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October 03, 2017

Eagles report cards through the first quarter of the season: Offense edition

Eagles NFL

The Philadelphia Eagles have made it through the first quarter of the season atop the NFC East at 3-1, with a 2-0 record in the division, and at least a game lead on all their division rivals.

Let's hand out individual grades at the quarter mark:

QB Carson Wentz: In the first couple games, it looked a lot like Wentz was going to have to do it all on his own again, like he did his rookie season, until the rushing attack picked up in Weeks 3 and 4 against the Giants and Chargers. Wentz has done an excellent job protecting the football, as he has thrown just two interceptions on the season. He has also made several plays that other quarterbacks simply cannot make by evading pressure and either finding receivers down the field or scrambling for yardage on the ground. He has also progressed on the mental side of the game, as Doug Pederson has allowed Wentz more freedom to get the Eagles into the right call at the line of scrimmage.

On the downside, Wentz has left a number of potentially big plays on the field, as he has mostly been off target on his deep throws, though his deep ball accuracy improved against the Chargers.

Overall, Wentz has had a solid start to the season, with ample room to be a lot better.

Grade: B

RB LeGarrette Blount: Blount looked like he was very slow to the hole Week 1 against the Redskins, and then he didn't get any carries Week 2 against the Chiefs. I'm not so sure that decision was merely dictated by game circumstances, as Blount and the Eagles said at the time.

However, over the last two weeks, Blount has looked like Christian Okoye in Tecmo Bowl at times, as defenders have bounced off of him while trying to make tackles. Over the last two games, Blount has 28 carries for 203 yards and a touchdown and looks like the player the Eagles hoped they were getting when they signed him to a modest contract late in the offseason.

Grade: B+

RB Wendell Smallwood: Smallwood's stats are pedestrian, as he has 113 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. On the eye test though, he has clearly looked like the Eagles' most explosive runner. More importantly, Smallwood has elevated his level of play as a receiver (7 catches for 54 yards and no drops) and in pass protection, which we showed after the Eagles' win over the Giants Week 2.

Grade: B+

RB Corey Clement: Clement isn't as explosive as Smallwood, and not as difficult to bring down as Blount, but I can understand the Eagles' desire to get him involved early in the season in case they need him down the line. On the season, Clement has 16 carries for 52 yards (3.3 YPC) and 1 TD. He picked up a pair of key first downs against the Chargers last week and had a 15-yard TD run against the Giants, so he has had his moments. Still, Clement has a limited ceiling.

Grade: B-

WR Alshon Jeffery: After four games, Jeffery has 17 catches for 215 yards and 2 TDs. That puts him on pace for 68-860-8, which would be disappointing numbers. In our 10 Eagles predictions heading into the start of the season, I warned that Jeffery might get off to a slow start because his rapport with Wentz was a work in progress.

Jeffery has indeed gotten off to a slow start, but his growing rapport with Wentz can't be fully be blamed for that. Jeffery has had a number of opportunities to win 50-50 balls that he has not been able to come down with so far. Those are simply "go get the ball" plays that have little to do with rapport. The Eagles need Jeffery to make those plays and be the No. 1 type of receiver they thought they were getting when they signed him this offseason. 

While he's far better than anyone the Eagles had on the roster last season, we'll grade Jeffery on a curve here.

Grade: C

WR Torrey Smith: Smith has had some brutal drops that otherwise would have gone for big plays. Smith serves his purpose, in that his speed opens things up underneath for guys like Zach Ertz, but at some point, he is going to have to make the plays he should make. If Smith can't be far better catching the football, the Eagles are going to continue to seek a speed WR to keep opposing defenses honest, and Smith will be one-and-done in Philly.

Grade: D

WR Nelson Agholor: Agholor has 12 catches for 173 yards and 2 TDs, and has made every play you would expect an NFL receiver to make. He has settled in nicely as the team's slot receiver and is finally producing positively in the Eagles' offense.

Grade: B+

TE Zach Ertz: As our Matt Mullin pointed out, Ertz is fifth in the NFL in receiving (first among tight ends), and has improved as a blocker in the run game. 

Grade: A

LT Jason PetersAs we noted in our Eagles dumpster fire piece, Peters is old (he turns 36 in January). You already know that, of course, but you may not realize exactly how old he is for someone playing his position. You have to go all the way back to 2001 to find a player older than Peters who started at least 10 games at left tackle in a season. Therefore, we're in something of uncharted waters in terms of a player at Peters' age continuing to play at a high level, but that is exactly what he has done through four games.

Grade: A-

LG Isaac Seumalo: Obviously, Seumalo's Week 2 game against the Chiefs was brutally bad and got him benched. That doesn't mean he can't become a good player in this league, and it will be interesting to see if he can bounce back, but there's really no other grade to give here.

Grade: F

C Jason Kelce: Kelce still has his elite athleticism, and unlike in previous years, he has not gotten pushed around by bigger interior defensive linemen. Kelce has been outstanding so far this season, particularly as a run blocker.

Grade: A-

RG Brandon Brooks: Brooks has opened up holes in the run game and has been solid in pass protection like he was in his first season in Philly.

Grade: B+

RT Lane Johnson: So far this season, Johnson has had to face Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Joey Bosa, and he has done a great job on all four players. Johnson had a shaky preseason, but he has come to play when it has mattered.

Grade: A

LG Stefen Wisniewski: Wis is clearly the better of the Eagles' current Wisniewski-Warmack "LG by committee" rotation. He should just be starting and playing the entire game at LG.

Grade: B

LG Chance Warmack: Warmack is a decent run blocker, but he has struggled at times in pass protection. I simply don't see the value of getting him on the field when Wisniewski has out-performed him. 

Grade: C-

GPA

Eagles O 1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q GPA 
 Carson Wentz   3.0 
 LeGarrette BlountB+    3.3 
 Wendell SmallwoodB+    3.3 
 Corey ClementB-    2.7 
 Alshon Jeffery   2.0 
 Torrey Smith   1.0 
 Nelson AgholorB+    3.3 
 Zach Ertz   4.0 
 Jason PetersA-    3.7 
 Issac Seumalo   0.0 
 Jason KelceA-    3.7 
 Brandon BrooksB+    3.3 
 Lane Johnson   4.0 
 Stefen Wisniewski   3.0 
 Chance WarmackC-    1.7 

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