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Grades not good after disappointing loss

Position-by-position grading of the Eagles after their 48-30 loss to the Vikings on Sunday, focusing on one player at each spot:

Position-by-position grading of the Eagles after their 48-30 loss to the Vikings on Sunday, focusing on one player at each spot:


Quarterback - C+

Nick Foles' numbers were gaudy, but many of the passing yards were hollow. He made a handful of impressive throws but also came up small in several key spots.

First the good: Foles stood in against the blitz and took a shot after he hit DeSean Jackson for 17 yards on third down in the first quarter. He lofted a pass to Jackson for 20 yards on a wheel route on the next play. In the second, he avoided pressure and threw across his body to Jackson for 21 yards. He made a similar throw to Jason Avant for 13 yards on third down in the third. Foles floated a strike to Jackson in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown in the third. He ran for 41 yards on five carries but failed to pick up a yard on a third-and-1 keeper in the second.

Now the bad: Foles overthrew Avant in the first, underthrew a wide-open Riley Cooper deep in the second, then overshot Avant and one-hopped Cooper on back-to-back plays in the third. His peel-back block on a fourth-down double reverse nullified a touchdown. Foles held onto the ball too long in the third and took a sack on third down. He held onto the ball an extra beat later in the quarter and threw into coverage and was intercepted. He was not accurate on fourth-quarter over-the-top attempts to Zach Ertz.

Running back - B

A week after he ran for 217 yards on 29 carries, LeSean McCoy was held to eight tries for 38 yards by . . . Chip Kelly. McCoy had success with the shotgun toss the first two times Kelly called it, running for 16 and 7 yards. The Eagles went back to the same play on third and 1 in the third, but the Vikings sniffed it out. On fourth and 1 a play later, McCoy ran into a wall and couldn't convert. He had success in the screen game. Three of his five catches were screen passes that totaled 60 yards.

Wide receiver - B+

DeSean Jackson was excellent. He was targeted 16 times and caught a variety of 10 passes for 195 yards. The best were a 17-yard comebacker on which he took a hit, a 16-yard pickup out of the backfield on third down, a 15-yard sideline grab, a 30-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown catch and a 51-yard, highlight-reel play in which he eluded three would-be tacklers.

Tight end - B

For the first time this season, Zach Ertz played more snaps than Brent Celek. Running more plays out of passing sets was the likely reason. Ertz caught a number of passes underneath on crossing routes. He picked up 17 yards in the third quarter when he charged upfield. His one-handed touchdown grab in the third quarter was breathtaking.

Line - B

Foles had more than enough time in the pocket for most of the day. The run blocking on the back-to-back third- and fourth-down-and-short attempts in the third was not crisp. Jason Peters was to blame for three of four sacks, according to Pro Football Focus, but only on one was he truly beaten by Jared Allen. But when your quarterback drops back to throw 55 times and you're facing a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, there are going to be a few sacks.


Line - C

The line did a fine job holding an Adrian Peterson-less Vikings running game to 2.4 yards a carry, but the unit couldn't sustain enough pressure on quarterback Matt Cassel. Kelly praised Fletcher Cox, but he had only one hurry in 39 pass-rush attempts. The end hit Cassel's arm in the first, but he shrugged off Cox and hit Greg Jennings for a 57-yard touchdown. The Eagles credited Cox with seven solo stops against the run. Cassel ran for a touchdown through a hole vacated by Cox on a draw play in the third.

Outside linebackers - C

Trent Cole was good against the run but got little pressure on passing plays. He had three tackles for losses against the run. He was credited with one hurry. He was called for a neutral-zone infraction in the second.

Inside linebackers - C

Mychal Kendricks had a team-high 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and an interception. He shed a blocker nicely in the first and dropped running back Matt Asiata near the line. He picked up a sack with an "A" gap rush. He was beaten by tight end Chase Ford on third and 14 in the fourth, when he unwisely went for an interception.

Cornerbacks - F

Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams had forgetful days. Fletcher was targeted 10 times and allowed eight catches for 134 yards. He was also called for two pass-interference penalties. He had good coverage but still allowed a 42-yard catch by Jarius Wright in the third.

