Going into the game, most Eagles fans saw this as the toughest remaining game on the Eagles 2021 schedule. That being said, there was definitely a chance to come away with a win.
As we saw, the defense was a big let down as a unit and kept the game just out of reach. As I mentioned in my last post, it was definitely going to be interesting to see how the young coaching staff handled success against a bad team. Were they going to build off of the previous game and begin establishing some consistency? Or would old habits die hard and cost them yet another win they could have had?
The grades are in, and I’m not holding back any punches this week.
Jalen Hurts: 11 of 17 for 162 yards passing, 1 touchdown & 10 rushes for 62 yards.
Twitter Hurts Haters will have you thinking this loss fell on his shoulders, but if you actually watched the game you know that he was what kept them in it. After a slow start in the first quarter, he definitely showed some growth. The growth we have been waiting 8 weeks for. He stood in the pocket and threw some great passes. Hurts seems to be playing with more confidence since head coach Nick Sirianni started to adjust his offense to take some pressure off of him. Hurts’ run and flip for a first down was one of the best plays of the game and his determination and gutsy play is definitely encouraging. I feel like he’s due for a breakout game as a quarterback very soon.
Grade: B+ (still room for improvement).
Jordan Howard: 17 carries for 71 yards (4.1 ypc), 1 touchdown
Jordan Howard could very well be this team’s RB1 going forward. As we saw last week, he is not an easy back to tackle. He rarely loses yards, and he is a very north-south type of back. One things I noticed this week, was that the Eagles seem to have a ton of trust in him taking care of the football. They seem to have way less hesitance handing the ball to Howard than they did with Miles Sanders. He should definitely be one of the main focal points of the running game. Boston Scott added 10 carries for 40 yards which is fine but nothing to write home about. He did have a nice chip on Joey Bosa late in the game (on the Devonta Smith touchdown).
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Devonta Smith: 5 receptions on 6 targets for 116 yards, 1 touchdown
Dallas Goedert: 3 receptions on 5 targets for 43 yards, 0 touchdowns
Goedert looked solid as a pass catcher and excellent as a blocker. Tyree Jackson made his season debut and mostly contributed as a blocker, but it will be interesting to see what role he carves out as a big receiving option.
The star of the night however, was the Slim Reaper. I can’t recall any recent Eagles wide receiver looking this good since the days of early-career DeSean Jackson & Jeremy Maclin. He’s just so damn good. He is so smooth as a route runner and his attitude in-game is awesome (referring to the mic’d up clips we saw). He’s on pace to break the 1,000 yard barrier which is great. The Eagles have found their WR1 of the present and future.
But, they certainly need to add some talent to that receiver room because it is extremely thin behind Smith. Reagor is a virtual non-factor as a wide receiver to this point in his NFL career. Perhaps using him in a Cordarrelle Patterson type of role would be more suitable for him. He’s dealt with an ankle injury last week, but was able to suit up. On the sole target he received, he went backwards 6 yards. Most of this season he’s struggled to stack performances and really get off the ground. Quez Watkins has talent but is not being utilized consistently. This group is missing a veteran (cough, cough Odell Beckham Jr). The more talent you have here, the better Jalen Hurts will look now and later.
Grade: Reagor specifically gets an F.
The tandem of Smith & Goedert get an A.
My heart wanted LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on this team going into the draft. So I will admit I was very biased and resentful when we drafted a backup injury prone offensive lineman, no matter how good he was going to be. But Holy heaven…Landon Dickerson!!! I am beginning to love the kid as a football player as he starts coming into his own. The offensive line gave up 1 sack and for the most part, did very well against a good defensive line that includes Joey Bosa. Dickerson was mauling his man all night. The line looked great. I’m encouraged by this group going into 2022 and beyond.
Grade: A+ for the group, A++ for Landon Dickerson.
The entire defense except one guy… (you’ll see why):
This defense flat out sucks. Quite honestly, I don’t care whether you want to blame personnel, coaching, scheme, or a combination of all. The bottom line, the defense is horrendous. How many times is this professional football team going to allow an opposing offense to bully them for an entire game without a single punt?
This is the third or fourth time this year that this defense did not force one punt. Herbert had a completion percentage of 84%. He faced virtually no pressure and was not sacked and rarely touched. The cornerbacks did not challenge receivers at the line and got bullied. Yes, they had key stops on fourth downs earlier in the game, but when it came down to crunch time..this defense’s deficiencies got exposed time and time again. This defense is crippling. I can’t even think of a reason why Jonathan Gannon is any better than Jim Schwartz. He just seems way too inconsistent and does not seem to be able to call a good game against good teams.
He has to be better or the Eagles have to evaluate whether he belongs here or not. The lone defensive highlight of this game was TJ Edwards, who made some big tackles and is definitely the best linebacker on this team. Fletcher Cox is still missing in action, and Derek Barnett is still killing this team with his horrifically timed penalties. He should be benched or face some sort of consequence for this continuous disservice he is doing to his teammates.
Grade: F for everyone except TJ Edwards who gets a B+.
Jake Elliot hit his lone FG attempt of the game and didn’t miss any extra points. He’s fine.
Hats off to Coach Sirianni. He has really showed some signs of growth in the last few weeks. He is helping Jalen Hurts, putting together a better game plan, and more importantly seems to be learning from his early season mistakes. The offense gave this team every chance to win this game and there is something to be said about that. He is definitely not the problem, not right now at least. He would be even better if he had some more talent on offense as I previously mentioned, but hey…I guess we will find out soon enough.
I don’t think I need to tear into Jonathan Gannon any further. He needs to put up or shut up at this point. Adjust, take some risks, or step aside. As Barrett Brooks says …if you’re going to lose, lose while being aggressive, don’t be passive and scared to take a risk.
Grade: Sirianni gets a B+, Gannon gets 10 F’s (an F for every defensive player not named TJ Edwards)
Cover Image Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images