December 05, 2017

Eagles third quarter report cards: Defense edition

Eagles NFL
120517BrandonGraham Michael Perez/AP

Brandon Graham is becoming a legitimate, well-rounded star player.

In the first quarter of the 2017 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles went 3-1, and as you might imagine, they mostly earned good grades. After a perfect 4-0 second quarter of the season, the Eagles remained atop the NFC East at 7-1, with a 3-0 record in the division, and at least a 2.5-game lead on all their division rivals.

After the third quarter of the season in which they went 3-1, the Eagles are one win or one Dallas loss away from winning the NFC East, with their sights set on home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Earlier, we handed out individual grades for the third quarter for the offense. Here we'll cover the defense.

• DE Brandon Graham: Graham has a sack in each of his last three games, and 8.5 overall on the season, which puts him on pace for 11. He also continues to play excellent run defense and remains one of the most underrated players in the NFL.

Grade: A

• DE Vinny Curry: Curry has quietly had a nice season, mostly in the run game, which was once a negative attribute. Curry's transformation into a quality run-stopping early-down defensive end has been one of the more interesting developments of the 2017 season. As a pass rusher though? Eh.

Grade: B

• DT Fletcher Cox: Cox opens up opportunities for the rest of the defensive line because of the attention he garners from opposing offensive line schemes, but more production would be ideal.

Grade: A-

• DT: Timmy Jernigan: Jernigan was rewarded with a nice contract after proving to be a disruptive presence on the Eagles' interior D-line. He is part of a foursome up front most responsible for the Eagles' elite run defense.

Grade: B+

• DE Derek Barnett: In his last four games, Barnett has 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble that led to a defensive touchdown. He is indeed a legitimate pass rushing talent on the pro level.

Grade: B+

• DE Chris Long: Long has just one sack over the last 8 games, and he had a chance to make a play on Russell Wilson at the line of scrimmage before Wilson's infamous illegal forward pass that was missed by the officials and the Eagles. While Long is a great locker room presence, he needs to make the plays that he should make.

Grade: C

• DT Beau Allen: With a healthy Cox and Jernigan, Allen's snaps are down, so we'll just slap him with a neutral B.

Grade: B

• LB Jordan Hicks: Hicks is done for the season with a ruptured Achilles.

Grade: N/A

• LB Nigel Bradham: Bradham had been quiet the last four games, as he has just 17 tackles (none for loss), and no pass breakups. He did have a sack against the Broncos and picked up a gift fumbler return TD against the Cowboys, but the Eagles would probably like to see him more active in swarming to the football like he did against Carolina.

Grade: B-

• LB Mychal Kendricks: Like Bradham, Kendricks has been a little quieter over the last four games than he was in the middle of the season. Still, he and Bradham are tied for the team lead with 63 tackles.

Grade: B

• LB Joe Walker: There's a reason the Eagles signed Dannell Ellerbe. 

Grade: C-

• CB Ronald Darby: Darby returned against the Cowboys and had a great night against Dez Bryant and the Dallas offense, making sound tackles and even picking off Dak Prescott. His transition back into the Eagles' lineup has gone well.

Grade: B+

• CB Jalen Mills: Mills didn't have his best game against the Seahawks, as he missed multiple tackles, but that's been an anomaly. He remains a solid player in the Eagles' D.

Grade: B

• CB Rasul Douglas: Once Darby returned, Douglas' playing time has fallen off sharply.

Grade: Inc.

 CB Patrick Robinson: Robinson is a really solid player who had a big game against Denver, making a nice play on an interception. He has given the Eagles something to think about in terms of whether to try to re-sign him or not.

Grade: A-

• CB Jaylen Watkins: Again, with Darby back and healthy safeties, Watkins has been buried on the depth chart.

Grade: Inc.

• S Malcolm Jenkins: Jenkins got his first two interceptions of the season during the last four games, although he fumbled one of them right back to the offense. Still, it's encouraging to see him making big plays again.

Grade: B+

• S Rodney McLeod: McLeod also has two INTs over the last four games, as he has been in the right spot to capitalize on mistakes.

Grade: B

• S Corey Graham: Solid reserve safety.

Grade: B

 S Chris Maragos: Maragos is done for the season with a knee injury.

Grade: Inc.

Eagles D1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q GPA 
 Brandon GrahamA- A-  3.8 
 Vinny CurryB- B+  3.0 
 Fletcher CoxA- A- A-  3.7 
 Timmy JerniganB+ B+  3.15 
 Derek BarnettC+ B+ B+  3.0 
 Chris LongC+  2.4 
 Beau Allen 3.0 
 Jordan HicksN/A N/A  2.0 
 Nigel BradhamA- B-  2.8 
 Mychal KendricksB+A-  3.3 
 Joe WalkerInc. Inc. C-  1.7 
 Ronald DarbyInc. N/A B+  3.3 
 Jalen MillsC+ A-  3.0 
 Rasul DouglasB- B+ Inc.  3.0 
 Patrick RobinsonB+ A- A-  3.6 
 Jaylen WatkinsN/A Inc.  3.0 
 Malcolm JenkinsB- B+ B+  3.1 
 Rodney McLeod 2.7 
 Corey Graham 2.3 
 Chris MaragosN/A N/A  1.0 



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