Doug Pederson, Lane Johnson trending down, Wendell Smallwood trending up following Eagles’ loss to Vikings | Jeff McLane
Highs and lows from the Eagles' 23-21 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Here are the players and positions that are trending up and trending down.
DOWN — The Eagles coach was uneven as an offensive play caller and made several questionable decisions in game management. Pederson cost the team a timeout with a bad fourth-quarter challenge. And would it have made sense to have Jake Elliott kick a 58-yard field goal rather than punt with about nine minutes left in the game? Most significantly, his team is still playing sloppy football.
DOWN — Best tackle in the NFL? Johnson hasn't looked it recently. For the second week in a row, he allowed a strip sack. This fumble was returned 64 yards for a touchdown. Brutal.
DOWN — You can't, just can't — did I say can't? — fumble at the 5-yard line. The Eagles finally strung together a long drive on their opening series of the second half, and Ajayi coughed up the football on first-and-goal.
>> READ MORE: Jay Ajayi thinks the Eagles need to run the ball more
DOWN — The embattled cornerback declined interviews this past week. Mills said he would let his play on the field do the talking. He backed it up in the first half and played sound defense. But it took only one play in the second half for Adam Thielen to beat Mills deep against man coverage.
>> MARCUS HAYES: The Eagles' Super Bowl hangover just got even worse
SIDEWAYS — The Eagles quarterback continued to play well upon his return from knee surgery, but the results just haven't been there. Wentz was under duress again, and he had a bunch of elite throws, but he didn't capitalize on a late opportunity to put the Eagles ahead.
SIDEWAYS — A year after getting benched, Isaac Seumalo was back in the starting lineup in place of the struggling Stefen Wisniewski. Seumalo's first series was a disaster. He couldn't block the Vikings' Linval Joseph and gave up a sack. But he was steadier the rest of the way.
UP — He dropped an early third-down pass, but the running back made several stellar plays for the Eagles in the second half. Smallwood caught a 12-yard touchdown pass and dove inside the pylon for the two-point conversion.
UP — Maddox got the nod at free safety ahead of the 33-year-old Corey Graham. The rookie had some issues last week in his first game ever at the position. But he played solidly against the Vikings and could have a future in center field.
DOWN — The receiver came up with a clutch fourth-down grab on a back shoulder pass, but he couldn't pull in a few other tough grabs. The Eagles needed Jeffery to have a greater impact.
Roughing the passer
DOWN — The NFL has gone to great lengths to protect quarterbacks, and understandably so. They're the stars of the game. But it has increasingly come at the expense of the game. Michael Bennett was called for roughing the passer just before the half when he clearly hit Kirk Cousins above the knee. That was possibly a four-point penalty.
SIDEWAYS — Bennett's bogus penalty notwithstanding, the Eagles' front four didn't get home enough. There was pressure on Cousins, but he was sacked just once Sunday.
SIDEWAYS — The Eagles hyped Gibson's long ball ability when they drafted him in 2017, and there were glimpses in the preseason, but he finally delivered with a 48-yard grab in the first quarter. Too bad the Eagles could only capitalize with a field goal. And Gibson never caught another pass.