Grading the Eagles after their 38-27 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, spotlighting a player from each position:
Mark Sanchez had his second straight rough outing. He was fine through most of the first three quarters, but then unraveled when he was asked to shoulder more of the load. First the bad: Sanchez threw short of the sticks and high of LeSean McCoy on third down on the opening drive. He airmailed a pass to Jeremy Maclin near the sideline in the third. He overthrew an open Zach Ertz. The ball hit Ertz's outstretched hand and was deflected to safety J.J. Wilcox for an interception. He sailed a pass over Brent Celek's head on a 15-yard out in the fourth. Sanchez threw complete to Ertz on third down, but 3 yards shy of the sticks. He threw into double coverage and incomplete when he went to Riley Cooper. On the Eagles' final desperation drive, he tossed his second interception on a pass to Maclin.
There were positives: Sanchez zipped an 11-yard pass to Darren Sproles on third down in the second. He moved the sticks again with a 23-yard third-down toss to Celek. Off play-action, Sanchez flipped a strike to Ertz for 15 yards on third down to the Cowboys 5. A series later, he hit Ertz for 11 yards and a hurdle off a naked bootleg. He found Maclin for 11 yards on a quick out. He wisely threw the ball away on third down in field goal range before the half. Sanchez stepped up in the pocket and threaded a pass to Maclin, who ran for a total of 72 yards to the Cowboys 1 in the third. Sanchez did a good job of avoiding pressure and flicked a short pass to Josh Huff, who broke two tackles on the way to a 44-yard gain in the fourth.
And then there were the drops: Sanchez hit Cooper in the hands in the second, but the receiver bobbled the ball near the sideline and dropped it. He threw high to Huff, but the ball awkwardly hit him in the hands, and he dropped it. And Jordan Matthews dropped what should have been a catchable ball. Sanchez was sacked in the first when the offensive line had trouble with stunts. He was sacked on successive plays in the fourth, once when he appeared to have no open receivers, the other time when he appeared to be gun shy.
LeSean McCoy never got going and finished with 64 yards on 16 carries (4-yard average). He lost a yard on his second carry when it appeared that guard Evan Mathis was beaten. He gained 5 yards up the middle on his next try. He shimmied up the middle for 14 yards in the second. McCoy rushed for 7 yards up the middle on the next play. He was stuffed for 1 yard a play later. On the next drive, he dashed for 7 yards straight ahead. He picked up a first down with a 5-yard rush on the next play. McCoy rushed 6 yards on a third-quarter sweep. He blocked the safety on Sproles' 1-yard touchdown run.
Jeremy Maclin caught four of six passes for 98 yards. His first catch - an 11-yarder near the sideline - came late in the second. He made a diving third-down stab in the third. Three plays later, he caught a sideline pass, and after cornerback Brandon Carr went for the breakup, Maclin scooted a total of 72 yards. He caught a 10-yard pass in the fourth.
Brent Celek did some damage as a receiver (four catches for 52 yards), but also hurt his team with a fourth-quarter fumble. He caught a 5-yard pass in the second. He skied for a 23-yard, third-down completion over the middle. Celek caught a 10-yard pass in traffic. He was late to make a block when McCoy was stopped after a short rush in the fourth. He fumbled after a 14-yard catch.
Jason Kelce was part of a unit that really did its job for most of the game. The center helped open a hole on McCoy's 14-yard carry in the second. He drove his man into the ground on the next play, as McCoy picked up 7 yards. Kelce ran the tackle upfield, as Chris Polk ran 5 yards up the middle for a touchdown. He helped pop open another gap on a McCoy 7-yarder. He was pushed back by defensive tackle Terrell McClain, and Sproles picked up only a yard on the ground. He pulled and drove the linebacker back on McCoy's 3-yard carry in the third. Kelce had a second-level lead block on McCoy's 6-yard rush. His man sacked Sanchez in the fourth, but it looked like the quarterback may have held the ball too long in the pocket. Kelce also was called for holding.
Bennie Logan and the line led the way as DeMarco Murray was held to 81 yards on 31 carries (2.6-yard average). Logan was taken out of the play by Cowboys guard Zach Martin on Murray's 1-yard touchdown run in the first. He did a nice job at reading a play-action rollout by Tony Romo, and the quarterback spiked the ball. He wrapped up Murray for no gain near the goal line. He gobbled up Murray after Fletcher Cox blew up his rush in the backfield in the third. He was driven out of the gap when Murray zoomed 14 yards in the fourth. Logan was the first to plug Murray on third and 1 for no gain. He tackled Murray for a loss late in the fourth.
Connor Barwin was solid all-around, as usual. Eagles coaches credited him with 10 tackles. He shed his blocker on the edge and tackled Murray after a 3-yard gain in the first. He shot into the backfield after Romo pumped and sacked him in the second, giving him 141/2 quarterback takedowns. Barwin hustled upfield to tackle Lance Dunbar after a short pass. He ran Jason Witten out of bounds after a short reception. Witten caught an 11-yard pass in front of him in the third.
Casey Matthews missed time while being checked for a head injury, but he returned. He was credited with six solo tackles and an assist in 39 snaps. He stopped Murray a yard short of the goal line on the Cowboys' opening drive. He did a nice job of recovering after a blitz to tackle Murray after a 9-yard tote. Romo hit Witten for 9 yards in front of Matthews in a zone in the second. Matthews teamed with Cox to drop Murray after 4 yards in the third. He assisted on a tackle for loss with Barwin when Cedric Thornton got penetration on Murray. He assisted on a no-gain run by Murray in the fourth.
Brandon Boykin played 37 of 82 snaps on defense. He was targeted four times and allowed four catches for 66 yards. He was beaten by Witten on a 21-yard, third-down catch in the first. He played soft on receiver Cole Beasley, who caught a 13-yard pass (AMEND: Boykin was in a zone here and probably wasn't solely responsible). Boykin shed a blocker and made a tackle on a 10-yard screen to Beasley in the second. He penetrated into the backfield and forced Murray toward Logan for a loss in the third. Boykin looked like he got lost in a zone when Dez Bryant caught a 22-yard pass down to the 2-yard line.
Nate Allen didn't make any big plays, but he also avoided major errors. He had good coverage on tight end Gavin Escobar when Romo threw the ball away on the Cowboys' first play from scrimmage. He recovered to tackle Murray after linebacker Mychal Kendricks missed a tackle. He was a touch late picking up Witten, who converted a short third down. Allen teamed up with Barwin to stop Dunbar just shy of a first-down rush in the second. Allen had deep coverage over the top on Witten when Romo threw out of bounds just before the half. He was blocked out of the play on Murray's 21-yard scoot in the third.
Chip Kelly said Monday that Brad Smith was primarily responsible for the opening-kickoff muff that was charged to Josh Huff. The film shows Smith motioning to Huff to field it and then going ahead to block without realizing that the ball had landed two yards away from him. But Huff, who took blame after the game, also seemed at fault. He pulled up and let the ball bounce when it was clear that Smith could not field it. The Eagles' coverage teams were solid, but special teams overall had three penalties (Huff one and Nolan Carroll two).