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Who Balled & Who Stalled: Eagles-Cowboys Week 13 Grades and Analysis

WBWS Week 13

Will it ever stop? The Philadelphia Eagles’ (3-9) losing streak was stretched to eight in a 38-33 loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. With Andy Reid’s seat near boiling temperature, it is inevitable to see a situation where he doesn’t join several of his former assistant coaches—Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn—in the unemployment line.

Before I get into it, here are two Eagles who deserve recognition even though they won’t make the list: Alex Henery continued his impressive play, hitting his 21st straight field goal and setting a franchise record in that regard. The second-year kicker is now 22/23 (95.2 percent) on the season and is a strong candidate for the Pro Bowl.

Damaris Johnson also had one of the game’s highlights, a 98-yard punt return for a touchdown. Not known for Special Teams, the Eagles hadn’t had one returned for a TD since DeSean Jackson in the Miracle at the New Meadowlands. Johnson now owns the longest punt return of the season in the NFL and is now ranked 5th in the NFL in yards per return.

Baller: Offensive Line

People are infatuated with rookie running back Bryce Brown, and for good reason, but many seem to forget that the improvement in the running game has started with the offensive line. Even if it isn’t a group of Pro Bowlers, more than one game together has given this group a chance to gel and improve in all facets of blocking. You have to give a lot of credit to Howard Mudd; Bryce Brown has great vision, but it’s a lot easier to see a hole when it’s more than three inches wide.

Offensive Line’s Overall Grade: A+

Staller: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

DRC gives up a TD to Dez (via Dallas News).

After a torrid start to the season where fans proclaimed him the “secondary’s savior”, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has had a falling out in Philadelphia. He’s become the second-best cornerback on the team and can’t seem to cover anyone. He’s especially prone to pass interference penalties on deep balls, a habit he needs to give up.

Dez Bryant tore DRC apart, catching six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. DRC couldn’t even keep the ball away from Bryant; all six passes thrown his way were caught or resulted in a defensive penalty. DRC needs to stop expecting safety help over the top on every play, or else he will continue to get burned and/or commit useless penalties that put his team in a bad spot.

Rodgers-Comartie’s Overall Grade: D+

Baller: Jason Avant

Jason Avant

Avant had his best game of the season.

In his first game back from an injury, Avant showed just how valuable he is on 3rd down. Even though he’s missed several games, he still leads the team in first-down receptions. He was able to find soft spots in the Cowboys defense several times to help Nick Foles convert key third down passes along with Brent Celek. He is a fantastic safety valve for his rookie QB, and will need to continue working the middle of the field when the Eagles need to pick up yardage.

Avant’s Overall Grade: A

Staller: Jeremy Maclin

Jeremy Maclin

Maclin couldn’t get anything going (via Getty Images).

DeSean Jackson bounced back nicely this year before breaking his ribs. Jason Avant has played well when healthy. Damaris Johnson has been good on Special Teams and occasionally as a WR. Even Riley Cooper has been a key red zone threat for the Eagles since returning from his early-season injury. Jeremy Maclin, on the other hand, has been nothing more than inconsistent.

Apart from a couple catches in the first quarter, Maclin was virtually invisible. That’s how it’s been all year; hit-or-miss. He has a big game one week and then disappears for the next four. He’s been nothing close to what the Eagles expected out of a first-round pick and needs to start running better routes if he wants to find his place in the Nick Foles offense.

Maclin’s Overall Grade: D-

Baller: Brandon Graham

Brandon Graham

Graham brings down Romo (via HDNUX).

The release of Jason Babin was intriguing for one reason, and one reason only: It finally allowed Eagles fans to see former first-round pick Brandon Graham, already labeled a bust, in extended game action. And, boy, did his performance help them forget Babin quite quickly.

Graham recorded six tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss and four hits on the QB. That’s quite an impressive stat line. He used his explosiveness to get upfield and didn’t bother with useless stunts/spins that wasted precious time. He simply took the most direct route to Tony Romo and put him on his back quite a few times. Who knows, maybe the Eagles won’t regret this pick as much as they do now.

Graham’s Overall Grade: A

Staller: Todd Bowles

When the Eagles fired Juan Castillo, they were 3-3 and giving up only 20.8 points per game. Since Bowles took over, they’ve gone 0-6 and given up 32.5 points per game by comparison. The safety play has deteriorated, the corners can’t cover anyone, the linebackers are starting to falter, and the defensive tackles are getting no push up the middle.

Hopefully the wide-nine’s dismissal will improve things, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem at the moment. Bowles’ inability to dial up timely blitzes and call correct coverage packages has left his defensive backs out to dry several times and generated very little consistent pressure. If he had any chance at keeping the job permanently, it’s been lost.

Bowles’ Overall Grade: F

Baller: Bryce Brown

Bryce Brown Touchdown

Brown begins to celebrate a TD (via Getty Images).

For the second straight week, Bryce Brown looked like an All-Pro more than a rookie seventh-round pick. Against Dallas he carried the ball 24, yes 24, times for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He showed great toughness, explosiveness, and vision, taking advantage of good blocking to spring several long runs. His ability to get downhill in a hurry and then make initial cutback moves make him one of the top young backs in the league and give the Eagles one of the best 1-2 RB tandems as well.

For the second straight week, however, Brown also had a costly fumble. That is three fumbles lost in two games. Yes, he’s a good running back with a lot of talent, but so is LeSean McCoy. Fumbling the ball is something that a professional running back cannot do on a regular basis, and it’s something Brown needs to avoid if he wants to continue getting carries when Shady returns.

Brown’s Overall Grade: A-

So thanks for reading, check out our Twitter, @KhandymanSports, and our Facebook page by clicking hereFeel free to comment with your thoughts on the team and be sure to share this post around to fellow Eagles fans!

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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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