Safeties - F

Patrick Chung and the safeties had a rough day. He tried to jump a screen pass in the flat but left his assignment and Ford caught an 18-yard pass. He was beaten by Jennings out of the slot on the 57-yard touchdown. Nate Allen was late to help. Chung was benched the next series for Kurt Coleman but returned when Coleman left with a hamstring injury. He was called for unnecessary roughness when he made a high tackle near the sideline.


Alex Henery was 3 of 3 on field goals, including a season-high 51-yarder, but he was inconsistent with his short kicks that were meant to avoid Cordarrelle Patterson. Three pooch kicks landed on average at the 22 and were returned to the 28. Two squib kicks went on average to the 28 and were returned to the 42.

Stat sheet

The Eagles offense is second-to-last in the league in red-zone efficiency, converting 22 of 48 possessions (45.8 percent) inside the 20 into touchdowns.

Alex Henery's 80.8 field-goal percentage (21 of 26) is 20th in the NFL through Sunday's games.

The Eagles defense blitzed Matt Cassel on 15 of 40 drops. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 264 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted once.

Locker room leftovers

Chip Kelly confirmed that wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell got into an altercation with DeSean Jackson on the sideline after Nick Foles tossed a pass to the receiver that was intercepted.

Jackson was caught by cameras yelling at Bicknell and had to be held back by several teammates. Kelly said after the game that he would get to the bottom of what occurred.

"Yeah, we handled all those things," Kelly said on Monday. "I talked to Bobby. I'll talk to DeSean and we'll get things straightened out. It's not as big a deal as I think everybody wants to make it out to be."

Kelly didn't seem concerned about Jackson's attempt (or lack thereof) to break up the interception, but he wasn't asked about whether he thought the receiver made the effort to tackle Vikings cornerback Shaun Prater.

Riley Cooper, who was one of the players who intervened between Jackson and Bicknell, said the spat was not a big deal.

"You know how it goes in the heat of the battle," Cooper said. "When someone gets an interception, I'd be mad, too. Heat of the battle, everybody's done it."

On the drive after the Eagles cut the lead to 27-22, the Vikings advanced to the Eagles 42. But they faced a third and 14. Mychal Kendricks was in man-to-man defense and had tight end Chase Ford off the line. Beaten, he stretched out for a pass over the middle and missed. Ford turned and eluded safety Colt Anderson, who dove and whiffed, and wound up with a 37-yard gain.

"I'm like, 'Please, no. Please,' " Kendricks said after he went for the interception. "Colt missed a tackle. If Colt makes a tackle, we're off the field. It was a busted play from the jump involving me. I need to make that play."

Ford caught the pass beyond the first down marker, then ran an additional 20 yards down to the Eagles 5. The Vikings scored a touchdown two plays later.

Extra point

Through 14 games, the Eagles defense has played a league-high 1,023 plays, significantly more than the league average of 914.2 for the 30 teams that played through Sunday.

Chip Kelly was asked if Sunday's woeful defensive performance against the Vikings had any correlation to the number of snaps.

"No, I don't believe that," he said.

But defensive coordinator Bill Davis acknowledged earlier this season that he was concerned about the high number of snaps and that he would try to do a better job of spelling workhorses DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin, Mychal Kendricks, Nate Allen and Cary Williams.

All three have played more than 95 percent of the snaps this season in games in which they started or were not injured. For all the talk about Kelly's sports science program and the Eagles' lack of injuries, the high snap count could offset the apparently improved conditioning of the players.

The Eagles' chances of making the playoffs will rest prominently on the defense. Despite all the hang-wringing about Kelly's decision to avoid Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs, or his run-pass disparity, or his gambling on fourth and 1 at his own 24, the Eagles lost on Sunday because their defense could not stop a very hot Matt Cassel.

It's difficult to say if the performance of the pass defense was an aberration, or an exposure, or the result of playing more than 100 plays than the average NFL defense.