Week 17 Eagles grades by position after disastrous loss to Cardinals – NBC Sports Philadelphia


That was a disaster.

No other way to put it. The Eagles had a chance to win their final two games of the season and end up as the No. 2 seed in the NFC at worst. Instead, they lost to one of the worst rosters in the NFL, falling to the Cardinals 35-31 at the Linc on New Year’s Eve.

The grades reflect a disastrous loss:

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts: 18/23, 167 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 8 rushes, 25 yards

Hurts was fine in this game. Could he have made some more plays? Sure. But the defense and the coaching staff deserve way more of the blame for this loss. Hurts actually had a pretty efficient afternoon. He was victimized by a DeVonta Smith drop (on what would have been a tough catch) that gave the Eagles’ a 3-and-out on their first drive of the second half. It wasn’t a perfect pass but Hurts put it where Smith could catch it. He also threw three touchdowns in this game and his only interception came on the final play of the game on a desperation heave into the end zone. The Eagles just had limited possessions because their defense was getting torched all afternoon.

Grade: B

Running back

D’Andre Swift: 13 carries, 61 yards

Swift didn’t put up huge numbers in this game but he came through when the Eagles really needed a big drive. He had 44 rushing yards on their only touchdown in the second half. That score put the Eagles up 28-21 early in the fourth quarter. Swift went over 1,000 yards for the season for the first time in his career. He’s also a much tougher runner than I expected based on seeing him play in Detroit. There’s not as much nonsense dancing as I thought there would be. He generally finds a hole and hits it.

Grade: B

Receiver

A.J. Brown: 4 catches on 5 targets, 53 yards

The Eagles didn’t have one receiver break out on Sunday but the top three put up decent numbers. Brown had 4 for 53, Smith had 3 for 30 and Julio Jones had 2 for 34 and 2 touchdowns. Of course, Smith did drop that ball in the second half to give the Eagles a bad 3-and-out. After the game, Smith was seen with a walking boot on his right foot and on crutches. Not a good sign with the playoffs nearing. And it’s even more infuriating that Smith got hurt blocking on that screen play to Kenny Gainwell on 3rd-and-long in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B-

Tight end

Dallas Goedert: 5 catches on 6 targets, 47 yards, 1 TD

Solid game for Dallas Goedert, who made an impressive catch in the end zone on a late laser beam from Hurts. Goedert was able to keep both feet in bounds and secure the ball. Despite missing time this season, Goedert has put up OK statistics. He has 588 yards in 13 games. That’s an average of around 45.2 yards per game, which is down considerably from his average of 58.5 yards per game in 2022. But he was fine on Sunday.

Grade: B

Offensive line

Again, this game wasn’t really on the offense. The O-line was fine for most of the game but Jordan Mailata did pick up that costly holding penalty on the second-to-last drive that set up the strangest sequence of play calling in the game. That was a killer. But aside from that one miscue, the Eagles’ OL was able to run block and protect Hurts, who was not sacked in this game. Just the second game all season in which Hurts was not sacked (the other was Seattle). Strangely enough, the Eagles are now 0-2 in those games.

Grade: B

Defensive line

Jalen Carter: 1 sack

The Eagles have pumped so much money and draft picks into the defensive line so to see that unit as ineffective as it was on Sunday is just unacceptable. They had just one sack in this game despite opportunities for more. Josh Sweat should have brought down Kyler Murray in the third quarter but instead, Murray escaped and hit James Conner for a touchdown pass. And even the sack the Eagles had came when Carter overran Murray and sort of tripped him up as Murray tried to step up. (Milton Williams had a 10-yard tackle for loss, which was a nice play). 

And then there’s the run defense, which was atrocious. The Cardinals had 221 yards on the ground, led by Conner, who had 128 yards on 26 carries (4.9). Just awful.

Grade: F

Linebacker

Nicholas Morrow: 14 tackles, 1 TFL

The Eagles got Morrow back in this game and it still didn’t matter much. They were without Zach Cunningham, so the Eagles started Morrow and Shaq Leonard, who also suffered an injury in this game and was replaced by rookie Ben VanSumeren. The linebackers didn’t do much against the run either and tight end Trey McBride. Before the injury Leonard had an awful tackle attempt that ended with a touchdown.

Grade: D-

Secondary

Kevin Byard: 11 tackles

Sure, Murray is a fine quarterback. But he was throwing to guys you probably never heard of. Hollywood Brown was out for this game after going on IR so Murray was throwing to Greg Dortch, Rondale and Michael Wilson. Dortch is 175-pound former UDFA who had 184 receiving yards entering Sunday. Against the Eagles, he caught all 7 of his targets for 82 yards. Even if we allow that the DPI call against Kelee Ringo was bad, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles would have gotten a stop anyway on that drive. If anything, it just sped up the inevitable.

Grade: D

Special teams

Braden Mann: 2 punts, 58.5 average, long of 61

Britain Covey probably would have had a nice day returning punts had the Eagles  actually, you know, forced one. Mann was good. He’s been pretty good all season. And Jake Elliott made his field goal attempt and his extra points. Just another solid performance from Michael Clay’s unit but without the opportunity to really make any big plays.

Grade: B

Coaching

Record: 11-5

The only reason the Eagles’ coaching staff got an F is because there’s nothing lower to give them. A side-by-side of the rosters showed how drastically different these two teams are in terms of talent. The Cardinals on paper have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. The mark of good coaching is getting the most out of your talent. Sometimes the mark of bad coaching is not getting enough out of your talent. That’s what has been happening with the Eagles in recent weeks. 

The Eagles have lost four of five games and are in dangerous territory of wasting this season and a lot of that has to fall on Nick Sirianni. The decision to make a defensive coordinator change was desperate and hasn’t worked. And even though the offense doesn’t deserve a lot of blame for this loss, the play-calling sequence in the fourth quarter after getting into 1st-and-20 was horrendous. Sirianni might not be on the hot seat yet but if this thing really collapses, nothing should be off the table.

Grade: F

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