Eagles Evaluation: Birds Fly Higher Than Jets

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

After a big win in Green Bay, the Eagles had extra time to rest up and game plan for one of the worst teams in the league.

A look at the final score, 31-6, may seem to indicate that this was a blowout that went well, but that’s only half true.

Sure the win is what is important, but the offense seemed inept with penalties on a majority of their offensive drives resulting in no points. The defense scored 14 and the offense just 17 in this route of an AFC East team that isn’t the Patriots.

Personnel Changes

The Eagles rotates a lot of defensive ends inside on Sunday, making the addition of Vinny Curry that much bigger.

With Darren Sproles out with injury, Corey Clement was made the punt returner. It did not go well in his first attempt as newly added corner Ryan Lewis did not listen to Clement’s calls to move out of the way and, with the way the ball bounced, Clement thought that the ball had bounced off of Lewis’s foot. Clement was then replaced by Nelson Agholor. Clement may be the punt returner moving forward considering how the last few injuries to Sproles have gone.

Stock Evaluations

Buy: Brandon Graham

A stat line doesn’t always tell the whole story for a defensive lineman as they could be getting pressure and affecting throws throughout the entire game but wind up without the stats to show it. Six tackles (two for loss), five QB hits and three sacks is easily the best game for an Eagles defensive lineman this season. Graham was a one-man wrecking crew out there. If he can continue to get even half the pressure he did against the Jets for the rest of the season, he could be in the running for defensive player of the year and the Eagles cornerback play will seemingly improve.

Sell: Darren Sproles

With half his touches being punt returns, Sproles’ six touches went for just 32 yards. That includes three carries for four yards with a long of a five-yard rush. He also dropped a pass that was a bit too high, but still hit him in the hands. While Sproles did pass Tim Brown on the all-purpose yardage list, but immediately left the game with a quad injury. Given the time his soft tissue injury took last year, Sproles may be out for a significant amount of time.

Buy: Orlando Scandrick

Orlando Scandrick was brought in as patch to try and help stop the bleeding for a cornerback room once again decimated by injuries. He was arguably the best corner on the field for the Eagles on Sunday. He was barely thrown against in coverage and came out of the game with only four tackles, two of which were for loss. He also recorded two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and scored a touchdown. He could not have had a much better game. The real test, however, will come next week, when he is covering either Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs.

Sell: Ryan Lewis

Lewis barely saw the field, but he did make an impression. His first impression was made on the Clement muffed punt where he did not get out of the way as Corey Clement was telling him to. If he had listened, that punt isn’t muffed and the Jets likely get shutout. Not a good first impression. Then he had an illegal block in the back on a later return. The team didn’t need to use him on the defensive side of the ball and he already made a negative impact. Not a good sign.

Buy: Nathan Gerry

Nathan Gerry jumped a route early in the game for a pick-six, marking his second interception of the season. The Eagles have not needed to use Gerry as much with the return of Kamu Grugier-Hill, but Gerry has been really good in coverage and could be the best coverage linebacker on the Eagles roster. For a team that is doing so well against the run, Gerry may see more snaps down the line.

Sell: Craig James

James didn’t have a bad game, but it was certainly worse than his previous one play sample where he deflected Aaron Rodgers’ pass, leading to an interception to win the game. James had three tackles in this one, but was constantly targeted and had a rough day that should have been brutal had Luke Falk not overthrown receivers that James was trailing and Demaryius Thomas not dropped a deep ball that went between his hands. He should expect to see most of the targets in Minnesota unless someone returns and James is relegated to the bench.

Buy: Rodney McLeod

When the biggest knock against a guys game is that he didn’t return his interception for a touchdown like Nate Gerry and Orlando Scadrick did with their respective turnovers, that’s a good day. McLeod has returned from injury well and has added an additional reliable player to the Eagles secondary. With Jenkins and McLeod out there, the team has a few guys to count on while they wait for five of their top six corner to return and, hopefully, provide a much needed boost to the secondary.

Sideline Chatter

  • The Eagles missed two huge plays in this game with the ball just sailing beyond Nelson Agholor’s arms. Either would have made this game more of a beat down than it already was. Both plays featured illegal contact, though a penalty was only thrown on one.
  • The Eagles defense forced three turnovers and recorded 10 sacks in this game. If they can repeat even a third of that performance going forward, the team should be in excellent shape.
  • Perhaps the most heads-up play in this one was an errant snap that would have lost the Eagles 20 yards, but Carson Wentz was able to pick it up and throw it at the feet of Mack Hollins. Hollins attempted to catch the ball that was intentionally thrown far too low, so Eagles fans are lucky he didn’t.
  • Darren Sproles did nothing of note in this game, but garnered the minimal yardage needed to pass Tim Brown for fifth on the all-time, all-purpose receiving yards leaders with 19,683. That puts him just 1,881 yards behind Emmitt Smith.

Team Focus

The Eagles begin a series of three away games by traveling to Minnesota to take on the Vikings next Sunday.

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