Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Vikings
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles snapped a two-game losing streak by taking down the only remaining unbeaten team in the league. The Eagles made Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford look awful in a 21-10 victory at the Linc.
A wild first quarter featured a total of five combined turnovers. The Vikings started two drives inside the red zone and came away with zero points due to a pair of turnovers forced by the Eagles.
The Eagles and Vikings combined for eight turnovers. The birds forced four turnovers and sacked Bradford six times in a dominating victory. Plenty of good grades to go around, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz clearly outcoached Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. His front four dominated the line of scrimmage and rattled Sam Bradford early and often. Schwartz also called a few more blitzes than he has before and the Vikings seemed unprepared for those. Perhaps the most impressive part of the defensive performance was that two first half possessions for the Vikings began in the red zone and the Eagles forced turnovers in both instances and held the Vikings scoreless on those two possessions. Then with a 15 point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles held the Vikings on fourth and one creating another empty red zone possession. It was an impressive defensive performance for Schwartz and company.
Doug Pederson - Pederson made some big gambles in this game that paid off for him and his team. He made a gutsy call to go for two-point conversion after a roughing the kicker call on the extra point. The conversion was good and set an early and aggressive tone for his team. Pederson later went for it on fourth & two and converted with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. This team needed a big bounce back win at home and definitely got it. Also credit Pederson with helping to clean up the mess of penalties that plagued this team in the past two weeks. They committed 27 penalties in their previous two games, but had six penalties called against them against the Vikings. That is still a bit too much, but a lot better than it had been.
Defensive Line - I had to group the defensive line together for an 'A' grade because it was a joint effort to dominate the line of scrimmage. They were frequently in the backfield and harassing Sam Bradford in passing situations. Fletcher Cox did what he does best and created havoc up the middle. He finished with two tackles, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit. Beau Allen did a solid job filling in for the injured Bennie Logan. He racked up three tackles, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery. Brandon Graham was getting in Bradford's face as well. He got to Bradford as he was throwing the ball one time that directly led to an interception. Graham accounted for three tackles, a sack, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Connor Barwin did his part to join the party in the backfield. He got to Bradford and recorded a sack while forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Eagles. Barwin finished with four tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks appears to be gaining confidence and returning to the form of his rookie season a year ago. He is quick to attack the ball and helped set the tone following the Eagles kickoff return for a touchdown. On the first play following that touchdown, Hicks shot through a gap and recorded a big tackle for a loss. He also sacked Sam Bradford early in the third quarter. All total, Hicks finished as the leading tackler on the team with 11 tackles. He also recorded one sack, three tackles for a loss, a quarterback hit and two passes defended successfully.
Rodney McLeod - McLeod had a great game. He was all over the field making plays. McLeod came up with a big interception in the endzone to hold the Vikings scoreless in the red zone. He also recorded a sack and forced Bradford to fumble the ball in the second quarter. All total, McLeod finished with seven tackles including one sack, an interception a pass defended successfully and a forced fumble.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham had a solid game helping to shutdown the run and create pressure on Bradford. After struggling last week, Bradham definitely returned to form and was flying around the field. He accounted for seven tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss, two quarterback hits and a pass successfully defended.
Josh Huff - I have been one to criticize Huff frequently, but when his team needed a big play he delivered. Huff took a kickoff immediately following a Vikings field goal and sprinted 98 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles never trailed after that. Huff also made some nice plays on offense catching four passes for 39 yards. Carson Wentz called Huff a "dynamic player" after the game.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai - Vaitai rebounded in a big way from his awful performance in his first career start last week. He got out of the gate slow by committing a false start on the second offensive play of the game. Vaitai settled down after that and really did a pretty good job. As a result, the run game finally got going and Wentz was allowed some time to throw the ball. It was a much needed sign of improvement in a game the Eagles really needed to win.
Dorial Green-Beckham - DGB caught his first touchdown as an Eagle. It was a five-yard touchdown reception where he barely crossed the goal line. That touchdown gave the Eagles a two-possession lead. DGB has worked his way into the starting lineup and is expected to get more opportunities in the passing game as the season progresses. He was targeted four times, but finished with two receptions for eight yards. The Eagles need to get more production out of him, especially in the red zone where his height and size advantage should be utilized.
Ryan Mathews - Mathews once again fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter. It cost the Eagles an opportunity to win the game at Detroit. Fortunately, they had an 18 point lead when he coughed it up this time. Mathews must hold onto the ball better. On the positive side, he continues to have a solid yard-per-carry average. Mathews rattled off a 20-yard run into the red zone in the first half. He finished with 14 carries for 56 yards. He also caught one pass for 27 yards. Not a bad game, he just needs to hold onto the ball.
Carson Wentz - Wentz got off to a very rocky start. He admitted he forced a throw into double coverage that was picked off in the first quarter. Wentz also fumbled an exchange with Darren Sproles. All of that took place in the first quarter. He later threw another interception. Those turnovers can be costly and he got lucky that his defense bailed him out multiple times. To Wentz' credit, he settled down and managed the game well after that. He made some heads up plays including throwing in a hard count and drawing the Vikings offsides when the Eagles were backed up to their own two yard line. Wentz frequently changed the play at the line of scrimmage. To sum it up, he looked like a rookie in the first quarter and a veteran for the remaining three quarters. Wentz completed 16 of 28 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also carried the ball five times for six yards. It may not sound like much, but he rushed one yard for a two-point conversion and also carried it successfully on fourth and two to move the chains.