Grading the Eagles: Brent Celek a stud; David Molk sound; Fletcher Cox delivers again
Grading the Eagles following their 27-0 win over the Giants:
OFFENSE – B
Quarterback – C+
Nick Foles was rolling along in the first half until he tossed an ill-advised pass that was intercepted before the break. It looked like he was checking down to Darren Sproles, but Chip Kelly said after the game that Foles was trying to throw the ball out of bounds. Either way, it was a costly mistake because it took at least three points off the board. Foles tossed another interception early in the third quarter with the Eagles up, 20-0. He rolled out and went to Jordan Matthews, but didn't see cornerback Zack Bowman come off Jeremy Maclin. Foles should have just chucked the ball out of the bounds.
There were good moments. He feathered a perfect fade to Zach Ertz for a 15-yard touchdown in the first. Earlier that drive, he found Ertz wide open underneath for a third and long pickup. He threaded a completion to Brent Celek for 24 yards in the second. He sold the play-action and hit a free James Casey for a 26-yard touchdown in the second. Foles stood tall in the pocket, went through his reads and found Riley Cooper for 15 yards in the third. A play later, he scrambled outside, improvised and flicked a 13-yard pass to Cooper. He converted a first down with an option keep in the third. He dove forward, however, instead of sliding feet first.
Foles showed resiliency by driving the Eagles 97 yards for a touchdown on the possession after his second interception. It wasn't a bad performance overall, but his mistakes could have proved costly under different circumstances.
Running back – A
LeSean McCoy answered some of his critics with his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. The blocking was better and the Giants didn't bring their run-stopping "A" game, but he made a handful of would-be tacklers miss. On his second carry, he was patient as he turned the corner and exploded for 12 yards. A play later, he ran through a huge hole off the left end for 18 yards. A series later, McCoy picked up 18 yards off the left end. He showed the burst some have said he's lacked this season when he outran a safety to the corner and gained 15 yards in the second. McCoy eluded a defender in the third and rushed for 28 yards – his longest single carry on the season. He skipped away from the safety in the third and gained another 18 yards. It was the type of performance from McCoy that maybe some had taken for granted.
The highlight of Darren Sproles' night on offense was a 15-yard TD scoot in the third that sealed the game. He also picked up five yards on a swing pass that was ruled a run. He converted a third down with a 6-yard tote up the middle in the third. He juggled and fumble a reverse with Josh Huff. He dropped a short pass in the third.
Tight end Trey Burton was called on when Sproles left with what was eventually deemed an MCL sprain to his left knee. The Eagles were killing the clock, but he rushed for a tough ten yards on five carries in his first NFL action on offense.
Wide receiver – B
Riley Cooper had a good game, especially in the first half. He caught five of seven targets for 59 yards before the break. He had two first down catches over the middle in the first. He came back for a 15-yard grab in the second and re-routed for a 13-yard sideline grab a play later. Cooper was an effective outside blocker in the second half on a McCoy 18-yard run in the third and on Sproles' touchdown rush.
After being targeted 57 times in the first five games, Jeremy Maclin only saw three passes come his way against the Giants. He caught two of them for 16 yards. Maclin had a downfield block on McCoy's 18-yard carry in the third.
Jordan Matthews dropped an early pass over the middle, but rebounded and finished with four catches for 50 yards. He found space in the Giants zone in the third for a 26-yard reception. He caught 10-yard and 7-yard screens in the fourth. He played 45 of 72 snaps (62 percent) mostly out of the slot.
Josh Huff was active for the second straight week and played 23 snaps on offense. He had some miscues. A block attempt on a McCoy short rush wasn't his best effort. He dropped a screen in the fourth. He was the Eagles kick return man, but his lone attempt was a touchback. He took a lot of the injured Brad Smith's special teams snaps and was around the ball a few times.
Tight end – A
Brent Celek might have been the Eagles' offensive MVP. He did stellar work as a run blocker and pass protector. He had a lead block on McCoy's 12-yard carry in the first. He sealed Pierre-Paul off on McCoy's 18-yard run late in the first. He held off a pass-rushing Pierre-Paul when Foles had ample time in the pocket and hit Matthews for 26 yards. Celek also had his best pass-catching game of the year. He pulled in five passes for 45 yards including a 24-yard grab.
