It’s been a long Monday for Eagles fans, who have still been trying to get over the heartbreaking overtime loss to Tennessee. There’s so much finger pointing going on right now and it’s difficult to really blame one specific area. But were there any positives? Here’s this week’s report card.
You couldn’t really ask Carson Wentz to do more than he did in Sunday’s loss to the Titans. The North Dakota State product protected the ball and made smart decisions all game long. Confident in his wideouts, he constantly allowed them the opportunity to make a big play by taking shots down the field. Not all of them were successful and he wasn’t helped by drops throughout the afternoon, but in comparison to last week, this was a big game from Wentz. (STATS)
The Eagles sprinkled in runs throughout the day, with a healthy dose coming from Jay Ajayi, who still managed to lead the team in yards (70) on 15 carries despite dealing with a back injury. Wendell Smallwood was a liability in pass protection at times and the Titans generally did a good job at limiting big plays out of the backfield, but persistence is key and the running backs did enough to move the sticks and keep a (lopsided) balance to the offense.
Zach Ertz was a security blanket for Wentz once again on Sunday. Leading the team in receptions (10)and receiving yards (112), this was the seventh career game Ertz had surpassed 10 receptions and 100 receiving yards. After entering the game leading the NFL in TE receptions, it’s safe to say he’s one of, if not the most dominant receiving tight end in the league. Dallas Goedert provided a much smaller spark, but it’s crazy how much the return of Jeffery freed up space for Ertz to gobble up.
Allowing 11 quarterback hits is never a good look, especially if you carry a reputation as the best offensive front in football. Jason Peters was being assaulted all game long and Lane Johnson was upstaged by a rookie. This unit has too much talent for this to really be a long-term concern, but a severe lack of discipline has lead to an alarming amount of errors and penalties, stinging the offense over and over.
Alshon Jeffery’s return was better than anyone could’ve ever pictured. Notching his 14th 100-yard game, his first as an Eagle, Jeffery logged 8 catches including one beautifully caught touchdown pass. His presence opened up the passing game as expected, but Nelson Agholor struggled on 3 occasions, dropping passes that could’ve and should’ve propelled the offense to the next level. The 56 yard touchdown reception by Jordan Matthews had the hearts of fans singing everywhere and this was a massive improvement in comparison to the opening three games of the season. It’s amazing what a number one receiver can do for an offense…
The pressure was there to begin with but as it did in the last three games, it began to slowly fade as Mariota attacked the intermediate game. The Eagles did a great job of stopping the run and some flashes from Bennett and Barnett headlined a day where sacking didn’t seem to be on the menu considering the QB they were facing. The Eagles defensive line is being criticized today, but I really don’t think they were the cause of the problem. Vrabel did a fantastic job of adjusting at halftime to get Mariota to really attack Jalen Mills on those pesky underneath routes. When the timing is that much faster, there’s only so much the pass-rushers can do.
The Eagles linebackers had a relatively tame day all around. Some solid tackles and impressive run stuffing from the heart of the defense, Nigel Bradham, set the tone for the afternoon. However, Jordan Hicks had a few misfires. The unit performed as expected. They cleared up the wreckage and marginalized the Titans running backs to the best of their ability.
Where oh where do we begin? The constant abuse being endured by Jalen Mills, or the constant sporadic tackling from Ronald Darby? Both corners had their weaknesses exposed on Sunday and even Sidney Jones was beaten for a touchdown, the first time that’s happened all season. All three corners were extremely underwhelming and had a vital role in keeping Tennessee in the matchup. But hey, at least Avonte Maddox got his first interception…….playing at Safety
If not for Malcolm Jenkins putting the entire unit on his back, this would be another F. Jenkins kept the defense kicking and screaming as the Titans mounted their overtime efforts, while Corey Graham gave up one of the most costly plays in recent memory by committing one of the most ridiculous errors in recent memory. It’s a team loss however and every safety not named Malcolm Jenkins really struggled.
A giant return from DeAndre Carter is what arguably put the Eagles in a position to send the game to overtime, while Jake Elliott was money as always and Cameron Johnston continued his punting MVP campaign. Strangely, this may be the most impressive aspect of the team right now…kind of.
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports