Grading the Eagles opening four games: Offense

And just like that we’re a quarter of the way into the NFL season. Perhaps the expectation was too high for the Eagles this season with media sources around the world predicting big things. Either way, for die hard fans the opening four games have been disappointing. But has there been any positive to take? We grade every position over the course of the opening four games to take a closer look into a 1-3 Eagles team.

Quarterback:
This is an interesting one. Whilst most outlets are quick to criticise Sam Bradford, we’re not so sure. The only “bad” game he really played was against Dallas where he look frightened and played way too cautiously. For Eagles fans it was the biggest game of the opening four which didn’t sit too well at all. An inconsistent Falcons performance was matched with similar yet more efficient outings against the Jets and Redskins however there are definitely signs of improvement. He hasn’t thrown an interception in two games..something that’s key for a team who turned the ball over 36 times last season.

Remember when McNabb came back off an ACL? It took at least seven games to get back to his prime and now that Bradford has finally began to throw the ball deep down the field, things are certainly looking up. Three deep pass touchdowns against the Redskins however weren’t enough to seal a win. But you have to give him credit. He’s playing behind an Offensive Line that is leaking like a sieve, he’s taking big hits and getting straight back up and his receivers have now dropped a total of 15 passes on the season.

For now, we’re not 100% sold on Bradford as the leader that the Eagles need, but we are sold on the trade for Nick Foles. He’s adjusting to the system a little slower than expected but he’s finally building chemistry with his receivers..it’s just ironing out the slow starts since the Eagles are yet to score a touchdown in the first half this season.

Grade: C-

Running Back:
There’s a few words you could use to describe the running game this year but an accurate one is woeful. DeMarco Murray has had 29 carries for 49 yards this season. Last year he had just seven games where he had below 29 carries..so evidently he’s not happy. In week one it was almost invisible, Bradford ended up throwing 51 times…but the problem is that like we alluded to two days ago, Chip Kelly insists on running the ball out of the shotgun when Murray is at the helm as it’s similar to how he played in Dallas. But we do not have the Dallas O-Line which means he is constantly hit for yardage losses. We thought this might change against the Redskins and for a very small percentage of snaps it did….but when running an E/W style with Mathews, the gains were much bigger..further cementing that this O-Line cannot force the holes Murray needs to punch through.

Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles have been impressive when in possession however. Mathews had 100 yards rushing last week whilst Darren Sproles claimed NFC Special Teams player of the week. It seems that as the season has gone on and DeMarco injured his hamstring, Chip went back to basics and it worked. He replaced LeSean McCoy with a running back who’s similar in style just not as flashy…and has a tendency to fumble. The pieces are there but Chip is playing them as individuals and not planning around the team. It’s unfair to blame Murray, the success of the running game is down to Chip’s play calls and unfortunately, there has been very little success so far.

Grade: D-

Wide Receivers:
Probably the easiest to grade. It’s not been a good start for a receiving corp predicted to be among the best in the league. The team rank 24th in receiving yards with the receiving leader being Jordan Matthews..who has 281 yards and a sympathy touchdown against Dallas. 15 dropped passes is simply not good enough when you have a Quarterback who very early on showed signs of looking uncomfortable. He needs some help. At least 6 of those passes SHOULD have gone for touchdowns..and imagine the difference they would have made.

Nelson Agholor made a sloppy error on a trick play against Washington but after such a big catch, constantly beating Revis island and getting open in every game it’s only a matter of time before something big comes his way. Jordan Matthews has been a big disappointment so far. Ball security has been poor and he has failed to break coverage. The receivers HAVE to step it up if this Offense has any hope of picking up steam. You can’t put it all on Bradford..if the O-line is that bad that a running game is eliminated..you look to your big name receivers to step up..and so far they haven’t.

Grade: E

Tight Ends:
It’s been a very quiet season for the Eagles tight ends so far. Probably because they spend a lot of their time trying to reach the unreachable star….also known as stopping the Offensive Line from leaking pressure. Ertz has received 10/19 and has over 100 yards receiving on the season but missed out on a touchdown against Washington due to a flag. Signs of improvement were definitely there last night as Bradford began to find confidence in throwing to Celek and Ertz. The problem is that the pair were so good last year, people expected them to carry on the trend and they haven’t. It’s tough to be critical because they haven’t really put any MAJOR errors on the board, they just haven’t had the platform to make an impact on the game. Disappointing, but not entirely their fault.

Grade: D+

Offensive Line:
This doesn’t really need an explanation. The line has been pitiful and as Jason Kelce explained to the media after Washington, it’s been costing the team games. A mild improvement against the Jets was thwarted after suffering arguably its worst performance to date. With no Andrew Gardner and Jason Peters sidelined for a chunk of time, the line showed its lack of depth in embarrassing fashion. It’s not all bad, Peters and Kelce are two of the only players having to pick up the slack for everyone else. But you cannot expect them to force the holes open for DeMarco Murray and adapt to an entirely different style of play seconds later.

Pass protection has been good if not inconsistent..until it gave up two sacks on a game deciding drive. The running protection has been shockingly bad..the worst part is, it’s tricky to see a way out for this Offensive Line..especially when Chip is consistently passing the blame saying “players need to execute”..something has to change. Bradford needs help, the running backs need help. The Eagles need help.

Grade: Ungraded.

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