Tuesday, December 1, 2015

McLane's Game Review: Grading the Eagles vs. Giants

Position-by-position grading of the Eagles following their 36-21 win over the N.Y. Giants on Sunday:

McLane's Game Review: Grading the Eagles vs. Giants

DeSean Jackson, left, celebrates with Nick Foles after his touchdown<br />catch. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
DeSean Jackson, left, celebrates with Nick Foles after his touchdown catch. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Position-by-position grading of the Eagles following their 36-21 win over the N.Y. Giants on Sunday:


Quarterback – Grade: B

Michael Vick had a better day running the ball and Nick Foles was more productive through the air. Whatever occurs over the rest of the season in turns of who plays quarterback, Sunday’s game did little to decide the debate. But Foles’ steady performance in relief of Vick certainly re-opened the discussion.

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Vick had a number of throws before he left with a hamstring strain that he’d likely prefer to have back. He threw into double coverage on his first pass to DeSean Jackson. He overthrew a well-covered Zach Ertz a series later and then threw behind the tight end later in the first quarter. Vick threw into the paw of New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul when he came in unblocked in the first. He overshot an open Jason Avant in the end zone in the second. Vick’s best throw was to Ertz on a corner route in the second for 24 yards. It was perfectly placed and set up the Eagles’ first touchdown. He later hit Jackson for 56 yards over the middle when he threw into double coverage.

Vick was productive on the ground, rushing seven times for 79 yards. He picked up two first downs on relatively short read option carries. He scrambled 34 yards on third down and 20 in the first. It was pure Vick. He also ran 11 and 14 yards on designed sweeps.

Foles did a nice job jumping in for Vick and guiding the Eagles to a field goal before the half. He was shaky for most of the third quarter, but rebounded in the fourth and finished short drives with two perfect touchdown passes. It was a very small sample, but Foles appeared to get rid of the ball quicker than Vick and made some throws before receivers went into their breaks. His 25-yard loft to Brent Celek was one example, as was a 5-yard touchdown fade to Jackson on a stop-and-go corner route that sealed the victory.

The run game came to standstill once Foles got into the game, although Chip Kelly said it was circumstantial. He kept the ball once on the read option but only gained three yards on second and goal.

Running back – B

LeSean McCoy ran 12 times for 48 yards and touchdown before Vick left, eight times for -2 yards after he left. Much of the lack of running room seemed to stem from issues on the offensive line and the Giants committed to stopping McCoy. He wasn’t perfect on the ground, but did contribute in the passing game catching six passes for 46 yards.

McCoy made positive yards on a 4-yard run in the first. He hurdled cornerback Trumaine McBride on a 12-yard catch in the second, drawing “Oooos” from the crowd. He scampered 17 yards on the read option in the second. He plowed ahead one yard for a touchdown. He had a nine-yard change of direction rush later in the quarter. He picked up a short first down late in the second and now leads the NFL with 26 rushes for first down. He was dropped in the backfield several times in the second half when offensive linemen missed blocks. McCoy scooped up a low 12-yard catch from Foles in the second and made tip-toe sideline grab for 11 yards in the third.

Chris Polk was called on before Bryce Brown, but managed only three yards on two carries. He had nowhere to go on the first carry, but had an outside lane on sweep in the second. Brown’s one early carry was bumped outside for no gain. He caught one pass for six yards. He had three late carries to run out the clock.

Wide receiver – B

DeSean Jackson bounced back from two games when he was stifled by man-to-man defense. There were a few grabs he could have had in tight spots, but the Eagles will take a seven-catch, 132-yard day any time. Jackson also drew a 27-yard pass interference penalty when cornerback Prince Amukamara drove him out of bounds in the third.

Jackson showed good concentration when he pulled in 56-yard catch that went through McBride’s hands. He got open on corner routes against man coverage that Foles hit him for 21 and 28 yards. He pulled in a shoestring catch in third converted a third down. Jackson made little effort to block on a McCoy screen in the second.

