Who Balled & Who Stalled: Grading Eagles’ Week 14 Win Over Tampa

Who Balled & Who Stalled Week 14

Before Sunday, the last time the Philadelphia Eagles had won was September 30th. Between then and this week, someone broke the sound barrier without machine help, Barack Obama was re-elected, and Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast of the country.

Finally, however, after seventy days, the Eagles reign victorious. After blowing a third-quarter lead and allowing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take a 21-10 edge midway through the fourth, Nick Foles led his offense down the field on two straight drives to secure the first win of his career, 23-21. Here are grades for some of the Eagles who played key roles in Sunday’s game:

Baller: Eagles WRs

Maclin catches the game winner.

No DeSean Jackson? No problem for this wide receiver unit. Not only did rookie Marvin McNutt get his first snaps on an NFL field, but the Eagles got big games from Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin along with important catches from Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson. I’d like to focus on the first two, however, because of their resilience this season.

Jason Avant has been a solid option for the Eagles his entire career, but he’s never become the consistent threat he was drafted to be. Now, with Foles under center, he’s starting to emerge as a solid starter. Avant had a couple long catches, one of which was one-handed, that helped him record 133 yards and 7 catches, his best performance of the year. He’s finding seams in the defense where he can make key third-down conversions and has become Foles’ go-to man. Let’s hope he can continue this success and take the next step in becoming the top slot receiver in the NFL.

Jeremy Maclin also had a huge game, rebounding from last week’s poor performance. Maclin’s been nothing more than inconsistent, but his 9 catch, 104 yard-performance was huge for the rookie Foles, not to mention how he was able to find a pocket in the corner of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. There have been rumors about splitting up the talented but disappointing WR duo of DeSean Jackson and Maclin, but Maclin could make a strong case to keep that duo together with a nice finish to the 2012 season.

Wide Receivers’ Overall Grade: A+

Staller: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

DRC whiffed on a tackle that allowed V-Jax to score this TD.

There isn’t really much to say about DRC’s play aside from the fact that No. 23 doesn’t resemble the cornerback who started off the year with 3 interceptions against Cleveland. Not only does he get beat constantly by the league’s top wideouts, but even when he does stay with his man, he either drops an easy interception or commits a costly penalty. He leads the Eagles with five dropped interceptions this season.

After getting burned by Dez Bryant last week, DRC was once again no match for Vincent Jackson, who had 6 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. Jackson accounted for 70% of the Bucs’ passing offense; that’s how badly the Buccaneers wanted to feast on Rodgers-Cromartie all day long.

Rodgers-Comartie’s Overall Grade: D+

Baller: Curtis Marsh

With Nnamdi Asomugha’s injury sidelining him for over a quarter, Curtis Marsh was given an opportunity to step in and show a little something. A second-year player who’s been a project cornerback for the Eagles, Marsh looked great in his first extended action this season on Mike Williams. While he was in, Williams was targeted twice and recorded zero receptions. While Asomugha was in, Williams was targeted five times and had three receptions. I see a future starter, and his name is Curtis Marsh.

Marsh’s Overall Grade: A

Staller: Damaris Johnson

Johnson had a couple of important catches as a wideout, but his muffed punt was disastrous. He basically gift-wrapped Tampa’s first touchdown which helped spark their 21-0 run, a play that would’ve been the game-loser if it hadn’t been for Foles’ heroics. Johnson has been a good punt returner all year, but plays like this won’t earn him anything in the eyes of the coaching staff. Special teams errors have been all too common for a team with such a small margin of error already.

Johnson’s Overall Grade: C+

Baller: Nick Foles

Foles strolls in for his first rushing TD.

After this week, not a single person can say that Nick Foles doesn’t deserve the opportunity to play out the rest of the season as the team’s starting quarterback. Heck, the rookie might have even solidified his starting spot next year with such an impressive performance.

Sure, he continues to make one to two poor throws per game that almost result in an interception, but those will start to go away as he learns to read NFL coverages and break down a defense. That will come with more experience. What excited me the most about his performance on Sunday was his ability to use his legs and his poise late in the game.

The first two are things he’s been improving steadily since he took over four weeks ago. Foles ran the ball 3 times for 27 yards, twice gaining first downs and the third time rushing for his first rushing touchdown of his career. If he can become a little more mobile and extend/make plays with his legs, he will become a much more dangerous quarterback than expected. If he can continue to work on his downfield accuracy—he missed a couple of deep throws badly—he will become an NFL-caliber starter.

Then there were his fourth-quarter heroics in which he led his team down the field on two straight occasions for touchdowns. That type of late-game precision is what separates Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning from the rest of the pack, and will also separate Foles from the likes of Kevin Kolb and other failed draft picks—Donovan McNabb, anyone? Let’s just hope this was not lightning in a bottle and more a sign of things to come.

Foles’ Overall Grade: A-

Staller: Offensive Line

After praising their performance last week, it feels ironic to be giving them such a low grade this time around. Yes, you can’t overreact because they faced one of the top defensive lines in the league, but even then their performance was pitiful. Discounting Foles’ scrambling, their rushing attack gained two yards total on 13 carries (.3 yards per carry). They also allowed six sacks and 13 hits on Foles. Jake Scott especially was lit up by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who had one of his best games this season.

The return of Foles, Herremans, and Kelce next year should improve things, but for now it seems that Foles will have to improve despite his line.

Offensive Line’s Overall Grade: C

Baller: Fletcher Cox

Rookie Fletcher Cox, along with Foles, Bryce Brown and linebacker Mychal Kendricks, continues to make the case that this 2012 draft class is the best of the Andy Reid era. Cox has emerged as the team’s top defensive tackle already, amassing four tackles and a sack against Tampa. He’s already considered on the league’s up-and-coming defensive tackles along with Tampa’s McCoy and Detroit’s Nick Fairley thanks to his explosive first step and solid tackling form.

Cox’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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