard carried the ball ten times for 63 yards.
Jonathan Gannon - Gannon has received plenty of criticism this season. But I saw steps forward in this game. I saw a Defensive Coordinator calling plays that showed he trusted his players. It feels like that might have been the biggest missing piece, just faith from the Coordinator in his players to execute more complex plays. There was more blitzing in key moments and most importantly I saw the defense disguising blitzes much better. Gannon called a good game and his players made plays. I don't hold Gannon totally accountable for the points allowed in the fourth quarter. The Eagles offense was going three and out and allowing the Saints to have great field position on multiple possessions. That is not to say the defense was innocent because they were not. Some of those touchdown plays should never have happened. Ultimately Gannon's defense forced three turnovers including a pick six. Winning the turnover battle usually translates into winning the game.
Jake Elliott - Elliott deserves a lot of credit because as the offense stalled out, he delivered points on the scoreboard. Elliott was a perfect four-for-four on field goals in this one making kicks from 50, 37, 33 and 47 yards. He was also four-for-four on extra point attempts. He is now third on the Eagles all-time scoring list with 478 points. Elliott trails just David Akers and Bobby Walston.
Nick Sirianni - Sirianni once again let the running game carry his team to victory. My only criticism is that he got too conservative in the fourth quarter and allowed the Saints to start getting back into the game. I do give him credit for admitting that in his postgame interview. On the plus side, I appreciate the confidence he showed in the run game going up against the top rushing defense in the league. He let his offensive line continue to dominate the line of scrimmage and as a result the Eagles controlled time of possession and continued to put points on the scoreboard. After a slow and difficult start to the season, Sirianni seems to have a team that is buying into his dog mentality. They are playing hard for each other and there is a swagger starting to develop. They need to find a way to keep that rolling through the remainder of the season. Credit Sirianni for keeping this team together. They are very much alive for a playoff spot.
Miles Sanders - Sanders returned from Injured Reserve and had a good game. The only negative was a big one. He fumbled deep in their own territory. It led to a Saints touchdown just a few plays later. Other than that, Sanders was moving the ball. He carried it 16 times for 94 yards. His longest run went for 25 yards.
DeVonta Smith - Smith continues to be a solid target for Hurts. He did not have quite the impact in this one that he has in recent weeks but still made some good catches when the team needed it. Smith was targeted six times and caught four passes for 61 yards.
Avonte Maddox - Maddox signed a contract extension this week and played well here. He has really solidified himself as a reliable nickel corner. He plays well in the slot. Maddox had one big blemish and that was when he got beat over the middle for a 26-yard touchdown by Marquez Callaway. Maddox finished with two tackles, two passes successfully defended and a quarterback hit.
Steven Nelson - Nelson is a good compliment opposite Darius Slay. He gets picked on more than Slay but typically does a good job of defending passes. He was slow to turn around and play the ball on one of those in this game and as a result was flagged for pass interference. Nelson finished with three tackles and one pass successfully defended.
Alex Singleton - Singleton is settling back into a role he seems comfortable playing. I have not seen him asked to cover too many receivers far from the line of scrimmage. That is definitely a weakness for him and was taken advantage of by opponents. Singleton finished with six tackles, one pass successfully defended and one quarterback hit.