Philadelphia Eagles

Best defense in the NFL? Grading the Eagles week one win over Atlanta

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The Eagles can hold their heads high after a tightly contested week one win over Atlanta. A win is a win, regardless of how scrappy it may be. However, there’s plenty to talk about after a rollercoaster victory. Here’s a report card grading every position on the Eagles roster after week one.

Quarterback: C
Completing 19/34 passes and throwing an interception, Foles didn’t come out of the gate looking like the Super Bowl 52 MVP and that was always going to be expected. That said, Foles was without two key receivers and had to endure a stagnant run game during the first half. It wasn’t the worst performance in the world from Foles, but staring down receivers and missing clear wide-open opportunities are two things that will have to be cleaned up in the coming weeks.

Running back: C+
The first half was messy for the Eagles backfield and it looked as though the second half would continue that trend. That was until Jay Ajayi took over the game, scoring two touchdowns and Corey Clement broke off a 21-yard run. Pederson still seems intent on implementing the committee approach and when the Snowball started rolling, it became very difficult to stop. They say ‘Football is a game of two halves’ and that was very much the case on Thursday night.

Offensive line: B-
The Eagles offensive front  allowed 4 QB hits and 2 sacks on Foles, which is relatively impressive given how little chemistry the unit had with a lack of preseason action. Jason Peters jumped straight back into the deep end, silencing a flurry of aggressive pass-rushers. It’s crazy how strong Peters looked considering he hadn’t played a competitive snap in ten months and all things considered, the offensive line picked up where they left off in February, by dominating.

Tight end: C
Credit where credit is due, the Falcons linebackers did a fantastic job of blanketing Zach Ertz and making him a non-factor. Deion Jones and his band of brothers did all they could to body-up on the athletic tight end and keep him as quiet as possible, knowing he would see a heavy wave of traffic. Ertz still found a way to receive for 48 yards, catching 5 of 10 targets. In an ideal world, Ertz and Goedert need to bring more to the table than they did in week 1, but not every team will be able to silence the unit as Atlanta did so brilliantly.

Wide receiver: C+
It’s easy to look at the Eagles wideouts and acknowledge that only two of them caught a pass all game, with Nelson Agholor accounting for 8/9 receptions. But without Alshon Jeffery or Mack Hollins, this was always going to be a tough battle. Carter did a fantastic job in the slot of blocking on screens and picking up blocks at the second level, while it’s important to note that Foles did miss Mike Wallace twice on deep shots that should’ve gone to the end zone. This should’ve been a huge cause for concern, but the fact that it isn’t, says a lot about how strong this performance was at a severe disadvantage.

Defensive line: A+
13 quarterback hits. 9.5 tackles for loss. 4 sacks. Does much more need to be said?

The Eagles defensive line destroyed the rebuilt Atlanta O-line and had fun doing it. Opening the floodgates for the likes of Jordan Hicks to feast, Fletcher Cox and Chris Long both had standout games and Brandon Graham showed no signs of being hampered by an injury. This pass-rush looks even better than it did last year, which in itself is just absolutely terrifying.

Linebacker: B 
Jordan Hicks had the game of his life against the Falcons and it’s being drastically overlooked. The only stat he didn’t notch was an interception, every other box was ticked. Sacks, tackles for a loss, leading the team in tackles and batting down a stray ball, Hicks was roaring on Thursday and was supported by a hustling Kamu Grugier-Hill and a learning Nate Gerry who almost snagged an interception. Bearing in mind that the team were without Bradham and a new starter at OLB, this was a very impressive performance.

Cornerback: B-
Sure, the Eagles struggled to lockdown Julio Jones, but who doesn’t? The main thing to note is that he was kept out of the end zone. When it counted, Ronald Darby was able to come up with the biggest play of the game in a moment where it was all on the line. Sidney Jones’ first start was met with a couple of errors but an otherwise sound performance and Jalen Mills gave up a couple of deep shots, but showing his tackling consistency once again. Plenty of promise here in a game where Julio Jones ripped every area of the field to shreds…except the end zone.

Safety: B-
Tre Sullivan’s huge mistake may have cost him a roster spot, with the Eagles now activating the recently acquired Deiondre Hall, but aside from that, the unit was excellent. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod did what both players do best, hit hard and make big plays when asked to. This Safety tandem, along with the presence of Corey Graham may be one of the best groupings in the NFL, but Sullivan’s poor error brings this grade down.

Special teams: D+
Other than Cameron Johnston and his iron leg, this was sloppy all round. Penalties, miscommunications and missed chip shots ended in a dismal display from one of the league’s most prominent special teams outfits. There will be plenty of film review moments that force the coaches to raise their voice when preparing for next week.

Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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Liam is a 25-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.

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