Pro Football Focus releases the top five graded players from each team after every single NFL game. Here’s what PFF had to say about the Philadelphia Eagles following their Week 9 win over the Denver Broncos.
C Jason Kelce, 90.5 overall grade
DI Fletcher Cox, 88.8 overall grade
Edge Brandon Graham, 87.8 overall grade
S Malcolm Jenkins, 86.5 overall grade
LB Mychal Kendricks, 83.6 overall grade
This isn’t the first time this season Carson Wentz has been oddly absent from the top five. Wentz went 15/27 for 199 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 118.7 passer rating against the league’s best defense. He essentially did all of this in just three quarters played.
Shot 8 - A couple of dimes from Wentz. First one came in 2-minute drill. Makes throws like this on a weekly basis, believe it or not! pic.twitter.com/nmM13Kum84— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) November 6, 2017
I don’t know how that’s not top five worthy, but let’s get to the top performers listed here.
PFF has been very high on Kelce this year. He’s their No. 1 overall center. Kelce’s had some issues in pass protection, according to them, but he’s been a strong run blocker. Kelce helped pave the way for the 197 rushing yards the Eagles put up on a Denver defense that was only allowing 72.9 per game heading into Sunday. Kelce could be headed to the Pro Bowl again this season.
The Man Dog was a beast on Sunday. And it’s not like he just dominated some scrub.
Fletcher Cox had the exact opposite game of Brandon Graham, while he was good in the run game, he absolutely tore into the interior of the Broncos offensive line to record 1 hit and 7 hurries on just 25 pass-rush plays for an insane 24.0 pass-rushing productivity score. What more, he did this against Ronald Leary, who had not given up more than one pressure in a game this season. Leary gave up 6 pressures against Cox.
The frustrating part is that Cox would’ve had even more pressures if he didn’t miss three days of voluntary OTA practices in the spring. (Just joking.)
For real, though, Cox has been great. He has 32 total pressures (five sacks, seven hits, 20 hurries) in 215 pass rush snaps played. That ranks as the second best pressure rate among interior defenders in the NFL.
The Eagles’ defense has been successful when it comes to stopping the run and rushing the passer. Cox is a big part of that.
Here’s what PFF had to say about one of their most favorite players.
In a game which was dominated by the defensive line of the Eagles, Brandon Graham actually had his fewest pressures since Week 3 with just 2 hurries, however, he still was able to be dominant in the run game, recording 5 tackles, all 5 being for stops in the run game. He was a menace, especially when the Broncos tried to use a tight end to block him.
Yeah, I’d say using a tight end to block Graham is a huge mistake.
This is one of my favorite plays by Graham in this game. He totally knew what was coming and started moving to make the tackle before the ball was even snapped.
Usually BG makes the chase downs unblocked. The broncos try him with a tight end and it goes about how you'd expect. pic.twitter.com/VO1RjFgwPV— Tyler Jackson (@TjackRH) November 6, 2017
Graham is a very big part of why the Eagles have the best run defense in the NFL. He ranks as PFF’s second overall edge rusher this season. He’s 10th in pressure rate and second overall in run stop percentage (stops constitute a "loss" for the offense.)
First overall at stopping the run? That’s Eagles rookie defensive end Derek Barnett (nine stops in 55 run snaps). And then Vinny Curry is third.
Jenkins finished the game with three tackles (two solo), two passes defensed, and one quarterback hit. The veteran safety is such a key player in the Eagles’ defense. Philadelphia has been using him in a linebacker role in some looks since Jordan Hicks has gone down.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a lot of praise for Jenkins last week.
Q. S Malcolm Jenkins has played so many roles for you guys. Just what he does in that dime look where you go with three safeties, how are his responsibilities different than what he normally does?
JIM SCHWARTZ: He’s played that spot in all our coverages anyway. It’s just a different personnel group. He’s played safety for us, well-documented; he’s played nickel for us, well-documented; and he’s played the dime and he’s played sort of a linebacker-type role, so he’s a do-it-all player. He’s good in the box. He’s good in the deep part of the field. He’s a very valuable guy to have and he gives you a lot of flexibility to be able to handle things that come up within a season, within a game plan and in the course of a game.
Q. How rare is that versatility?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, it’s something that we value. That corner-safety flexibility, No. 1, but one thing we don’t talk a lot about is that safety-linebacker flexibility, sort of an old-school NFL. It’s pretty rare to find guys that can do all three. Malcolm is one of them.
Kendricks had four tackles (two solo), two passes defensed, and one quarterback hit in this game. Would you believe that he ranks 13th out of 108 linebackers this season? Because he does. Kendricks ranks second among 4-3 outside linebackers in pressure rate (7 pressures in 30 pass rush snaps), seventh in run stop percentage, and 14th in coverage. Really strong year for him.
Two more offensive Eagles players made honorable mention in this game: Jay Ajayi and Alshon Jeffery.
First up, the Jay Train, who rushed for 77 yards and one touchdown on just eight carries.
Ajayi was handed the ball eight times in his Eagles debut, but the small workload didn’t prevent him from making an impact. He had a 46 yard touchdown run, and averaged 3.4 yards after contact on his seven other runs. It’s early, but it looks like he’s going to make the most out of running behind a better offensive line in Philadelphia.
Ajayi ranks eighth in “Elusive Rating” this year (LeGarrette Blount ranks first), which boils down a runner's success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers. Ajayi has forced 24 missed/broken tackles on 152 total touches. Here’s just one example. Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall (No. 54) doesn’t stand a chance.
Ajayi gives an already explosive offense ANOTHER weapon to work with. Crazy.
Switching gears, here’s what PFF had to say about Alshon.
Jeffery had maybe his best game of the season, picking up 84 yards on six catches, including two touchdowns against Aqib Talib. He did drop one pass though, and was called for holding downfield on a long run by Corey Clement.
There are definitely some miscues that Jeffery needs to clean up, but it’s encouraging how Wentz and him seem to be getting on same page. Jeffery did a great job of selling the fake on his first touchdown.
No Eagles on this list. Just wanted to include this write-up on Brock Osweiler.
Brock Osweiler had a chance to revive his career after his struggles in the past 18 months. However against the fierce pass-rush of the Eagles, Osweiler failed to get the Broncos offense going. He only threw two interceptions but had many more turnover worthy plays and when he was pressured (22 of 41 dropbacks) he completed just 42.1 percent of his passes.
I’m also including Pro Football Focus in the dishonorable section on this list. I already touched on the Wentz thing, but their grade for Von Miller makes no sense.
Edge Von Miller, 92.3 overall grade
Miller had five total pressures, including a forced fumble on a sack on 27 pass-rushes, and was one of two Broncos defenders with multiple pressures. He was even better against the run, where he had six run-defense stops, tied for the most in a single game this season among edge defenders.
PFF had Miller as the top overall graded player from this game. That’s silly.
First of all, his strip-sack came on a play where he was probably offside.
And then there’s the fact that Doug Pederson essentially schemed him out of the game. Really good film breakdown from BGN alumnus Jimmy Kempski here.
On Sunday, the Eagles had a plan for Miller, and they executed it brilliantly.
In the stat sheet, Miller appeared to have a great day. He had 8 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and a sack/fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Miller was indeed good against the run, however, those stats are wildly deceiving, as Miller was a complete non-factor as a pass rusher until the game was completely out of hand and the Eagles had already put in their third-string RT.
Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, and the Eagles' offensive brain trust used a variety of ways to slow Miller down.
This a good example of why PFF is far from perfect. I think they do some interesting stuff, but this is a situation where important context went missing.