Grading the Eagles: Sanchez ineffective; Kendricks explosive; Jenkins exploited
Grading the Eagles after their 24-14 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, spotlighting a player from each position:
OFFENSE – D
Quarterback – D
Mark Sanchez had a few solid throws, particularly on both his touchdown passes, but struggled for most of the day. Many quarterbacks have had the same problems against arguably the NFL's best defense. He threw to a covered Jeremy Maclin on his first pass and was nearly intercepted by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. He threw a touch late to Brent Celek on the next play.
Sanchez made a perfect bubble screen pass to Maclin against zone coverage for a two-yard touchdown. He hit Jordan Matthews in stride for 17 yards to his left on a designed roll-out in the second. He threw slightly ahead of Maclin on a screen, but his receiver dropped it. He overthrew Maclin in the third, but it appeared as if Sherman got away with illegal contact. Sanchez threw high and out of bounds to a covered Matthews.
Sanchez completed three passes on third down, but each was short of the sticks and his receivers – Matthews, Riley Cooper and Maclin --- could not get enough yards after the catch. There were two other third down throws that were also shy of the marker, but Matthews dropped one and seemed to be held by corner Byron Maxwell on the other.
After running back Marshawn Lynch fumbled in the fourth, Sanchez stepped up in the pocket, but under threw Cooper and was intercepted by cornerback Tharold Simon. Sanchez now has nine turnovers in six games. After scrambling for seven yards, he hit Cooper for five yards and a third down conversion. He was sacked three times in the fourth quarter, twice when right guard Andrew Gardner was beat.
Running back – D
LeSean McCoy broke Wilbert Montgomery's career rushing mark with the Eagles, but it was small consolation. He was held to 50 yards on 17 rushes (2.9 avg.) and had a costly fumble at the Eagles 19 to open the second half. He didn't secure the ball and it was poked out.
He turned the corner on a sweep and picked up six yards on his first carry. He converted a fourth down with a 2-yard tote down to the Seahawks 3. McCoy picked up ten yards – his longest run of the day – on a second quarter counter. He dove ahead for three yards, but was bottled up a play later for no gain when Brent Celek appeared to miss his block. He ran four, four and five yards on three straights carries for a first down to open the Eagles' final drive of the first half.
McCoy turned the corner and made a tackler miss when he picked up four yards a play later. He slipped on a 1-yard fourth quarter carry. He lost his footing again on a 1-yard rush.
Wide receiver – D
Riley Cooper finished with three catches for 13 yards on five targets. He played 35 of 46 snaps. Sanchez went deep to him twice, but they couldn't connect. Cooper had a step on Simon on the first attempt, but Sanchez overthrew his receiver a touch. He had a 4-yard catch on a short dig, but couldn't shake the linebacker in the third. Sanchez noodle armed a pass to him on a post and was intercepted. Cooper had the lead block on Maclin's touchdown.
Tight end – C-
Zach Ertz 25 snaps, only four less than Celek. He was targeted only three times. Ertz appeared open beyond the sticks on an unsuccessful third down throw to Cooper. He drew a pass interference penalty when he beat linebacker Bobby Wagner and was held. Sanchez slightly under threw him two plays later when he beat linebacker K.J. Wright, but Ertz made a great catch and with great body control propelled himself across the goal line for a 35-yard touchdown. He caught a 4-yard pass in the third but had no blockers in front. Sanchez threw a little high in the fourth, but Ertz let the ball sail through his hands.
Offensive line – C-
Lane Johnson had his ups and downs, but the offensive line as a whole never got into a rhythm. He blocked out defensive end Cliff Avril on McCoy's fourth down conversion in the first. He had a lead block on McCoy's 4-yard third down carry in the second. He didn't sustain his block on the defensive tackle and Sproles was dropped for no gain in the third. He plowed a path on a McCoy 4-yard rush in the third. He gave up four hurries, per Pro Football Focus.
Defensive line – A-
Fletcher Cox added another to a long list of all-pro caliber games this season. Eagles coaches awarded him 11 solo tackles (!) against the run. He fought off a blocker and stopped running back Marshawn Lynch after five yards in the first quarter. He run upfield, plugged a hole and dropped Lynch for no gain. And then a play later, he did the same thing on a Lynch carry to the left. Cox pulled Lynch down after a 2-yard gain up the middle. He tackled Turbin for a 1-yard loss in the second. He fought off another lineman and dropped Lynch after a short gain in the third. Two plays later, he swallowed up Lynch for no gain. Cox had Russell in his sights on two rushes, but the quarterback spun away each time.