Riley Cooper had a quiet afternoon. His critics won’t be as calm. Cooper played 62 of 81 snaps and was targeted only once. He did get separation in the end zone in the third, but Foles overthrew him. Jeff Maehl cut into Cooper’s reps with 20 snaps. He wasn’t targeted at all, though. Jason Avant caught three of seven targets for 33 yards. He was open on a few aimed passes but Vick and Foles were off target. Damaris Johnson played three snaps.

Tight end – B

A week after having a costly drop, Brent Celek rebounded with his best overall effort of the season. Aside from the sprawled out touchdown reception, he caught both other targets – 11-yard catches. He also had a key block on a Vick sweep in the first. Zach Ertz extended for the 24-yard catch in the first. He also made a low grab from Foles for 14 yards in the second. The rookie had trouble blocking Tuck on a McCoy minus-1 run in the second. He played 33 of 81 snaps. You can almost see Ertz’ confidence growing. James Casey played four snaps.

Offensive line – B-

Eagles quarterbacks were sacked only once and generally had ample time to make throws downfield. The offensive line struggled to open lanes in the run game, though. Right tackle Lane Johnson made strides after two difficult weeks in pass protection. He didn’t allow a sack and kept the aging Justin Tuck outside the pocket. He was called for a false start on first play from scrimmage. He appeared to be late to block Cullen Jenkins on a short McCoy run in the second. Justin Tuck got around him a few times early, but he never impeded Vick in the pocket. Johnson kept Tuck and others silent for the rest of the game.

Right guard Todd Herremans followed up last week’s improved play with another steady outing. He had a little trouble sustaining a block before Vick’s errant throw to Ertz in the second. He got push on McCoy’s 17-yard run in the second and the tailback’s 14-yard sweep. He had no noticeable breakdowns in pass protection.

Center Jason Kelce had the most issues in the run game. Three separate defensive tackles were able to slant past him and drop running backs near or behind the line. He was called for holding Tuck on a McCoy run in the first on third down. He had trouble with a Mike Patterson swim move in the second and Vick was dropped for minus-2 yards. He had difficulty again with Patterson, who pushed him back and dropped Polk after no gain in the second. Kelce got worse in the run game in the second half. Johnathan Hankins blew by him and tackled McCoy at the line. Shaun Rogers and Patterson stopped McCoy in the backfield a few plays apart by beating Kelce off the snap. Kelce was much better when asked to pull and get out in space. He had lead blocks on Vick’s 11-yard sweep and McCoy’s 12-yard catch.

Left guard Evan Mathis was stout for the most part, but looked like he missed defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins when he sacked Foles in the third. Had seal blocks on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the first and 7-yard run in the second.

Jason Peters’ spotty play continued. The left tackle was effective in keeping defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul from causing too much havoc, but was late on a few blocks in the run game. He was strong early, helping with McCoy’s 9-yard tote and pulled and walled off a linebacker on a Vick read option keeper. He missed the cornerback on a McCoy sweep in the first. He had trouble with Pierre-Paul when McCoy ran outside for only one yard in the second. A play later Peters had key pull block on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the second. He was called for a false start in the third and briefly left the game late in the fourth.

Allen Barbre filled in for Johnson and Peters when they left for only a couple of plays. He was called for a false start in the fourth.


Defensive line – C-

Fletcher Cox showed marginal improvement over last week, but the defensive line failed to get much pressure until late in the game. Cox forced Eli Manning into his second interception when Vinny Curry flushed the quarterback up toward the defensive end. Cox continued to struggle as two-gap run stopper. He appeared to hit the wrong gap when David Wilson ran five yards for a touchdown in the first. He did eat up Brandon Jacobs after a short gain in the third.

Curry gift-wrapped defensive lineman Bennie Logan’s first career sack when he pressured Manning in the fourth. He also forced Manning into intentional grounding in the fourth. Curry played only 14 of 73 snaps but was the Eagles’ most effective pass rusher.

