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 15 win over the New York Giants.
DI Fletcher Cox, 88.1 overall grade
C Jason Kelce, 86.4 overall grade
S Corey Graham, 84.1 overall grade
LB Mychal Kendricks, 82.8 overall grade
Edge Vinny Curry, 82.5 overall grade
Cox didn’t really show up in the traditional box score. He only had two tackles (one solo) and that’s it. He did have a sack on Eli Manning during a Giants two-point conversion attempt, which doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Here’s what PFF had to say about Cox.
Cox played a huge role in the Giants’ run-game struggles in Week 15, finishing the game with a near-elite 88.6 grade in run defense. He only tallied one stop on the afternoon but he was a disruptive force all afternoon, routinely beating blocks to clog points of attack and make holes disappear. Cox also recorded four pressures (three hurries and a sack), making Week 15 the ninth time this season he’s had at least three pressures.
PFF believes Cox played better than the numbers would indicate, which isn’t untypical for him.
Cox ranks fourth out of 121 defensive tackles graded this season. The only three players ahead of him: Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, Ndamukong Suh.
Give the big man up front some love, as Kelce dominated once again in the run game as he continually paved the way for Eagles’ running backs. Reaching 1- and 3-techs on outside zone, Kelce’s quickness was too much for the Giants interior defensive linemen. Kelce was better than usual in pass protection, getting beat just once on 40 pass-block snaps.
On Tuesday, Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich highlighted Kelce (along with Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks) for having a Pro Bowl season. Doug Pederson also praised Kelce earlier this week.
“Listen, his athleticism to do that or to snake up to second-level defenders, haven't seen too many centers do what he can do from an athletic standpoint,” said the Eagles’ head coach. “He's having a heck of a year doing that. Even on a nicked up ankle, he's still been able to go out there and do it in practice during the week and it's paying off for him in the game. It's a valuable asset to have from your center position.”
Just look at these blocks!
Shot 10 - Closing out with a handful of plays from Jason Kelce who was just RIDICULOUS in this game vs the Giants. Look at some of these blocks from this game and you can see the impact he has on the #Eagles offense. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/sTJJ9KexSp— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 18, 2017
Graham had the crucial coverage on Evan Engram to force the Giants to turn the ball over on 4th-and-goal in the end zone. Clutch.
Graham was on the field for 53 defensive snaps against the Giants this week. His season high entering Sunday was 41 snaps back in Week 2, and he hadn’t been on the field for more than 23 snaps since Week 7. The veteran took advantage of the extra playing time and turned it into a solid afternoon of coverage. Graham saw six targets into his coverage and allowed three of them to be caught for just 19 yards total, Eli Manning had just a 56.9 passer rating when targeting Graham in Week 15.
Graham saw more playing time in part because Patrick Robinson got hurt and Malcolm Jenkins had to move to the nickel corner role. That opened up snaps for the veteran Graham.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz singled out Graham as the only secondary player who didn’t give up a play in the Eagles-Giants game. He also said Graham tackled well.
PFF didn’t give an explanation for Kendricks’ performance. The stat sheet had him down for nine tackles (eight solo) but nothing else.
PFF likes Kendricks a lot. He ranks seventh out of 92 linebackers graded by them this season.
Curry finished the game with three tackles (one solo) and one quarterback hit. He also had a third down sack early in the game that was negated by a Jalen Mills holding penalty. Curry ranks 22nd out of 115 defensive ends.
PFF’s quarterback grades continue to baffle. Look at what they said about Nick Foles, who went 24/38 for 237 yards (6.2 average), 4 TD, 0 INT, and a 115.8 passer rating.
QB Nick Foles, 75.2 overall grade — The final statline looks like Foles picked up where Carson Wentz left off, but the journeyman backup making his first start since Week 9 of 2016 with Kansas City struggled throwing deep and outside the numbers right. Foles was able to connect on just one of his four deep targets while completing just two of six to the right of the hashes beyond 10 yards. When given a clean pocket, Foles picked apart the Giants secondary completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 6.7 yards per attempt and all four of his touchdowns. He put the ball in harm’s way on a couple of occasions but Foles managed the game well in place of Wentz.
I don’t think it’s totally crazy to say Foles could have played a sharper game. There were some missed throws and some interceptable passes. But it’s weird to see Foles get a grade like this when Dak Prescott posts the following stat-line ...
Here’s how Dak did against a Raiders defense that ranks last in the NFL by Football Outsiders. pic.twitter.com/mrHy76nWed— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 18, 2017
... and somehow gets a higher grade (85.7) than Foles!
I get that PFF doesn’t just use traditional stats to grade their players. But when the grades don’t even come close to reflecting the traditional stats, it’s odd.
Today’s QB efficiency (Adjusted Net Yards / Attempt):— sunset shazz (@sunset_shazz) December 18, 2017
Nick Foles 8.03
Dak Prescott 3.93#FolesIsBetter
Shot 1 - Nick Foles first TD came by targeting Alshon Jeffery on the backside of a 2-man route concept. Saw that was taken away, got to his next progression and was perfectly in-sync with Jeffery for a score in the back of the end zone #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/Z7fEQCozio— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 18, 2017
Shot 2 - #Eagles just doing what they've done all year long in the red zone, creating space for Zach Ertz to work and win a 1-on-1 matchup. Vs #Giants Cover 0 look he runs a great corner post, using his body to win at the catch point. Great timing from Foles vs pressure as well pic.twitter.com/t3pTS76cG4— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 18, 2017
Shot 5 - Wasn't always perfect for the #Eagles on third down but they executed when they needed to. Great job by Foles on both plays of getting the ball out quickly to help create YAC. OL was outstanding on both reps as well. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/rXn1EXM0Uc— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 18, 2017
Shot 6 - Nick Foles can't run RPOs? Nick Foles can't make throws on the run? Didn't take long to squash that. Again - not saying he's Wentz - but he can make the throws needed in this offense #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/oXNWK3Ilcg— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 18, 2017
PFF didn’t mention it in there article but I gave some thoughts on their Vaitai grade that I’d like to share again.
According to PFF, Big V actually had a really bad game:
“Vaitai was not kind to Nick Foles and recorded the lowest game grade (28.8) of his season thus far while allowing 1 sack, 3 QB hits, and a hurry on 40 pass block snaps.”
In his last five starts at left tackle, Vaitai has allowed an NFL-high 26 total pressures. Yikes. I’m not sure that Will Beatty would be much better, and I’m not sure the Eagles would even give him a chance if Vaitai is healthy, but that might be a change to consider. At the very least, the Eagles should look to get Beatty some snaps in the final two weeks, especially if the games are meaningless. If he plays well, the Eagles should consider a swap.
Vaitai now ranks 78th out of 85 offensive tackles in 2017. Only two of those players have a worse pass blocking grade. Vaitai has allowed 36 pressures in 377 pass block snaps, which is the third worst Pass Blocking Efficiency rating of any NFL offensive tackle.