Outside linebacker – B-
Trent Cole had struggles early, but recovered in the second half. He dropped into coverage and gave up a 7-yard, first down pass to receiver Paul Richardson in the first. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis called an all-out blitz on third and 15 and Cole got caught rushing upfield as Lynch ran for 21 yards. He got caught cheating on another run blitz and Wilson kept on the zone read and scooted 26 yards untouched for a touchdown in the second. Cole sealed the edge and dragged down Lynch after two yards. He gave the Seahawks a first down on third and four when he jumped offside. He bounced back a play later and teamed up with Cox to stop Lynch for no gain. He was fooled by a Wilson on a naked bootleg that gained 12 yards in the third. He wasn't fooled the second time and dropped Wilson at the line. The same could be said on a zone read keep in the fourth when Cole dropped Wilson for a 5-yard loss.
Inside linebacker – B+
Mychal Kendricks made plays against both the run and pass from multiple spots. The coaches credited him with 16 total tackles (12 solo). He shed a tight end block and dropped receiver Jermaine Kearse after a short screen pass in the first. A play later, he blitzed Wilson late, nearly brought him down, but Connor Barwin picked up the sack. He shot up the middle and forced Wilson outside where he threw incomplete. A play later, he ran a scrambling Wilson out of bounds short on third down. Kendricks slipped a tight end block a series later and tackled Lynch for no gain. He looped outside and dropped Wilson for a loss when he kept on the zone read in the second. He essentially had a sack when Wilson grounded the football as he dragged him down. Another late blitz forced Wilson to throw the ball out of bounds.
In the third, he came up and tackled Lynch after a 1-yard catch. He appeared to take a divergent path when Wilson hit his fullback for a short third down pickup. He forced a fumble in the fourth when he got his helmet on the ball and Lynch lost it. He was driven back several yards by Lynch on a late 8-yard rush.
Cornerback – B
Cary Williams was targeted only twice and gave up just a 19-yard completion to receiver Ricardo Lockette in the third. He had tight coverage on Lockette and Richardson for what seemed like the entire first half. He was glued to receiver Jermaine Kearse on a deep third down throw that was incomplete in the third .
Safety – D
Malcolm Jenkins seemed to be a defender the Seahawks wanted to target, particularly when he was matched up against receiver Doug Baldwin in the slot. He appeared to let tight end Tony Moeaki to get behind him in a zone coverage for a 15-yard catch in the first. Baldwin beat him for 20 yards out of the slot in the second. He had coverage on a short pass to Moeaki that was incomplete. But Baldwin beat him for nine yards on an out that gave the Seahawks makeable field goal range before the half. Jenkins was turned around by Baldwin on a stick route that netted a 23-yard touchdown in the third. Davis said he put Jenkins in a bad spot with an all-out blitz. He had decent coverage when Kearse made a diving 20-yard stab in the third. He read a short throw to tight end Luke Wilson and made the tackle after one yard. He dropped a would-be interception in the fourth when he jumped a route.
SPECIAL TEAMS – A
The Eagles' cover units did solid work and didn't allow a kick return longer than 23 yards or a punt return longer than five. Kicker Cody Parkey, playing with a groin injury, didn't have a touchback on three kickoffs. Rookie Marcus Smith, playing for the injured Trey Burton on punt cover, forced a fumble after Seahawks punter Jon Ryan dropped and picked up the snap in the first. Smith has had a difficult time playing as a linebacker on defense and on special teams. "He did a good job when he was in there," coach Chip Kelly said. "We didn't have a ton of opportunities, there weren't a ton of plays, but I think he's improved as the season has gone along."
Vinny Curry has eight sacks despite playing only 33 percent of defensive snaps this season. That's a sack every 36 snaps. Only the Ravens' Elvis Dumervil, who is tied with the Chiefs' Justin Houston for the NFL lead in sacks with 16, has a better ratio among players with more than seven sacks. He has a sack every 32 snaps.