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November 10, 2016

Eagles report cards after first half of season: Offense edition

111016DarrenSproles Frank Franklin II/AP

Darren Sproles has been the Eagles' most consistent weapon on offense.

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.

QB Carson Wentz: B-

Wentz's numbers the first four games of the season were far superior to his next four games:

 Carson WentzComp-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.

RB Ryan Mathews: D

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.

RB Darren Sproles: A-

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?

RB Wendell Smallwood: C-

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.

RB Kenjon Barner: B

Barner has produced when he has gotten his chances. However, he has gotten just six carries the last four games.

WR Jordan Matthews: C+

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.

WR Nelson Agholor: D

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?

WR Dorial Green-Beckham: D

DGB is 6'5, but plays like he's 5'6.

WR Josh Huff: B

Huff was leading the NFL is kick return average, and was becoming a bona fide weapon on special teams. And then...

WR Bryce Treggs: B+

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. 

TE Zach Ertz: C-

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.

TE Brent Celek: B-

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.

TE Trey Burton: B

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. 

LT Jason Peters: B+

Peters remains a very, very good LT, even if he isn't the elite player he used to be.

LG Allen Barbre: B-

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. 

C Jason Kelce: D

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. 

RG Brandon Brooks: B-

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.

RT Lane Johnson: F

Johnson's absence has significantly limited what the Eagles can run offensively.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai: D

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.

LG Stefen Wisniewski: C

Wisniewski is just a guy, and he's unlikely to be back next season.

K Caleb Sturgis: A

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:

Player 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q GPA 
 Carson WentzA+ B-   3.35 
 Ryan Mathews  1.0 
 Darren SprolesA-   3.35 
 Wendell SmallwoodB+ C-   2.5 
 Kenjon BarnerB  3.0 
 Jordan MatthewsB-   2.35 
 Nelson AgholorC-   1.35 
 Dorial Green-Beckham  1.5 
 Josh Huff1.0 
 Bryce TreggsB+   3.3 
 Zach ErtzC+ C-   2.0 
 Brent CelekB- B-   2.7 
 Trey BurtonB+   3.15 
 Jason PetersB+ B+   3.3 
 Allen BarbreB-   3.35 
 Jason KelceC+   1.65 
 Brandon BrooksB- B-   2.7 
 Lane JohnsonA-  1.85 
 Halapoulivaati Vaitai  1.0 
Stefen Wisniewski   2.0 
 Caleb Sturgis  3.5 

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