The Eagles embarrassed themselves once again, dropping a fourth game in five weeks in a loss to the lowly Cardinals. This loss will have rippling implications across the roster and coaching staff, no doubt, as their 10-1 start to the season has been all but squandered as they head towards a wild card spot in the NFC playoffs.
For the Eagles rookies, they were heavily involved in this game, especially on defense. This level of rookie participation on that side of the ball would have been hard to predict back in the summer, but injuries and poor play has thrust a handful of Eagles first years into meaningful roles with varying success.
Jalen Carter: C+
Despite a sack in this game where Carter tripped Kyler Murray, the rookie defensive tackle was hardly visible for four quarters. The Cardinals ran for over 200 yards against the Eagles defense and Carter was helpless against the downhill attack. Really disappointing end of the season that started with such promise.
Nolan Smith: C
Nolan Smith was fairly involved in the Eagles defensive lineup but failed to make too much of a positive impact. The best thing about Smith right is he plays with a lot of hustle right now, which is more you can say for a lot of the defense right now.
Sydney Brown: B+
Sydney Brown deserves a lot of credit for his electric 99-yard interception return for a touchdown. The interception itself came on a miscommunication by the Cardinals, but Brown’s ability to weave through would-be tacklers for the length of the field was really impressive. A memorable first of many interceptions for the talented safety. Outside of that, Brown continues to play with a lot of energy but finds himself out of position on lots of plays, something that needs to be cleaned up. Also the way he is used puts a lot of pressure on him, given how he plays all over the field. Hopefully a more defined role going forward will help him settle in.
Kelee Ringo: C+
Ringo’s hot streak ended in this game. The Cardinals picked on him a bit more and he gave up a touchdown late in the game that made it 28-28. The play-calling didn’t help; using single high-coverage that deep in the red zone puts a lot of stress on the rookie cornerback ... but anyway. Ringo continues to show up as a tackler, which is a great development for him. The Eagles definitely have something in the talented defensive back, but we saw some more warts in this game which are to be expected.
Eli Ricks: C
Eli Ricks had an up and down game, flashing at moments in coverage. Where he really struggled was as a tackler, failing to make an impact coming up to stop the run. His lowlight was getting juked out of his shoes by Michael Carter for a long gain. Physicality has been a problem for Ricks, who is a bit on the lighter side. This game showed how much that can hurt the defense.
Ben VanSumeren: D
After an alright NFL debut, Ben VanSumeren had a rough go against the Cardinals. Arizona’s offensive game plan really hinged on attacking the Eagles in the middle of the field and taking advantage of their week linebacker group. VanSumeren was late attacking the run more often than not and the tackles he made came down the field or he let himself get pulled along for extra yardage.
- Moro Ojomo got a few snaps at defensive tackle while the Eagles got gashed on the ground. Maybe more reps are needed to keep the group fresher.