Our Eagles grades by position through a quarter of 2021 NFL season

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Our Eagles grades by position a quarter through the season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles have had their ups and downs over the first quarter of the season and are sitting with a 1-3 record.

Despite that, these grades aren’t as bad as you’d assume. A big reason for that is likely missed opportunities and stupid mistakes contributing to losses.

The NFL has gone to a 17-game schedule this season which means the year is no longer divisible by four but it would be pretty stupid for me to wait until after the first quarter of the Panthers game to give you the first quarter report card.

All the quarterly grades are averaged from the individual game grades in the first four weeks of the season.

Here’s where the Eagles stand after four games:

Quarterback

Grades by week: A, C-, D, A-

Jalen Hurts has taken every snap at quarterback through the first four weeks of the season and has had his ups and downs. There have been some things to worry about, especially in the loss to the Cowboys. But he had a good performance in the opener and in the loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. That’s probably to be expected, seeing ups and downs from a young quarterback who had just four starts coming into this year.

Through four games, Hurts has completed 66% of his passes for 1,167 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He is on pace for a season with just under 5,000 yards passing with 30 touchdowns in a 17-game season. Still, that doesn’t tell the full story because the most important game on the schedule so far was the one in Dallas and that was his worst of the season.

In addition to his passing numbers, Hurts is also the Eagles’ leading rusher through four games with 226 yards. He’s on pace for 961.

Grade: B-

Running back

Grades by week: A, C-, Incomplete, C+

The Eagles’ best running back day came in Week 1, which is to be expected in a game where they had a big lead. The incomplete game was in Week 3 when Miles Sanders had just two carries. For the purposes of averaging a quarter grade, we counted that as a C.

Miles Sanders has just 37 rushing attempts for 169 yards and doesn’t have a touchdown. Of course, you could argue this is a usage problem. He does have 11 catches for 105 yards. Meanwhile, rookie Kenny Gainwell has 84 yards on the ground and 114 in the passing game. He is coming off his best performance on Sunday. Boston Scott has barely played.

Grade: B-

Tight end

Grades by week: A, D, B-, A

Through four weeks, the Eagles have been in 12 personnel (two tight ends) for 25% of their plays, slightly above the league average of 22%, according to Sharp Football. Both Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz had big performances in a losing effort against the Chiefs.

Goedert has played more snaps than Ertz in all four games this year and has a total lead of 179-145. Goedert and Ertz rank third and fourth on the team in receiving yards. Goedert has 13 for 188 and 2 touchdowns; Ertz has 13 for 153 and 1 touchdown.

Grade: B

Receiver

Grades by week: A, C-, D, B-

DeVonta Smith is the Eagles’ leading receiver after a big game on Sunday. Overall, the rookie has 18 catches on 31 targets for 237 yards and 1 touchdown. Smith is on pace for a 77/1,007/4 season. That would set Eagles rookie records for receptions and yards. So he’s off to a good start.

Quez Watkins has been pretty good too. He has 10 catches for 219 yards, which includes the 91-yarder. But Jalen Reagor has been quieter. He has 14/116/1 after a 1-catch, 9-yard performance in Week 4.

These are three young receivers so this will be a growing process in 2021.

Grade: C+

Offensive line

Grades by week: B, B, D, B+

The Eagles were down to just one original starting offensive lineman (Jason Kelce) on Sunday. A year after they watched their line get decimated, they’re back at it again. Jordan Mailata is dealing with an MCL sprain, Isaac Seumalo is out for the year and Brandon Brooks is on IR with a pec strain.

The fact that the OL has held up at all is a credit to Jeff Stoutland. But this unit just can’t afford to take on more water. They also need Landon Dickerson to really settle into that left guard spot.

Grade: B-

Defensive line

Grades by week: A-, B-, D+, D-

The highest-paid unit on the roster hasn’t played like that every week with exception of Javon Hargrave, who is on his way to an All-Pro season. In the second-year of a three-year, $39 million contract, Hargrave is off to a monster start with 5 sacks, 24 tackles, 6 TFLs and 7 QB hits. Josh Sweat has also had some really good moments getting pressure.

But the Eagles lost Brandon Graham to a torn Achilles and haven’t been getting enough production from Fletcher Cox (5 tackles) or Ryan Kerrigan (statless). They also need Derek Barnett to stop getting penalties.

Grade: C

Linebacker

Grades by week: B, C-, F, F

The Eagles haven’t put a ton of resources into the linebacker position and that’s beginning to show up every week. This unit got off to a decent start in Week 1 because the Eagles got ahead and forced the Falcons to pass. But in the weeks since then, they’ve been getting exposed. Alex Singleton leads the team in tackles with 38, followed by Eric Wilson with 34 but neither of them have a tackle for loss. And the linebackers as a unit have just two.

Singleton and Wilson are the Eagles’ top two linebackers and they have six missed tackles each, according to ProFootballFocus. There are just nine linebackers league-wide with that many missed tackles and the Eagles have two of them.

Grade: D+

Secondary

Grades by week: B+, B-, D-, F

The Eagles’ secondary, even without Rodney McLeod, was holding up early in the season. But in the last two weeks, the Eagles have given up 491 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns.

Darius Slay is still playing at a pretty high level but the secondary hasn’t had any big plays and they have had some chances to take the ball away in the first four games of the season. McLeod returned on Sunday in a limited role, so maybe that will help going forward.

Grade: C-

Special teams

Grades by week: A, D, C, C+

Jake Elliott is 5-for-6 on field goals and 9-of-9 on extra points. Arryn Siposs got the day off from punting on Sunday but has otherwise been good with an average of 46.2 yards per punt with six downed inside the 20.

But the returners haven’t been great. Quez Watkins has been the primary kick returner, averaging 14.8 per return (27th among qualified players). And Jalen Reagor has been the primary punt returner, averaging 3.3 yards per return (23rd among qualified players).

Grade: C+

Coaching

Grades by week: A, D, F, D

The Eagles have a very young and relatively inexperienced coaching staff and that has shown up in the first four games. After what was a pretty flawless opener, there have been some very questionable decisions from Nick Sirianni when it comes to game management and game plan. And defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has struggled to slow down two very potent offenses the last two weeks.

Grade: C-

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