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Eagles v. Titans — 18 winners, losers, and I dunnos

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I don’t think I’m as upset as everyone else? I don’t know

Philadelphia Eagles v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Winners

The Tennessee Titans

Because they won the football game, in really quite magnificent a fashion, the Titans are a winners.

Sisters

They don’t have to kiss us now, because there was no tie.

Malcolm Jenkins

Or as I like to call him, the good player in the secondary.

Really, that’s not fair to Sidney Jones, who has been playing quite well, or Ronald Darby, who is still a solid cover man despite his struggles tackling. But man, Philadelphia’s secondary seems totally bereft of impact plays — especially in McLeod’s absence — save for Jenkins’ regular 4Q/OT PBUs or TFLs or tackles short of the sticks that always seem to show up.

Jenkins nearly single-handedly stopped the Titans on that overtime drive. Shout-out Malc.

Mike Vrabel

Even in the wells of sorrow, we have to recognize Mike Vrabel taking the timeout to get his kicking unit off the field and win the game as a huge win for the Doug Pederson mindset of coaching...and thereby a quasi-win for the Eagles? Work with me here.

Derek Barnett

This is the best rush move and finish I’ve seen from Barnett in an Eagles jersey. Great play against a great opponent, and worthy of a shout-out given how critical I’ve been of his game.

Wendell Smallwood (when the ball was in his hands)

Continuing in our general theme of “players Ben doesn’t think is very good who had some good flashes today,” big ups to Wendell Smallwood, who has impressed in his reps filling in for Corey Clement and Darren Sproles.

His 8 total touches for 54 yards won’t really blow the roof off for anyone, but I thought he modeled some nice physicality with the ball in his hand, and had enough explosiveness to extend a couple of plays through the first level. Smallwood kinda is what he is at this point, but that was a good day for him.

Scroll down to find out how I feel about Smallwood without the ball in his hands.

Jake Elliott

Don’t tell me you weren’t positive Elliott was going to miss one of those three chip shot field goals today.

Alshon Jeffery

Shame that Alshon isn’t a high-impact receiver in the NFL — otherwise, he would have gone for 105 yards on 8 catches and probably put up a score as well.

Jeffery looked stellar in his return to the active roster, playing with characteristic big-boy physicality and winning with the ball in the air, whether tracking it or posting up. Jeffery caught 8 of the 9 targets thrown his way, which speaks to how well Carson was getting the ball to a catchable spot for his best receiver. Speaking of which:

Carson Wentz

An appropriate last winner, in that he was the best: Carson looked fantastic against the Titans — much better than he did against the Colts. He stilled missed a throw or two here — there are bolts to tightens and hinges to oil — but overall you can’t expect much more from a player still only in his 31st start (that’s easy to forget!)

I do think Carson is a little unwilling to extend plays with his legs — whether because he’s just getting back into the inherent feel of when it’s appropriate to do so, or because he’s worried about his mobility, I have no idea. That 3rd and 3 prayer to Jordan Matthews in the waning moments of regulation stands out as a rollout to create opportunity that wasn’t taken.

Losers

The Eagles

Woulda been cool to sneak away with it; okay with the fact that we didn’t. It’s an early, out of conference road game. Maybe it’ll be a bit of a gut check for a talented team that’s been struggling to execute.

I’m not really sure about the “deserve to lose” talk that’s very prevalent right now. Eagles made a ton of mistakes and had more than a few plays break the other way. It was generally a chaotic game with manny consecutive tipping points. Everyone deserved to lose; everyone deserved to win.

Welcome to the NFL.

Corey Graham

Man, I have no words.

The only argument for rostering and playing Corey Graham is that he’s supposedly this established veteran who knows what he’s doing and understands the defense. But to be this unaware situationally seems to fly in the face of that stance.

There is only one receiver to your side. The back is chipping the defensive end and not releasing upfield. You have a 15 yard mark to clear, so a catch and run would be insanely difficult.

Corey Graham has, undoubtedly, the easiest job on the field on this play.

