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Eagles rookie report card from the Cowboys game

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Eagles got a huge win over the Dallas Cowboys to improve to 8-1 ahead of their bye. Nine weeks into the season, the Eagles are in full control of the NFC. The win was gritty, impressive, and filled with great plays but was not without mistakes. Here are how the Eagles first years played in this divisional showdown.

Jalen Carter: B

Jalen Carter wasn’t a dominant presence for four quarters in this game like we’ve come to expect from him. In the first half, he got little push against the run and wasn’t effective rushing the passer. Carter came up big in a big moment, though, combining with Brandon Graham to sack Dak Prescott late in the fourth quarter. Carter’s play overall was much better in the fourth quarter where he could pin his ears back and rush the passer. He has gotten a lot of production, it seems, late in games this year which is definitely a good thing. One has to wonder if his back injury is lingering and that is why he wasn’t playing at 100% all game. Like so many Eagles, he could probably benefit from the bye week.

Nolan Smith: C-

With Derek Barnett inactive in this game, Nolan Smith got quite a few more opportunities to play on the edge of the defense. He looked out of place, still. His speed is quite evident coming off the line but he still doesn’t know how to deal with more physical pass blockers. This is not surprising, but it’s definitely where you want to see Smith improve in the second half of the season. Notably Smith had a big special teams tackle, which he deserves praise for.

Tyler Steen: B-

Tyler Steen’s first NFL start was quite a rollercoaster. Playing at right guard against the Cowboys’ talented front, Steen had quite a challenge for four quarters. As a run blocker, Steen immediately showed a lot of encouraging signs. On the first drive, Steen helped pave the way for Kenneth Gainwell’s touchdown run. Steen looked comfortable getting downhill all game. As a pass blocker, Steen was far more rocky, especially in the first half. Dallas tried to expose him as a weakness on the line, using stunts and twists to get Micah Parsons matched up with the rookie. It worked a few time to generate pressure. Steen settled down as a pass blocker in the second half. Steen had two successive false start penalties on special teams, forcing Jake Elliott to kick an absurdly long PAT. That was frustrating.

What Steen deserves a lot of credit for was falling on a fumble very late in the game to probably save the win for the Eagles. It was a heads up play by the rookie and god knows he was getting pummeled under that pile. All in all, it was a good game from the Eagles rookie. He was always going to be a project in his first year and showed some bright moments against one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL.

Sydney Brown: C

Sydney Brown was given quite difficult task against the Cowboys. He was one of two rookie defensive backs asked to cover CeeDee Lamb in the slot. He struggled, especially in man coverage (which the Eagles ran a lot against Dallas), but it’s hard to think of a bigger challenge. To have a rookie safety playing slot cornerback against one of the best receivers in the NFL is... a big ask. Brown continued his encouraging trend of playing fast and physical football, continuing to be a plus run defender from the slot too.

Eli Ricks: D-

Like Sydney Brown, Eli Ricks was given a huge challenge covering CeeDee lamb. It went about as poorly as you’d expect. Lamb was successful enough against Ricks that he was signaling to Dak in pre-snap when he was being covered by the rookie. Throw in some bad penalties committed by Ricks late in the game and this was four quarters that the rookie can really learn from. He doesn’t get a failing grade mostly because of the difficulty of the test. He has the talent to step up to the plate in these moments, a big reason why the Eagles had him out there in the first place.

The Rest

  • Kelee Ringo had a special teams tackle to prevent KaVontae Turpin from scoring a kickoff return TD.
  • Moro Ojomo and Tanner McKee were inactive.

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