Zach Ertz was a difference maker early on. He caught all three of his passes for 47 yards on the Eagles' first two drives. He had a 9-yard grab over the middle. He converted a third down when he took advantage of the soft-playing safety and gained 23 yards with a catch and run. He scored the Eagles' first touchdown when he stretched out for a diving 15-yard reception in the first. He may have had one of his better run blocking days. He took out Jason Pierre-Paul on McCoy's first 18-yard carry. Ertz played 30 snaps.
James Casey played 12 snaps a week after seeing the field for 25 plays. He scored his first touchdown as an Eagle when he ran free off play-action and caught a 26-yard pass. He seemed to hold up well as a blocker.
Offensive line – B+
David Molk had arguably his best start since taking over for the injured Jason Kelce. He got push on a McCoy 5-yard rush up the middle in the first. He had a pull block on McCoy's 28-yard carry. And he took out a defender with a cut block on Sproles' touchdown tote. Molk didn't allow much pressure on passing downs.
Week 2 of Lane Johnson's return was another overall success story. He may not have plowed as many Giants over as he did last week in the run game, but he had key blocks on McCoy runs to the right. He some issues sustaining run blocks on a McCoy 2-yard rush in the first and when McCoy was dropped behind the line in the fourth. Johnson's pass protection was better than it was against the Rams.
Matt Tobin was up and down, but he battled. He was beat on an early one-on-one and Foles was flushed outside where he threw into the ground. He struggled when McCoy was tackled for a loss in the third. He had an inside block on Sproles' third down pickup in the third.
Jason Peters was his usual dominant self. He mauled a Giant on McCoy's first 18-yard rush. He had a second level block on McCoy's 9-yard run in the third. He got a piece of a defender after he pulled on Sproles' touchdown run. Peters helped keep Pierre-Paul in check in the pass rush for almost the entire night.
Todd Herremans had a few issues in pass protection. Foles got hit when he couldn't sustain blocks. But Herremans mostly kept the inside rushers off Foles. As a run blocker, he got out in front on McCoy's 28-yard rush. He may have been late to help McCoy when he gained only 2 yards on a rush in the first.
Defensive line – A
Cedric Thornton played just 25 of 63 snaps as the Eagles went more with their nickel personnel. But he did his job as a run stopper in the base defense. I counted three tackles against the run. The Eagles held running back Andre Williams to 25 yards on ten carries in the first half. Thornton had the lead tackle on a Williams 1-yard rush in the first.
Bennie Logan played 26 snaps. He made the first contact on a Peyton Hillis one-yard run in the third. He was credited with tackling Eli Manning after coverage was solid and he scrambled for one yard.
Fletcher Cox has been the Eagles' most consistent lineman and he had another strong outing against both the run and pass. He bottled up Williams for no gain in the first. He led a team tackle of Williams at the line in the third. He stopped Williams dead in his tracks later in the third. Cox hurried Manning with an inside rush in the red zone in the third.
Vinny Curry notched two sacks in 17 pass rush attempts. He pulled Manning down after he stepped up from Connor Barwin pressure in the first. He kept churning and dropped Manning again from behind when the coverage downfield gave the quarterback nowhere to throw.
Brandon Bair played 17 snaps. He had a tackle for loss wiped out by Giants hold in the first. He made first contact on a Williams short carry in the second. He sacked backup quarterback Ryan Nassib to end the game. Beau Allen played 19 snaps but didn't show up on the score sheet except for a roughing Nassib penalty.
Outside linebacker – A
Connor Barwin had probably his best game as an Eagle, but not just because of his three sacks. He was all over the field. He set the tone with a sack of Manning on the Giants' first drive. The coverage forced Manning outside, but Barwin chopped him from behind and forced a fumble the Giants retained. He had the initial pressure on Curry's first sack. He used a spin move to get inside Giants tackle Justin Pugh for his second sack. Barwin later got around Pugh for his third sack in the fourth. He stopped Hillis for no gain in the second. He had five solo stops.
Trent Cole was equally as disruptive as Barwin. He got inside penetration and sacked Manning in the first. He got pressure in the second and Manning was forced to throw the ball away in the second. He hit Manning as he threw incomplete in the third. Cole had three tackles against the run, one assist and made the initial contact when DeMeco Ryans was credited with a tackle for loss.
Brandon Graham was relatively quiet considering his recent success. He played 33 snaps. He sacked Nassib in the fourth and forced a fumble. Eagles coaches credited him with a hurry and three tackles.
