Grades for the Eagles in Sunday's loss
Position-by-position grading of the Eagles in their 33-30 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday:
Michael Vick set a career mark with 428 yards passing and completed 24 of 37 (64.9 percent) attempts in a performance that was both excellent and poised. He tossed two touchdown passes and would have had four if not for a drop and a penalty. Vick also ran for a 2-yard TD in the fourth quarter that gave the Eagles their only lead of the game. He wasn't perfect, but he didn't turn the ball over and was virtually everything Chip Kelly should want out of his quarterback. Vick failed to hook up with DeSean Jackson on three long passes in which the wide receiver beat his man, but an argument could be made in each case that he wasn't 100 percent at fault. On the first throw, the pass was slightly awry, but Jackson drifted out of the bounds. On the second, Vick was crushed by Chargers linebacker Dwight Freeney just after he released a pass that overshot Jackson. And on the third, the ball was slightly overthrown, but it hit Jackson's fingertips and he bobbled it to the ground.
The pair finally hooked up in the third quarter when Vick heaved a perfectly-placed pass that Jackson took for a 61-yard score.
Running back: A-minus
LeSean McCoy finished with only 11 carries for 53 yards, but he caught five passes for 114 yards. He continued to elude tacklers and showed power running, as well. On a third and 4 in the first quarter, McCoy lowered his head and picked up the first down. He gained 9 yards later in the quarter when he danced past a Charger who had slipped away from a Brent Celek block. McCoy skipped out of one would-be tackle during his 70-yard catch. Bryce Brown played nine snaps on offense, rushed three times for 13 yards, and was called for a false start.
Wide receiver: A-minus
Jackson had one of the best games of his career, catching nine passes for 193 yards. He caught deep passes, intermediate ones on crossing patters and short screens. He gained 72 of his yards after the catch, including a large chunk on a 41-yard grab over the middle. Cornerback Shareece Wright had no answers for Jackson, especially on fly routes. Jackson also blocked well, helping tight end Zach Ertz on a 27-yard reception in the fourth. His one mistake was costly. He took a personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct after Vick's touchdown.
Riley Cooper played more snaps than Jackson (56 to 54), but was targeted only three times. He caught two passes for 23 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown. Jason Avant tallied four receptions for 39 yards and reeled in a tough 5-yard catch for a key third-down conversion in the third.
Tight end: B-minus
Celek was on the field more than any other tight end. He was only targeted on the Birds' last drive. He was an inconsistent blocker, not helping Jackson much on a bubble screen and missing linebacker Larry English, which forced Vick to throw one away in the third.
Ertz played only 12 snaps but he made the best of them, pulling in two catches for 58 yards. James Casey dropped an apparent touchdown on the Eagles' second possession.
The line had a few issues early, and rookie Lane Johnson took one costly penalty, but the unit had another strong game. Left tackle Jason Peters also got off to a slow start. He couldn't contain Freeney, who hit Vick and forced a short throw on the opening drive, and he missed safety Eric Weddle with a block that netted Brown only 1 yard on the ground. Peters and Johnson were side-by-side in an unbalanced line formation. It worked the first time on a short third down, but the Chargers snuffed out the second when defensive end Cory Liuget bowled over Johnson. Peters was virtually flawless the rest of the way.
Left guard Evan Mathis had a good game and made only one apparent error - when he missed Weddle on a McCoy run. Mathis had a strong lead block, along with center Jason Kelce, on a screen pass that McCoy took 21 yards before the half. Kelce had a good pull block on linebacker Donald Butler that sprung McCoy on a 17-yard run. He also held off 330-pound defensive tackle Cam Thomas when Vick hit Ertz for 31 yards in the third.
Todd Herremans struggled. The right guard was driven back 5 yards by defensive end Jarius Wynn, who recorded the Chargers' only sack of the day. He was beaten by linebacker Bront Bird when he pulled in the second and McCoy gained only a yard. Johnson continues to improve, but his illegal-formation penalty brought back a 37-yard touchdown catch by Jackson in the third. The Eagles settled for a field goal.
