The Eagles ultimately fell short of the mark on Sunday in a game that fell entirely on the defense. A 39-28 loss will leave a sour taste in the mouths of many, but was it all that bad? It’s report card time!
While a pair of interceptions might not show it in the box score, Carson Wentz did take another step forward this week. There was a clear level of trust in his receivers against Pittsburgh. Wentz was willing to launch it into tight windows and allow breakout star Travis Fulgham do the rest, refusing to let his early-season struggles change his style.
Wentz played his best game of the season from a quarterbacking perspective. There were still misfires, but seeing the QB continuously get back up after being knocked down this season has to count for something. Wentz faced an elite defense and carried depleted WR/OL groups to their highest offensive output of the season.
Also: Jalen Hurts has completed 100% of his passes this season (1/1). Best QB in the NFL.
The Steelers have an elite run defense. 74 of the 80 yards Sanders put up came on one very outlandish draw on 3rd and long. Outside of that, he amassed 6 yards on a further 10 carries before adding 19 yards through the air.
It feels like the Eagles really aren’t using Sanders in the passing-game all too much this year, but it’s also hard to really gauge the running game against such a stout defense and behind such a broken offensive front.
Grade: C- for the Tuddy
Context is key here. The Steelers have a ferocious front four and the Eagles were banged up heading into this one. However, 11 QB hits, 8 TFL and 5 sacks don’t exactly paint the best picture, especially when partnered with an inefficiency to run the ball.
On the plus side, Jordan Mailata held Bud Dupree to 2 QB hits, 0.5 sacks, and 0.5 TFL, which is probably a better outing than many expected.
Zach Ertz posting 6 yards on 6 targets just isn’t acceptable. This is someone who many assumed was the league’s third-best TE coming into a season in search of a payday. What we’re seeing on the field is a visible change in body language. Ertz looks almost dejected and unwilling at times which is frankly worrying.
Richard Rodgers recording more yards in one catch than Ertz is either a very bad sign that the Stanford product isn’t being schemed as a primary read anymore, or he’s checked out. Both paths are equally as concerning.
Fulg. Meister. General. 152 yards and a touchdown highlight the first day of this magnitude since Jeremy Maclin in 2014. Building on his iconic 42-yard touchdown last week, Travis Fulgham lit up the Steelers secondary and single-handedly moved the chains for the Birds again and again. Greg Ward Jr. also got on the board with a touchdown, but outside of that things got…icky.
John Hightower watched a touchdown pass fly through his hands and cost the Eagles a field goal earlier in the game, while JJAW’s lack of awareness saw him get so excited after making a catch that he ended up wasting valuable seconds at the end of Q2.
But we can’t let that take away from Fulgie’s incredible outing.
6.5 tackles for loss are what stands out here, but an early Javon Hargrave sack looked like it was going to set the tone for the day. It didn’t and that was all she wrote in terms of getting to Big Ben. The Steelers adapted their gameplan to take as many underneath routes as they could…which is exactly what the Eagles should’ve, but failed to do, negating a violent pass rush.
I actually dread writing this section every week. I don’t understand how Nate Gerry gets playing time. It’s dumbfounding. Who watches the tape in meetings and goes ‘yep, that’s my starter’? Gerry was responsible for more bad outcomes than I wish to mention and the efforts of Alex Singleton and a clinical tackling day from Duke Riley were not enough to save this grade.
Anyone not named Darius Slay or Cre’Von LeBlanc can do 400 laps of the NovaCare Complex. Slay is playing out of his mind and the most physical I’ve seen in years, but a depleted group is struggling. Jalen Mills mouthing off at every player possible is such an embarrassing look, Nickell Robey-Coleman has been woeful, and I frankly just want one season where I’m not constantly paranoid about something in the secondary.
Rodney McLeod is once again shining in a place nobody is looking. The veteran is having an incredibly strong season and it’s got to be said that Marcus Epps has come on leaps and bounds since that disappointing week one effort, nearly forcing a huge fumble. Not much to complain about here.
How would you grade the loss? Let us know in our Eagles group chat that has nearly 200 members!
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire