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Eagles Rookie Report Card: Linemen shine in Lions beatdown

Keeping tabs on Philly’s 2021 NFL Draft class.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Eagles got a resounding and satisfying win against the hapless Detroit Lions yesterday. The win came on the back of Philadelphia dominating both sides of the ball and impressive showings from the whole team. Among those who shined, some of the brightest performances were from Eagles rookies.

DeVonta Smith: C

There were high hopes that DeVonta Smith would show out against a vulnerable Detroit defense. However, the Eagles had other plans as they took to the ground game for four quarters and only targeted Smith three times out of the team’s 16 pass attempts. Smith’s first target was a bad drop on a short pass, which killed a drive. Later, he hauled in an impressive sideline catch, his lone catch of the game.

Obviously, a big game for Smith wasn’t in the cards given the team’s game plan.

Landon Dickerson: A

After weeks of frustrating play from Landon Dickerson, it was encouraging to see him kick some ass against the Detroit defense. Dickerson was a beneficiary of the Eagles play calling. With 46 team rush attempts on the day, Dickerson got to move downhill and play aggressively for all four quarters.

Dickerson has been plagued by a shuffling line around him and uneven play calling. His game against Detroit was a testament to the importance of running the ball. Not just for the sake of things like ball control and relieving pressure from the passing game, but also for the sake of getting your offensive line to play aggressively and confidently. On Sunday, Dickerson looked like the player the Eagles hoped he would be when they drafted him.

Milton Williams: A

Milton Williams feasted on Detroit’s weak offensive line. The third round pick looked like a different player Sunday, not just because of his opponent, but because of how he was deployed on the field.

Williams has seen so much time two-gapping in three man fronts, something that minimizes his aggression and athleticism while instead asking him to control blocks and help linebackers flow to the ball. Whenever the Eagles would use four man fronts, typically Williams was off the field in favor of Javon Hargrove and Fletcher Cox playing defensive tackle.

Against Detroit, WIlliams saw much more time shooting gaps from the defensive tackle position and even seeing time as a base-defensive end in four man fronts. The results were excellent.

On a fourth down, no less, Williams bullied an offensive lineman and ended the Detroit Lions drive with a sack. The first of his career. On top of his pass rushing productivity, Williams picked up some tackles for a loss and overall was a huge factor in shutting down the Lions running game.

Williams showed off that he can be much more that a space eater in the Eagles defense. With his athleticism, Milton Williams has what it takes to be a legit playmaker.

Zech McPhearson: N/A

McPhearson was inactive due to injury.

Kenneth Gainwell: C

One of the head-scratching aspects of the Lions game was the Eagles not immediately going to Kenneth Gainwell in the running game. After he has proven himself valuable as a running back to start his career, the Eagles went to Boston Scott and Jordan Howard to fill in the shoes of an injured Miles Sanders.

The results were excellent for the team, as the Eagles dominated Detroit on the ground. Though it is curious that Philly started the game out with Scott and Howard despite how little they have been a part of the team this year. Gainwell got some work later in the game, but didn’t see consecutive carries the way his teammates did. Consecutive carries which can be crucial for a running back to find their rhythm.

It could be a sign that the team does not see Gainwell as being a lead back, which feels like an underestimation of his talent. How the team treats Gainwell in Miles Sanders’ absence feels like it will heavily indicate how they view him overall.

Marlon Tuipulotu: B

Eagles depth players saw the field in the fourth quarter as the game was out of reach for Detroit. Marlon Tuipulotu got some snaps at defensive tackle and, like his teammates, looked really solid and held his own against the Lions.

Take it with a grain of salt given the situation he was put into, but it was nice to see the young defender get some quality snaps and play well.

Patrick Johnson: D

With Eric Wilson being a healthy scratch yesterday, I was curious if Patrick Johnson would see more snaps at linebacker. He didn’t. The Eagles opted for Davion Taylor and TJ Edwards to get the majority of the linebacker snaps, to mostly good results.

It’s discouraging to see the team phase Johnson out at this point in the season and one wonders if he will find his way back on the field this year.

Tarron Jackson: A

Tarron Jackson was another Eagles defensive lineman who had some highlights against the Lions. Late in the game, Jackson put the spin move on the Lions offensive tackle to pick up a sack and a forced fumble!

Once again. Grain of salt. But it’s always awesome to see a rookie get a first sack like that.

Jack Stoll: A

Sunday was quietly a fantastic game from Jack Stoll. The Eagles’ plan to grind Detroit’s defense into dust with the ground game needed all the blockers it could get. Jack Stoll was crucial to this plan and played his ass off as a blocker every time he was on the field.

As a reward for being such an important blocker, Jack Stoll picked up his first career catch late in the game!

Not bad!