The Eagles went toe-to-toe with the Los Angeles Chargers yesterday in a tough, but encouraging loss. While not all things were perfect, the Eagles should head into the rest of the season confident about some of their rookies.
DeVonta Smith: A
DeVonta Smith showed exactly the type of player he can be for the Eagles against a talented Chargers secondary yesterday. The 10th overall pick caught five passes for 116 yards and a score, averaging over 23 yards a catch.
It wasn’t soft defense that allowed for Smith to put up numbers either. He was constantly getting open with great routes, making nice plays at the catch point and picking up yards after catch.
On all his big catches, Smith was either getting open with great routes, or making catches against coverage. These are the kind of plays a number one receiver makes in a big game like this.
Even with his gaudy stat line, Smith could have had some nicer numbers if not for errant throws.
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Even so, Smith was the engine of the passing offense and kept the Eagles in the game for four quarters. The Eagles finally seemed to get him targets down the field and he responded by delivering big plays.
While this is a tough performance to replicate, it is certainly an indicator of what he can do for this offense when used like a true receiver.
Landon Dickerson: A+
Landon Dickerson kicked the crap out of Los Angeles all game yesterday. Not only did Dickerson help catalyze a fantastic effort running the ball against the Chargers, but he also held his own against a talented pass rush to keep Jalen Hurts upright. The Eagles quarterback was sacked once yesterday and barely felt any pressure. Not bad considering the guys Los Angeles has going after quarterbacks on every down.
The second rounder finally looks settled in at the guard position, thanks in no small part to the Eagles play calling looking a lot more cohesive the last two weeks. The new trend to get the running game going has unlocked Landon Dickerson’s physicality and he looks like a completely different player.
Assuming the Eagles continue this encouraging trend of a balanced offense, Dickerson will continue to contribute as a physical, tone setter on their line.
Milton Williams: C
Milton Williams failed to match his performance from last week, but he did look really solid against the run on Sunday. His one tackle of the game came down in the red zone when he tossed his blocker out of the way to stone the running back at the line. The Chargers failed to convert their red zone appearance into points and Williams’ big play was a major factor.
Besides that, Williams and the rest of the defense did not have much of an impact on the Chargers. Justin Herbert passed on the team mostly at will, in part because pressure was never really there. The Eagles moved away from their blitz-reliant game plan from last week and opted to try traditional four man pressures to affect Herbert. Didn’t work.
Williams’ big play is worth appreciating and hopefully the Eagles see value in continuing to use him more as a single-gapping lineman from here on out.
Zech McPhearson: B-
Darius Slay exited the game with injury, forcing Zech McPhearson into duty as an outside cornerback. The fourth round pick responded well. Within the realm of Jonathan Gannon’s conservative play calling, McPhearson still did not give up any big plays and was a reliable tackler. Which is the least you can ask of a fourth round rookie being thrust into starting duty.
Also worth mentioning that McPhearson downed a punt at the Chargers’ one yard line. Hell of a play by a guy who has been crucial on special teams in his young career.
Kenneth Gainwell: B-
Kenneth Gainwell’s usage continues to be a bit… hard to figure out. The Eagles went heavy on the run against Los Angeles, giving their backs 29 carries in total. However, in this 176 yard rushing effort, Kenneth Gainwell got two carries. Both at the goal line.
Now, he did score on one of the carries. Which is great! Though it is just so strange the way he has disappeared from the game plan, especially with Miles Sanders still out of the line up.
Gainwell’s rushing usage is odd enough, but he also has not been used as a pass catcher despite proving his value there early in the season. While it’s a great thing the Eagles are finally running the ball, one wonders when Gainwell finds himself back in good standing with the play callers.
Marlon Tuipulotu: N/A
Despite getting a chunk of snaps late in the game against Detroit, Marlon Tuipulotu didn’t see the field much against Los Angeles. Not surprising.
Patrick Johnson: N/A
Patrick Johnson has disappeared from defensive duties. The Eagles have found a new linebacker combo they like with Davion Taylor, TJ Edwards and Alex Singleton. Though if the inability to rush the passer continues in the coming weeks, maybe Johnson starts biting into Genard Avery and Derek Barnett’s snaps again.
Tarron Jackson: N/A
Like Tuipulotu, Jackson barely saw the field after making some nice plays in Detroit last week. If the Eagles defensive line continues to disappoint against quality offenses, Jackson could have a shot at more opportunities.
Jack Stoll: B
Jack Stoll continues to contribute as a run blocker for this offense. While the number two tight end has yet to factor in as a pass catcher, the Eagles should be happy with the high level of physicality he adds to their ground game.