Cedric Thornton was the most productive run stopper. He shot through a gap in the first and dropped running back David Wilson for what should have likely been called a safety. He also ran across the line and dropped Wilson after a four-yard run in the first. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga had a tackle for loss, but not much else. Defensive end Clifton Geathers was quiet in 14 snaps.

Outside linebackers – C-

Trent Cole had a few pressures and was ultimately responsible for forcing an errant Manning throw that bounced off a teammate’s helmet and was intercepted. Cole likely got away with slapping Manning’s helmet. He helped angle Wilson to Earl Wolff, who made tackle after one-yard run in the first. He shot into the backfield and forced Wilson to the sideline for only four yards later in the half.

Connor Barwin rushed 35 of 67 snaps and had a few hurries, but never got close enough to affect Manning’s throws. He did knock down a pass in the third. Brandon Graham had a few hurries in the second when he rushed as a down lineman. Casey Matthews played four snaps.

Inside linebackers – C

DeMeco Ryans wasn’t involved much when the Giants abandoned the run. He did shoot into a gap and blew up a Brandon Jacobs run that resulted in a Barwin tackle for loss in the third.

Mychal Kendricks showed signs of life after three rough games. He was Johnny on the spot when he recovered a Jacobs fumble in the second and when he caught the deflection for an interception. He drew a hold in third and had solid coverage on tight end Brandon Myers in the fourth.

He may not have stayed in the correct gap on Wilson’s 5-yard touchdown run. He cleaned up the stop when Cole later forced Wilson outside. The Jacobs fumble may have been forced by Kendricks when he zoomed into the backfield.

Cornerbacks – B-

Bradley Fletcher saw a tremendous amount of action. There was more good than bad. The cornerback was credited with five pass breakups. He had more success against receiver Rueben Randle than he did Hakeem Nicks. The Giants beat him on a number of slants.

Randle had a step on him on the second play from scrimmage, but he broke up the pass at the last second. Manning went back at him a play later and hit Nicks for 49 yards. He lost Nicks on a third down when the receiver ran a pivot and picked up 14 yards. He played soft on Randle’s 26-yard touchdown. He was beat on the same slant patterns for 15 and 19 yards later. Fletcher broke up a late pass to Randle in the fourth.

Cary Williams gave up a number of soft throws underneath. He came up and made all the requisite tackles, though. He led the team with 11 tackles. He, too, was victimized by slants, but snatched an interception with a shoetop grab in the fourth. Nicks beat him for 21 yards when he played press and the receiver ran a slant in the first.

Brandon Boykin kept receiver Victor Cruz (five catches for 48 yards on 12 targets) in check for most of the game. He was called for pass interference in the third. He had good coverage on Cruz on third down early in the second. He ran step for step with Cruz on a deep ball in the fourth. He blitzed in the fourth and forced Manning to pump before the deflected interception. A series later, he picked off the quarterback with a diving, one-handed grab.

Safeties – C+

Nate Allen avoided any major gaffes for the third straight game. He blitzed several times in the first half to no avail. He was late to help inside on a Manning bomb to Nicks in the first with Fletcher covering outside. He broke up two deep passes in the second half.

Earl Wolff was up and down. He assisted with a run stop in the first and broke up a pass to Cruz in the third when singled up. But he appeared to miss a zone assignment on Randle’s 26-yard touchdown in the third and couldn’t keep up with the receiver when he caught a six-yard touchdown over the safety a series later in the third. Earlier, he appeared to have trouble with Myers who caught a 24-yard pass over the middle in the zone.


Eagles special teams overall were much better after two substandard outings. Alex Henery was 5 of 5 on field goals. None was longer than 41 yards. Punter Donnie Jones finished with six punts for a 43.2-yard net average and had two that landed inside the 20. Damaris Johnson had one 18-yard punt return but didn’t do much else in the return game. The cover units did not allow an above-average return. Graham and Casey Matthews were called for special teams penalties.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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