November 10, 2016
The Philadelphia Eagles are a halfway through their first season under Doug Pederson, and are off to an up-and-down 4-4 start. Let's grade the Eagles' second-quarter performances individually, starting with the offense. Here's a look at how we graded the Birds' first quarter offense.
Wentz's numbers the first four games of the season were far superior to his next four games:
|Carson Wentz||Comp-Att (Comp %)||Yards (YPA)||TD-INT||Rating|
|Games 1-4||91-135 (67.4%)||1007 (7.46)||7-1||103.5|
|Games 5-8||86-140 (61.4%)||883 (6.31)||2-4||72.4|
Wentz's QB rating dropped 31.1 points from the first quarter to the second quarter. If this trend continues, my projection models say that Wentz's fourth quarter QB rating in 2017 will be -114.2.
But seriously, though, the above numbers require context. Wentz is playing with one hand tied behind his back. To begin, the transition from the first quarter into the second quarter numbers lines up with Lane Johnson's suspension. Over the last four games, the Eagles have had to give their RT a ton of extra help, which limits what they can run offensively. Furthermore, the receivers have just been awful. They don't often get open down the field, and when they do, they have dropped far too many passes. And finally, the run game is averaging 4.0 yards per carry, which is typically going to be in the bottom half of the league.
Wentz has thrown a few ugly interceptions, most notably in the first quarter of the Giants game, which led to an early 14-0 deficit. However, he has been unfazed by those interceptions, continuing to take shots when they're there. For a rookie quarterback to be in every game over the second quarter of the season despite the complete lack of help around him has been impressive, even if the numbers look a little ugly. Still, it certainly would have been preferable if Wentz could have banged out a game-winning drive somewhere along the line.
After an absolutely inexcusable fumble that cost the Eagles a game against the Lions in their fourth game, Mathews did it again against the Vikings. He has since been used sparingly, and deservedly so.
Sproles has become the "lead back," mostly out of necessity. He has played well over the last four games, serving as the Eagles' most reliable skill position player on offense. That's not an ideal role for Sproles, who is better suited to be mixed in on occasion, creating mismatches for the defense, as opposed to being an every down back. Still, where would this offense be without him?
Smallwood's lone snap against the Cowboys was his fumble, leading to three points and eventually a loss. When Smallwood has gotten opportunities to run the ball, he has gained positive yardage. However, those opportunities have been sparse. The thinking here is that the team does not yet trust Smallwood in pass protection.
Barner has produced when he has gotten his chances. However, he has gotten just six carries the last four games.
Drops still persist, and Matthews' yards per catch over his last four games stand at 10.3. Matthews would really benefit from a good receiver on the outside, which the Eagles do not have. As is, Matthews is clearly not ideal as the featured target in the passing game.
Agholor's drop against the Cowboys may have cost the Eagles a touchdown. Otherwise, he's been unproductive, as usual. Is the light ever going to come on?
DGB is 6'5, but plays like he's 5'6.
Huff was leading the NFL is kick return average, and was becoming a bona fide weapon on special teams. And then...
In one game, Treggs was able to do something Eagles fans haven't seen a receiver do in a long time -- get behind the defense.
This about sums up Ertz's game:
Over the last four games, Ertz is averaging 3.5 catches for 38 yards. He still does not have a TD reception this season. Of 300 players with at least one catch this season, Zach Ertz ranks 298th in average yards after the catch, at 1.5 YAC. He's 70th out of 70 tight ends at least one catch in that same metric.
Celek is on pace for the lowest numbers of his career, by far. Through eight games, Celek has five catches for 79 yards. In my view, he should be used more in the passing game.
Whenever the Eagles have given Burton chances to make plays, he has. The Eagles' staff should consider using Burton more than they are, whether that means fewer snaps for Agholor, DGB, or Ertz.
Peters remains a very, very good LT, even if he isn't the elite player he used to be.
After a very strong start to the season, Barbre cooled off some against the Redskins and Vikings, before going down with an injury in the Cowboys game.
It's clear that Kelce really struggles against bigger interior defensive linemen and has been for a while. However, that has been offset in the past by Kelce getting out into space and making impressive blocks on the run. Unfortunately, the latter in no longer happening either.
Brooks has been OK. He's done a nice job in pass protection, but has not gotten push in the run game that you would expect of a man his size.
Johnson's absence has significantly limited what the Eagles can run offensively.
With Johnson currently serving his 10-game suspension, Vaitai has filled in at right tackle. Vaitai's first performance of the season against the Redskins was obviously bad. In his second game against the Vikings, Vaitai's name wasn't called often, which some perceived to be a good sign. After reviewing his game film against the Vikings, while improved, it was once again an unimpressive performance. His performances against the Cowboys and Giants were similar, in that Doug Pederson has given Vaitai a ton of help.
For example, Here's the deep ball Wentz threw to Treggs last week. Look at the absurd amount of extra protection they give to Vaitai's side of the line:
When the Eagles have run plays where they don't give Vaitai help, he gets beaten quite a bit, but it has not resulted in devastating plays. Offensive tackle, in my view, remains the Eagles' biggest need.
Wisniewski is just a guy, and he's unlikely to be back next season.
A blocked field goal aside that had no chance, Sturgis was perfect during the second quarter, hitting 10/10 field goal attempts and 7/7 on PATs. He also hit a huge 55-yard field goal at the end of the first half against the Cowboys and has been good on kickoffs.
The final first quarter report card:
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