We watched the Eagles beat the Giants. Here’s what we saw:
Pass offense: C+
There were a few highs, and plenty of lows, through the air on Thursday night.
Nelson Agholor started his night with a terrible drop, launching the ball into the turf despite it hitting him directly in the hands. Later on, though, Agholor beat his man and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Wentz, earning the adoration of the Eagles faithful if only for a few moments.
He was largely useless the rest of the evening, however, and looked for the majority of the evening to be out of place on an NFL field. The rest of Wentz’s receiving corps looked largely similar, as they have all season long. Multiple times Wentz scrambled for upwards of seven or eight seconds, and when he stalled and looked down field, no receivers had managed to work themselves open. When your receivers can’t find separation after eight seconds, you have no chance. Wentz has no chance.
The rookie wasn’t perfect, either. He made a few questionable decisions after said scrambles, throwing one interception and nearly tossing another as he looked for huge gains after winding himself by evading defenders all across the back field. Wentz still has to learn when to simply take a loss as a loss.
Run offense: B-
The Eagles’ first play of the game was a run, off right tackle, for a 16-yard gain behind Lane Johnson, who looked very much like himself after missing 10 games due to suspension. Johnson had a good first game back, clearing the way most of the night for whomever carried the ball.
After that first carry, though, Ryan Mathews struggled to find much of a rhythm, finishing with just 46 yards on 18 carries, a startlingly low yards-per-carry average. Darren Sproles ran once in the first half, for a 25-yard touchdown, on the first drive of the game, and then a few more times in the second half, picking up yards in tight spots and juking past defenders as he so often does.
Overall, it was a solid game for the Eagles on the ground. They didn’t run it enough, especially considering they leapt out to an early 14-0 lead. The run/play balance should have been heavily tipped towards the run after the start they had. Still, when Doug Pederson called run plays, the offensive line made enough things happen for the ground game to be a viable threat.
Pass defense: C+
Malcolm Jenkins had a great evening. He intercepted an oft-unfocused Eli Manning twice, returning one for a touchdown, and was generally all over the field on Thursday evening.
Outside of Jenkins, however, the Eagles’ secondary was its usual spotty self. Leodis McKelvin was exposed multiple times by both Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr., Nolan Carroll was equally inconsistent, and Jaylen Watkins looked like a player who didn’t belong on the field.
And things could’ve been much worse. Beckham Jr. dropped a few passes in the early going, including one over the middle in the red zone on a third down which would’ve kept a Giants drive alive. New York only picked up three points on a drive which could’ve otherwise yielded seven.
It’s always hard to go against a talent like Beckham Jr. As one of the best receivers in the league, and only the second receiver in league history to pile up 4,000 yards in the first three seasons of his career, you’re going to give things up. The third-year wideout finished with 150 yards on 11 catches.
There were times when Jim Schwartz’s secondary needed to be better, and it simply wasn’t. But they got a few stops in the clutch, and that made all the difference.
Run defense: C-
New York used a fairly balanced rushing attack, divvying carries up between Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins fairly evenly, and both backs had decent success against an Eagles defensive line that’s supposed to be the defense’s centerpiece.
Multiple times, Jennings and Perkins found big holes through the teeth of the defense, picking up big chunks and moving the chains. Fletcher Cox had a good game generating pressure up the middle, but the rest of the defensive line didn’t always follow suit.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Eagles’ run defense; just when you think they have things figured out, they go and let a Giants offense with no discernible lead back rack up over 100 yards on the ground. Jim Schwartz’s defense has now allowed 100-yard rushing performances from three straight opponents, and they face the Cowboys next week.
Not the best way to close out a season.