This is not an isolated incident. Graham was regularly manipulated when playing the McLeod role in Cover 3, and has struggled all season as an underneath zone defender in coverage. He made a good TFL on a screen play, and I was glad to see that — but widely, he is a liability on the field, and that was exposed today.

Nelson Agholor

Just a rough outing for Aggy, which is okay — those happen. I can remember three drops for Nelson, and while not every pass was perfect, you’d like to see impact plays on a day like today from your only 100% healthy wide receiver.

Approaching a contract year and presented with the opportunity for significant volume given the Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins injuries, Agholor has generally disappointed. He’s obviously better than he was, and fills a nice role as that jet sweep/space guy for Philly. I just wish he could be more.

Jalen Mills

The extend to which Mills is a loser is a bit conditional on a return to his film — I feel as if the huge deep ball on the go-ahead drive to Corey Davis is a little bit more on the shoulders of Graham/Ronald Darby than it is on Jalen, but without the All-22 I’m not sure.

That said, Mills is good for at least 3 chunk plays per game, if not by completion than by pass interference, for an offense. He is officially a liability; a target. I’m not sure what the solution is yet, but this can’t go on for too much longer.

Wendell Smallwood (as a pass-blocker)

WOW. AWFUL.

The reality of facing stunting defensive lines is that pressure is going to arrive. You’re going to give up hits and sacks. It’s impossible to win what is essentially an educated guessing game for four straight quarters.

Now you can mitigate the issue with a great rushing attack (check), a heavy quick/screen game (check), and good pass protection from your running backs (uh).

Smallwood didn’t know what he was looking at back there. Never has, and couldn’t have been expected to here. Eagles best two pass-protecting backs were riding the bench today. Couldn’t have been a worse week for it.

The Eagles red zone offense

I dunno

Doug Pederson

Things Doug did that I liked:

  • Punting it with 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter at his own 42
  • Play-call on 3rd and 4 (incomplete to Zach Ertz, who asked for a flag) on that same drive
  • Play-call on 1st and 10 on overtime drive (incomplete fade to Alshon Jeffery)
  • Play-call on 3rd and 3 (incomplete deep to Jordan Matthews, who was about the ninth read on the play) on the same drive; play design was to go underneath

Things Doug did that I did not like:

  • Run on 3rd and 3 with 11 seconds left in the 1st half on the Tennessee 11
  • Not call time-out after 1st and 10 run for Tennessee on Titans’ final drive of regulation
  • Lack of middle-of-the-field intermediate throws on overtime drive in red zone (short incompletion to Nelson Agholor on 2nd down; forced incompletion to Zach Ertz on 3rd down)
  • General dedication to running the ball on 2nd down

Gonna go back to the film, obviously, but I didn’t think Doug had as bad of a day at the helm as it seems most do.

The offensive line

Lane Johnson got beat like a drum by a rookie, which always stings as a veteran. He’ll remember that one for a while. Jurrell Casey got the best of Jason Peters on a sack. I think Kelce/Wiz whiffed on a combo protection as well, though I can’t recall that play exactly. Smallwood, as we documented, was little help.

But generally the offensive line was a big plus in the running game, especially on that overtime drive. And the plays on which they sealed off great protection for Wentz — there were quite a few — will go unremembered. I’m excited to watch all of their reps and get a better feel for where improvements can be made. Their play is currently the biggest offensive concern besides health, in my opinion.

The defensive line

I was left a little disappointed by the DL’s play. Obviously there was a big sack on Mariota late, and pressure created the interception that became three points before the half. But as of right now, Graham isn’t healthy enough that the Eagles have that one go-to rusher when they just need a big play. I thought Fletcher Cox vanished a bit after his quick hiatus to the sideline — he was wearing a brace on his right arm. Destiny Vaeao is probably the worst “starter” on defense.

A lot of similar games have ended with Eagles W’s after the defensive line came up with a huge play late. Didn’t happen today, which is a bit disappointing (and telling).