Inside linebacker – A
DeMeco Ryans clearly wasn't 100 percent after missing most of practice last week with a groin injury. But he played 51 snaps before Bill Davis pulled him late when the Eagles had the game in hand. He was awarded three stops against the run, one of which occurred in the second when he met Williams at the line. He was beat by the tight end for a 20-yard catch over the middle that converted a long third down. Ryans once blitzed up the middle with Curry and forced another errant Manning pass.
Casey Matthews played an efficient 18 snaps. The coaches gave him four solo tackles and one assist. He shot into the backfield and dropped Williams in the second. He recovered a fumble in the fourth. Emmanuel Acho was on the field for 23 snaps. He wasn't involved in many plays but was never targeted despite dropping into coverage 14 times. Marcus Smith saw 15 plays. He picked up his first career hurry in the fourth when he hit Nassib.
Cornerback – A
Bradley Fletcher was targeted six times and allowed four catches for 60 yards, but he never let a receiver get beyond him. He was victimized on several comeback routes. Rueben Randle got him for 17 yards in the first and 16 yards in the second. Odell Beckham Jr. caught a 16-yard pass in front of him in the third and Fletcher missed the ensuing tackle opportunity. Fletcher was better as the game progressed. He tackled Randle short of the first down after a short catch in the third. He had good coverage when Randle tried a double move in the fourth. He forced a fumble in the fourth.
Cary Williams had perhaps his best game of the season. He had tight coverage on Beckham in the first, but the rookie made a splendid grab on a slant route. Williams gave up two short passes in the fourth when the Eagles were comfortably ahead and Davis had his secondary playing soft.
Brandon Boykin played his highest percentage of snaps (66) on the season. He kept Victor Cruz in check for most of the game. Manning completed just one pass when he went in Boykin's direction and it was a three yarder to Cruz that Boykin tackled short of the goal line. On the next play, Manning went to Cruz in the corner on fourth down and the receiver beat Boykin. Cruz injured his knee, though, and couldn't make the catch.
Nolan Carroll played 21 snaps as the dime defensive back. He was credited with three tackles. He was targeted two times and allowed two receptions for 16 yards.
Safety – A
Malcolm Jenkins rebounded from last week's subpar performance. It's impossible to full assess safety play off the broadcast replay, but Jenkins seemed to play a large part in the Eagles' strong performance in the secondary. He had coverage on tight end Larry Donnell when Manning tried to hit him in the end zone in the third. He blitzed up the "A" gap and forced Manning to throw away in the second. Jenkins was run over by Williams during an 8-yard rush in the first.
Nate Allen was awarded three solo tackles, three assists and a pass breakup. The Eagles stayed in their base on the Giants' first play from scrimmage even though they had three wide receivers and Cruz beat Allen for 13 yards. It was the last time he gave up anything in the air. He missed an open field tackle on Williams in the fourth.
Special teams – A
Dave Fipp's special teams units were once again near flawless. They didn't produce a touchdown, but that's getting greedy. Sproles had a 43-yard punt return with a key block from Burton. Cody Parkey kicked two field goals, including a 45-yarder, and had four touchbacks on six kickoffs. Donnie Jones dropped five of six punts inside the 20. And Chris Maragos partially blocked a punt.
-- LeSean McCoy avoided five would-be tackles against the Giants, per Pro Football Focus. He was credited with only a total of four missed tackles in the previous four games.
-- McCoy and Darren Sproles rushed eight times for 81 yards (10.1 avg.) off the left edge and seven times for 52 yards (7.4 avg.) and a touchdown off the right edge against the Giants.
-- Despite his struggles in the first five games, McCoy is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (422) behind DeMarco Murray (785), Le'Veon Bell (542), and Arian Foster (513).
LOCKER ROOM LEFTOVER
-- There was a sense of calm to how the Eagles played against the Giants on offense, but also in the locker room following the game. Why? Zach Ertz said it best.
"When LeSean gets going," he said, "it kind of calms everybody else."
Chip Kelly can win with a passing game. He showed that at times last season and in the Redskins win three weeks ago. But his offense is at its best with a potent running attack and even though the Eagles have had their problems, the Eagles coach will always try to establish the run no matter how good a defense may be against the run.
The Giants held opponents to just 4.1 yards a carry entering the game and last year held McCoy to just 94 yards on 34 tries (2.8 avg.) in two games.
"We ain't going to change our game plan just because we're playing a team that's good against the run," tackle Jason Peters said. "We're going to go in and try to run it. If they stop it, they stop it. If they don't, we're going to keep running it. That's just how it is."