The Eagles mauled the Saints yesterday and made a statement as the team moved to 5-6 on the season. The win was a team effort, but it was hard to see it happening without some key contributions from the rookies.
DeVonta Smith: B+
While the gameplan clearly prioritized pounding the rock, DeVonta Smith still made some key contributions in the passing game. Smith caught four passes for 61 yards, including a deep crosser where he broke a tackle and picked up some extra yards. It was the Eagles biggest passing play of the day. He had another catch on a short pass where he bounced off a tackler in the red zone and almost kept his footing to score.
It wasn’t a dominant game by any means, but Smith continues to be steady, reliable, and able to convert targets into even bigger plays. It was exactly the game the team needed from him, given their game plan.
Landon Dickerson: A+
This was Landon Dickerson’s game. The rookie guard had a stellar fourth quarter where he helped pave the way for the Eagles 242 rushing yards against the best run defense in the NFL.
Dickerson continues to be a physical player who brings the hammer on every snap. He looks as confident as he has all season. It is clear the team’s commitment to running the ball has helped him get comfortable and aggressive, which has carried over into his newfound consistency as a pass blocker.
The Eagles left side of their line, with Dickerson and Jordan Mailata, is turning into a defensive lineman’s worst nightmare. Just two guys who love to spend 75 snaps a game just kicking ass.
Milton Williams: C+
Milton Williams did not have a lot of opportunity to stand out yesterday, but he did have some nice moments in the short time he spent on the field. He contributed as a run defender and had a nice pursuit on Trevor Siemian to pressure the quarterback into a bad throw.
Even with an encouraging sample size, the team is opting to keep Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox on the field as much as possible. This obviously makes sense considering their investment in those two players, but one wonders if Jonathan Gannon should want to keep a heavier rotation to keep the line fresh throughout the game.
Zech McPhearson: B
A late game head injury for Darius Slay forced Zech McPhearson into action as an outside cornerback. The rookie responded well by generally not allowing any big plays, which is all anyone could want from McPhearson at this stage in his career.
There is no replacing Darius Slay if he can’t go next Sunday, but Zech McPhearson has been encouraging at this point if the Eagles need to call on him again.
Kenneth Gainwell: N/A
Kenneth Gainwell was a healthy scratch. It is no surprise given Miles Sanders’ return and his playtime decreasing for the last month. Gainwell has proven to be a liability as a pass blocker, which makes it hard to get on the field. Though, with Jordan Howard going down with injury yesterday, Gainwell might be back in the lineup next week.
Even with Howard healthy, it is surprising the team can’t find a way to get Gainwell on the field. The rookie hasn’t set the world on fire, but he proved early in the season that he can be dynamic with the ball in his hands. Especially given his pass catching ability, the Eagles should even consider giving him wide receiver snaps they would otherwise give to Jalen Reagor.
Marlon Tuipulotu: N/A
Inactive for the seventh time this season.
Patrick Johnson: B+
Despite not getting any play on defense, Patrick Johnson was excellent on kickoff coverage. Deonte Harris is a dangerous kick returner and Johnson had no problem containing him.
Tarron Jackson: B
Tarron Jackson actually out-snapped Milton Williams yesterday. The rookie defensive end got a healthy dose of playing time and looked generally solid as a run defender. The staff is clearly high on Jackson as his play time is steadily increasing this season. He has yet to make an impact in the stat sheet, but that could be coming next.
Jack Stoll: B+
The Eagles continued deploying two and three tight end sets yesterday to pound the ball against the Saints. Jack Stoll remains a factor as a run blocker. The Eagles use Stoll as a move and in-line blocker and he looks great. He has clearly carved out a role on this team as blocking specialist.