Who Balled and Who Stalled? Grades for Key Eagles from Sunday’s Showdown With Dallas

Another week, another loss for the Philadelphia Eagles as they fall 38-23 to their most hated division rival, the Dallas Cowboys, at home. Each unit was responsible, with the offense allowing two defensive returns for a touchdown by Dallas (1 fumble, 1 INT), the special teams unit allowing a punt return for a TD, and the defense allowing two more touchdowns. On the bright side, fans were able to see rookie QB Nick Foles in action for the first time, and while he wasn’t spectacular, flashes of brilliance suggest he could be the answer in Philadelphia with an improved offensive line. Here key players grades for Week 10:

Baller: Eagles’ WRs

Cooper’s incredible first-quarter grab (via Star-Telegram).

Nick Foles wasn’t bad, but the Eagles’ wide receivers made him and Michael Vick look a lot better than usual on Sunday. In the first quarter, Riley Cooper made an incredible one-handed grab on a fade route in the end zone, and if he hadn’t caught that, the drive would’ve ended in a field goal and Vick’s stats wouldn’t look as good. Foles also got a lot of help from his teammates. specifically DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, both of whom ran extremely good routes yesterday and made a couple of highlight-reel catches.

Coming into today, the Eagles wideouts were hampering their QBs to a degree, but against Dallas both Jackson (5 catches, 62 yards) and Maclin (8 receptions, 93 yards, 1 touchdown) had one of their best games and helped ease their rookie quarterback into NFL game action.

Grade: A

Staller: King Dunlap

Is it possible for a tackle to have a worse game? Not only did he get blown up by Anthony Spencer a couple times and commit four penalties (most of which brought back important first downs), but on the interception return for a touchdown he made a half-hearted effort that resulted in Brandon Carr running right by him for his first TD of the season. “Queen Bumlap”, as he’ll soon be known as, struggled to do much of anything in the pass-blocking game, consistently getting beat off the edge and reverting to illegal contact or holding to keep rushers away from Nick Foles. If he and Demetress Bell continue to struggle, Howie Roseman might just have to put Philadelphia’s $20 million in cap space to use.

Grade: F

Baller: Rest of the O-Line

The offensive line actually played pretty well against Dallas, containing DeMarcus Ware and keeping Nick Foles’ jersey clean, for the most part. They only allowed five quarterback hits, the least of any game this season, and 7 less than they did against New Orleans. Sure, they gave up three sacks, but a couple were in garbage time and the number of hits shows that they can give their quarterback time.

Just look at the 44-yard touchdown pass to Maclin: Foles had all day to throw which is why he was able to roll out, set his feet, and bomb it to a wide-open Maclin.

Grade: B+

Staller: Eagles’ Tackling

The Eagles miss more tackles (via B/R).

The Eagles have been bad at tackling all season, ranked 3rd in the league in missed tackles, and that flaw was on full display once again versus Dallas. Overall, the Eagles had seven, coun it, seven missed tackles. And none were worse than the two game-changing plays, an 11-yard touchdown to Felix Jones and a 25-yard 3rd-down completion to Miles Austin.

On the touchdown, Felix Jones caught a swing pass from Romo but was met by two Eagles defenders, Nnamdi Asomugha and Mychal Kendricks, at the line of scrimmage, but broke both of those tackles and split two other Eagles defenders to get into the end zone. On the Austin completion, three Eagles pass rushers—Fletcher Cox, Jason Babin, and Cullen Jenkins—had clear shots at Tony Romo, but none of them were able to complete the sack. That completion basically ended any chance the Eagles had of winning the game.

And there are two other plays that won’t go down as missed tackles but involve the same lack of effort that is present in what the NFL Stats Commission deems as “missed tackles”. On the punt return for a touchdown and interception return for a touchdown respectively, Mat McBriar and King Dunlap had an opportunity to throw their body into a runner to at least try and knock him down, but neither did so. Those type of plays are what separate the Eagles from, yes, the 6-3 reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

Grade: D+

Baller: Nnamdi Asomugha

Apart from one missed tackle on a Felix Jones touchdown, Nnamdi was a rock. From a really good contain on a Lance Dunbar run in the 2nd quarter to lock down coverage on Miles Austin and Dez Bryant all game long, Asomugha put in his best performance of the season. He was only targeted once by Tony Romo, reminiscent of his days in Oakland when quarterbacks dare threw a pass his way, and that one pass was incomplete. In fact, both of Romo’s big plays were against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who’s started to taper off after a great start to the season.

Grade: A+

Staller: Marty Mornhinweg

They play-calling has been pretty bad all season, but at times Sunday Eagles fans were just left shaking their heads after a run on 3rd and long, a deep bomb on 1st and 10, and just poorly-designed runs plays to the outside. The worst transgression, however, that Mornhinweg and the offensive coaching staff committed was giving the ball to Bryce Brown even when LeSean McCoy was rested and ready to go.

The Eagles’ play-calling needs to improve, whether it is utilizing the bootleg—which worked against Dallas—running screens on 2nd down, or running it between the tackles more, the Eagles need to work with what they have. The guards have done a good job with getting a push and creating holes for McCoy, and with a quick burst of speed he can turn a 2-yard gain into a 25-yard one.

Grade: C-

Baller: Fletcher Cox

Cox was in Romo’s face all day long (via Zimbio).

Apart from that one missed sack, Fletcher Cox by far had his best game of the season. He had 1 tackle, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for a loss along with three hits on the QB. He had as many hits on Romo as the rest of the team combined. He created a constant push throughout the game, and if the statistician didn’t take away a .5 sack on Cullen Jenkins’ hit on Romo along with his missed sack that I mentioned, he would’ve had a monster game.

Cox has already been, unfairly, labeled as somewhat of an underwhelming disappointment by some in the organization and the fan base, but nobody can deny that he’s made vast improvements since the beginning of the season and is starting to look like the future at defensive tackle. With some better coaching and more experience, he’ll become the interior force that Broderick Bunkley never was.

Grade: A-

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Categories: Eagles, Editorial

Author:Manav Khandelwal

I am the founder of Khandyman Sports, and follow all Philadelphia pro sports teams religiously. I also write for the Hoop76, covering the Sixers for ESPN, and am a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News.

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