The Eagles defensive line was ineffective. The down linemen rarely got into the backfield on passing downs and didn't tack on enough blockers to free up the linebackers. They didn't get much push up front against the run, either. Defensive end Fletcher Cox had a few moments in the second half. He dropped Danny Woodhead for no gain in the third and forced the running back outside and into the arms of linebacker Mychal Kendricks later in the quarter. Cox also pressured quarterback Philip Rivers up the middle and forced a short throw underneath on third down and 10. Cox and Rivers got into it after the play and Cox threw him to the ground. When Rivers tried to grab the end's hand to help him up, though, Cox jerked his hand back as if to say, "I'm no gentlemen out here."
Cedric Thornton was very quiet. The end aided outside linebacker Connor Barwin on a short Ronnie Brown rush in the third and dropped running back Ryan Mathews after a 1-yard gain. But Thornton did little else in 57 snaps. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga isn't playing a glamour position, either, but he got pushed around on short downs even when singled up against Nick Harwick.
Outside linebackers: B-minus
Connor Barwin started strong but seemed to fizzle late. His first-quarter sack of Rivers came when he blew up rookie tackle D.J. Fluker. Barwin forced Rivers to throw a pass away on the Chargers' winning drive. But he failed to come up with a big third down stop when Woodhead caught a pass out of the flat and spun forward for a first down.
Trent Cole had some fine moments, but didn't get to Rivers as often as perhaps he should have, facing former Eagle tackle King Dunlap. He drew a holding call at one point and deflected a Rivers throw when he chopped his arm.
Inside linebackers: C
DeMeco Ryans had another solid effort, but was unproductive in the blitz. He missed two tackles - one on Woodhead during the first drive and an open-field one on receiver Eddie Royal when he scored a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth. Ryans knocked out receiver Malcolm Floyd, who had been giving the Eagles secondary fits, with a body blow at the start of the second half. He was credited with nine tackles.
Mychal Kendricks drifted back to earth after a strong opener. He missed a total of three tackles and was beaten in coverage several times. He lost Antonio Gates on a short circle route in the first quarter when the tight end went for 21 yards. Kendricks did provide good coverage on receiver Vincent Brown on a third down early in the fourth.
With Bradley Fletcher out with the concussion, Brandon Boykin took his place and played the best among the defensive backs. He broke up two long passes to Vincent Brown and swatted Gates from behind just before he crossed the goal line in the second. Boykin gave up a few completions - a 19-yard catch by Floyd and a 16-yard grab by receiver Keenan Allen - but his coverage was usually tight.
Cary Williams was as bad as he was good last week against the Redskins. He was called for three pass-interference penalties, and each one seemed legit with Williams grabbing the receiver's jersey. Williams also appeared to blow his quarter zone assignment when Rivers hit a wide-open Royal for a 24-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Patrick Chung made a few stops, but he also missed two tackles and was called for holding on a key third down in the third period when he, too, held a jersey.
Nate Allen had a forgetful day. He led the Eagles in tackles with 10, but most came after significant damage had been done. He got off to a bad start when Mathews ran him over for 10 yards even though he grabbed the back's face mask. He was clobbered by Dunlap on Royal's 15-yard score. And he couldn't cover Gates on back-to-back catches - for 15 and 21 yards - to open the Chargers' winning drive.
Rookie Earl Wolff played 49 snaps a week after playing only eight and will start ahead of Allen in no time. He, too, made his share of errors. He took poor routes to tackle Gates on 24- and 21-yard catches and ran into Williams when Woodhead dropped a pass. He did make two strong tackles against the run.
Special teams: B
Alex Henery was wide right on a 46-yard field-goal attempt before the half, but he made three others, including a 48-yarder. Colt Anderson made a number of stops on the cover teams and forced Fozzy Whitaker to fumble a kickoff return after Vick's touchdown run. Henery had the best shot at the loose ball but couldn't come up with it. Damaris Johnson had seven kick returns for a respectable 26.6-yard average. Punter Donnie Jones had three punts for 44.7 yards.