The Eagles are soaring atop the NFC East after an impressive 26-24 win over the Chargers on Sunday. The Offense simply ran rampant against L.A in an environment that was very much a home away from home for the Birds. Despite one of the most complete performances of the Doug Pederson, there were still a few areas for improvement. Here are grades and analysis for each position after the win.
Wentz was aggressive, confident, and successful against the Chargers. Whether it was slinging it deep to Zach Ertz, or surgically picking apart the secondary in the fourth quarter, Wentz’s 242 yards/1TD, game was arguably his most complete performance as an NFL quarterback. Unfazed by a strong pass rush, Wentz was composed, light on his feet, and more importantly incredibly accurate on a deep ball that had previously evaded his game.
It would be difficult to grade the Eagles backfield anything other than perfect. Blount rushed for 136 yards which included a 68 yard rush that will be remembered for years to come. Supported by an efficient chain-moving committee in Wendell Smallwood (who also recorded his first score of the season) and Corey Clement, the Eagles backfield showed all the potential that heralded the unit when it was built during the offseason. Doug Pederson has found the key to balancing the Offense, and it has worked wonders.
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram combined for 23.5 sacks in their last fifteen games. They didn’t get to Carson Wentz once. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson were magnificent on the outside, while Jason Kelce was back to his best as a run-blocker, paving the way for what rapidly became a committee of battering rams. Chance Warmack fared much better this week than he did in his first outing as an Eagle, and Wisniewski was as reliable as ever. You couldn’t ask for much more from the Eagles offensive line except perhaps a little more discipline on the penalty front. Aside from that, it was a brilliant game.
Zach Ertz led the Eagles in receiving once again, but for the first time during his career as an Eagle, showed his prowess as a run-blocker. This seemingly new strength in his game was integral in igniting the run, while Trey Burton and Brent Celek both featured prominently on the blocking front. Ertz is rapidly becoming one of the top tight ends in the league and is supported by a versatile backup and a run-blocking veteran who produce consistently on a weekly basis. Tight end is one of the most consistent positions on the roster, and that’s a huge plus for the Eagles.
Alshon Jeffery was a little quieter once again, receiving for just 29 yards as Ertz stole the passing show. Wentz tried to connect deep with Torrey Smith twice, but both passes were dropped. The only real exceedingly bright point of the afternoon was Nelson Agholor, who tallied 58 yards on 3 receptions. Both Smith and Agholor were clinical in opening the run with big blocks, but it would have been nice to see a little more reliability from the wideouts. It’s amazing to see the offense take off so explosively due to the abundance of weapons at the disposal of Carson Wentz, but Ertz is still by far and away the Eagles top receiving threat…and that shouldn’t have to be the case.
Considering the Eagles were without Fletcher Cox, the Defensive line had itself a game to remember. Beau Allen amassed a pair of tackles for a loss, while the hustle of Chris Long sparked the game in favor of the Eagles, stripping the ball away from Rivers after chasing him down, only for Derek Barnett to recover. Talking of Barnett, the first-round pick was used in coverage looks and went on to thrive in the backfield with back-to-back tackles just one play later.
Rivers has rarely been sacked this season and Sunday was no exception. But to completely eradicate the run and ensure that constant pressure surrounds the veteran signal-caller in the absence of Fletcher Cox can only be seen as a plus.
Simba made his mark upon his return to the Eagles Defense, leading the team in tackles with 9. Nigel Bradham was just behind and made a couple of popping plays throughout the game. Mychal Kendricks continued to shine in coverage, which still feels weird to say…but there was nothing negative to say about the unit. There were no highlight reel plays, but there was enough consistency to give the Eagles D an advantage throughout.
This is where things get tough. Rookie errors finally caught up with Rasul Douglas, as the WVU standout allowed a couple of big plays after being burned at the line of scrimmage.
Jalen Mills played soundly throughout and had a much quieter afternoon than the 21 targets thrown his way by Eli Manning one week ago. A nice pass breakup and a quartet of tackles put a bow on his day at the office. He wasn’t perfect, and again was exploited deep down the field, but the LSU product recovered well.
At Safety, the return of Rodney McLeod gave the Eagles some much needed star-power. McLeod held the backend while Jenkins stormed all over the field, making big tackles and fighting on every play. This unit has the potential to be one of the most dominant in the league, and it’s well on its way to becoming just that.
However, the Eagles are still hurting. Their “bend but don’t break” mentality has seen them allow floods of passing yards late in games that allow near-comebacks or even lead changes. Attrition sets in and all it takes is one rainbow over the top to change a game. The Eagles need to tighten up on the backend if they are to make a real push to go all the way.
Jake Elliott was perfect throughout, connecting with all 4 of his efforts, while Donnie Jones was kept off the field for the most part.
The Eagles coverage units were impressive once again, forcing the Chargers to accept the fair-catch in most situations. A sound day from one of the league’s most consistent units.
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports