Eagles vs Falcons: Player Breakdowns and Grades

My hands are shaking. My heart feels like it is coming out of my chest. It’s 2 am, and I’m repetitively counting down from 10 in my head so I can get a couple hours of sleep before I head to work. What does this all mean? EAGLES FOOTBALL IS BACK BABY! The Eagles were carried by a bend-don’t-break defense in the first half while Doug Pederson thought he could revitalize the Darren Sproles of old. Credit to Doug Pederson who made the adjustment in the second half and put the rock in Ajayi’s hands. In the end, the Eagles were carried by the excellent play of their front four on defense. Almost all of it was downright ugly, but we’re 1-0 and that’s all that matters. Here is my player breakdown from last night’s win versus the Atlanta Falcons.

Offense

Jay Ajayi

15 carries, 62 yards, 2 touchdowns, 4.1 yards per carry

Grade: 96%

Notable Plays: Zero carries in the 1st quarter. First run came in the 2nd quarter for 10 yards and continued to run through contact for extra yardage. 9 snaps in the first half was a complete joke. Converted a huge first down in the 3rd quarter which he almost broke open for a major gain. Ajayi got more snaps in the second half, showing great footwork and getting 4-5 yards a carry. Took the ball and got into the end zone for the Eagles’ first touchdown and lead of the season. Strong run for 8 yards to start the Eagles 4th quarter drive to retake the lead. Broke a tackle for the play of the game, an 11 yard touchdown run to give the Eagles the lead with 2:20 left to play.

Nelson Agholor

8 receptions, 33 yards, 4.1 yards per reception, 10 targets, 1 run for 16 yards

Grade: 94%

Notable Plays: Only Eagles receiver to get a reception in the 1st quarter (2 for 9 yards). Made a fantastic catch in traffic on a big first down play for 10 yards. On the very next play, caught a bad pass by Foles but made the adjustment for 5 yards. He also took a sweep down the right side line on a 3rd and 1 for a big 16 yard gain and 1st down.

Jason Peters

Grade: 90%

Notable Plays: n/a

Lane Johnson

Grade: 88%

Notable Plays: n/a

Jason Kelce

Grade: 88%

Notable Plays: n/a

Corey Clement

5 carries, 26 yards, 5.2 yards per carry

Grade: 80%

Notable Plays: Took advantage of a big hole on 3rd down with 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter for 21 yards.

Darren Sproles

5 carries, 10 yards, 2 yards per carry, 4 receptions, 22 yards

Grade: 75%

Notable Plays: First two runs in the 1st quarter went for minimal gain. Later, he made the defender miss in the backfield and got the first down on a 3rd and short. He also caught a screen pass and converted a big 1st down play while fighting through contact for extra yards in the 4th quarter. Doug Pederson relying on Sproles this much on offense, though, is a major mistake.

Nick Foles

19/34, 117 yards, 3.4 yards per attempt, 1 interception

Grade: 72%

Notable Plays: 1st first down came on an RPO (run pass option, for those of you who didn’t have to sit through Collinsworth explaining it for hours) pass to Nelson Agholor on a post route. He later fumbled the snap on a 3rd and long and took the sack. He also missed Zach Ertz for a big first down during a 2 minute drill. Looked completely out of sync the entire first half. His 3.6 yards per attempt in the first half is… not good enough, to put it as lightly as possible. It didn’t get a whole lot better in the second half, although there was definite improvement. Got lucky with a dropped interception by Atlanta early in the 3rd quarter. Got the crowd back into the game via Philly Special II, but this time it was Agholor to Foles with the catch (unlike Brady) for a 15 yard gain.

Dallas Goedert

1 reception, 4 yards, 3 targets

Grade: 65%

Notable Plays: Zero targets in the 1st quarter. His first target came on a deep pass in the end zone, and Dallas just missed getting two feet in. First NFL reception came on a swing route in the 3rd quarter for 5 yards. He later dropped a pass which led to an interception in the 4th quarter. Not good but the throw was late. Great lesson for the rook when he looks at the tape the next day.

Zach Ertz

5 receptions, 48 yards, 9.6 yards per reception

Grade: 60%

Notable Plays: Zero targets in the 1st quarter. His first catch came on 3rd and goal for 10 yards in the 2nd quarter. He then opened up the second half with an 8 yard reception, and later made a huge reception on 3rd and long for 15 yards. It all went downhill from there though. He dropped a would be first down on a 3rd and 6 in the third quarter. Then he got nabbed for an unnecessary offensive pass interference which took away another big play from the Eagles. Finally, to put the cherry on top, he dropped ANOTHER would be first down in the 4th quarter. Ertz completely imploded down the stretch of that game.

Stefan Wisnieswki

Grade: 60%

Notable Plays: Whiffed on a block for Corey Clement which went nowhere on a 2nd and long.

Shelton Gibson

n/a

Grade: 50%

Notable Plays: Fought for 10 extra yards on his first kickoff return in the 1st quarter. Didn’t have a reception.

Mike Wallace

n/a

Grade: 50%

Notable Plays: Zero targets in the 1st quarter. He drew a pass interference in the second quarter for the first down, but he seemed to quit on the pass way too early despite knowing the PI was coming. He also had a deep target late in the 4th quarter, but the cornerback made an excellent tip to break it up. We wait until at least week 2 for Wallace’s first catch as an Eagle.

Defense

Fletcher Cox

2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 4 quarterback hits

Grade: 98%

Notable Plays: Stuffed the run on a huge 2nd down and goal in the first quarter. At one point, he flashed his athleticism by keeping Freeman in the backfield, who then quickly got tackled for a loss by Brandon Graham. In the final drive by Atlanta, he made his presence most felt. He sacked Matt Ryan with less than one minute left in the game and then disrupted a 3rd down incomplete pass with 10 seconds left to force it to 4th down.

Ronald Darby

6 tackles, 2 pass deflections

Grade: 96%

Notable Plays: He got burned by Julio Jones on a comeback route for a big gain in the 2nd quarter. After that, however, Darby looked extremely solid. He had great coverage on Julio Jones on a huge 3rd down late in the first half to force the Falcons to 4th down. He also broke up a massive third down pass to Julio Jones in the 3rd to force the Falcons’ punt. Finally, Darby had great coverage and forced Julio Jones out of bounds on the last play of the game for the Birds’ win. WOO!

Brandon Graham

2 tackles, 2 tackle for losses

Grade: 93%

Notable Plays: Graham made a huge tackle for loss on Coleman in the backfield at the end of the 1st quarter. Later, he contained the edge and forced Matt Ryan to throw the ball away and cause an intentional grounding in the 3rd quarter.

Jordan Hicks

7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass deflection, 2 quarterback hits

Grade: 88%

Notable Plays: Hicks got the sack on a late 2nd quarter blitz to push the Falcons to fourth down. He was very active in the second half and always seemed to be around the ball. Unfortunately, he took a terrible angle to the ball on the Falcons’ touchdown run in the 4th quarter. Later, he got the combo sack with Chris Long to force a 3rd and long with less than 2 minutes in the 4th quarter. Then he got called for what could have been a potentially devastating illegal contact to give the Falcons one last chance with 1 second left in the game.

Chris Long

4 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits

Grade: 87%

Notable Plays: He got flagged on a terrible roughing the passer call on Matt Ryan. What is he supposed to do there? Later, he literally ran around the city of Philadelphia and sacked Matt Ryan to cause a fumble halfway through the 4th quarter.

Rasul Douglas

1 interception

Grade: 85%

Notable Plays: Rasul had one of the plays of the game, picking off Matt Ryan early in the 4th quarter on a terrible deep pass to Julio Jones. Julio seems to have run the wrong route on the play.

Michael Bennett

2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hit

Grade: 80%

Notable Plays: Bennet forced Matt Ryan out of the pocket on a 3rd down play in Eagles territory in the 1st quarter.

Kamu Grugier-Hill

4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Grade: 80%

Notable Plays: Made his presence felt early in this one when he forced the Falcons to turn it over on downs with the TFL on 4th and goal on their opening drive.

Sidney Jones

4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Grade: 78%

Notable Plays: Jones took a horrendous angle on a run that went for a big gain. He later broke open a screen pass and got the tackle for loss in the 4th quarter.

Malcolm Jenkins

3 tackles

Grade: 75%

Notable Plays: Forced Julio Jones out of bounds on the first play of the game.

Rodney McLeod

6 tackles, 2 pass deflections

Grade: 70%

Notable Plays: McLeod whiffed on an end-around to Julio Jones for a big first down. He did have great coverage against Julio Jones on a potential first down at the end of the 1st quarter. He missed an easy interception late in the first half which would have given the offense excellent field position. He had great coverage and stripped the ball away from Seubert to force the punt on 4th down in the 3rd quarter.

Nate Gerry

1 tackle

Grade 65%

Notable Plays: Tipped a Matt Ryan pass which almost led to a diving interception.

Jalen Mills

6 tackles, 2 pass deflections

Grade: 60%

Notable Plays: Mills got beat by Julio Jones on a double move down the right sideline which was bobbled and called a no catch (somehow).

Derek Barnett

2 tackles, 1 quarterback hit

Grade: 50%

Notable Plays: Barnett was flagged for a brutal offsides on a Chris Long sack on a 3rd and goal in the 1st quarter. Later, he forced Matt Ryan to throw it away, leading to an intentional grounding. Picked up another horrendous penalty in the 4th quarter, lining up in the neutral zone, which negated a sack by Fletcher Cox and would have pushed the Falcons out of field goal position.

Avonte Maddox

n/a

Grade: 50%

Notable Plays: Flagged for holding on a late 2nd quarter kickoff to push the offense back in a crucial drive to end the first half.

Special Teams

Cam Johnston

6 punts, 52 yards per punt

Grade: 95%

Notable Plays: His punts were all fantastic, averaging 60 yards in his first three punts as an Eagle.

Eagles Stars against the Falcons

***** Performances

Jay Ajayi: Jay Ajayi led the Eagles with 15 carries for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ajayi needs the ball, Dougie P. Giving Darren Sproles more touches than Jay Ajayi in the first half was an outright crime. Until Carson comes back, just don’t stop pounding the rock with Ajayi.

Cam Johnston: What a debut by our new punter Cam Johnston. When the offense was in a complete rut, Johnston maintained field position with his leg. Six punts and an average of 52 yards per punt. Wow.

Fletcher Cox: Fletcher was the leader of the front four last night (the real MVP), which absolutely dominated the second half and when it mattered on crucial drives by the Falcons. Fletcher Cox had two tackles, one sack, and a tackle for loss.

**** Star Performances

Ronald Darby: Sure, Julio Jones had 10 receptions for 169 yards, but Darby made massive plays when it mattered most.

Jason Peters: The 36 year old Hall of Famer started vs the Falcons and didn’t miss a step. Welcome back, Jason Peters!

Chris Long: While he hurt the team with a roughing the passer penalty (for the record it was a BS penalty), he also continually got some major pressure on Matt Ryan in the second half. He finished with a team high-tying four quarterback hits. Long also had 1.5 sacks on the night.

Boyz II Men: They are the best, and they absolutely brought it during the National Anthem.

Jordan Hicks: He made several big plays throughout the game, especially in the second half. Hicks led the Birds with 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection and 2 quarterback hits. He was all over the field in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

*** Star Performances

Brandon Graham: Graham had 2 tackles for loss and was a main cog for why the Eagles beat the Falcons. Graham was all over the field in the second half when the Birds had to get pressure with their front four.

Lane Johnson: Another quiet game by Lane Johnson, which is a huge complement when you’re an offensive linemen.

Top 5 Duds

The Refs: I don’t have the stats, but I’m pretty sure there was a flag thrown on every single play in the second half. Not good enough.

Doug Pederson’s Playing Calling in the 1st Half: Putting the offense on the shoulders of Darren Sproles in the first half was downright idiotic. Kudos to Doug for making the adjustment and putting the ball in Ajayi’s hands in the second half.

Eagles fans for booing at the end of the 1st half: Not a good look, guys. We need to do better – especially after raising a world champions banner an hour ago.

Zach Ertz: Dropped multiple passes that were crucial plays and would-be first downs on an offense that struggled mightily to get going.

Tre Sullivan: Cut him. INEXCUSABLE and almost cost us the game. Next.

Honorable Mentions

Derek Barnett: Had multiple penalties that kept the Falcons’ offense on the field.

The Washington Redskins: Thought they could bring a knife to a gun fight. Nope.