Week 17 Eagles grades by position after disastrous loss to Saints

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Week 17 Eagles grades by position after disastrous loss to Saints originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles just needed to beat a 6-9 Saints team at home to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

They couldn’t do it.

Instead, they lost 20-10 and will have to play their starters and try to earn that No. 1 seed next week at home against the Giants.

Quarterback

Gardner Minshew: 18/32, 274 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

The numbers actually ended up looking better than Minshew played. This game was the clearest example yet of how important Jalen Hurts is to the Eagles’ offense. All that talk about him being a system quarterback? Throw it through the shredder and into the garbage can. When Minshew wasn’t indecisive, he was either making the wrong decisions or missing his mark. Sure, he heaved that long touchdown pass to A.J. Brown, but he also threw a gimme pick-6 and was a big reason why the Eagles’ offense looked like it was stuck in the mud on Sunday. Hurts better be back next week.

Grade: F

Running back

Miles Sanders: 12 carries, 61 yards

Not a ton of opportunities for Sanders and the running backs in this game. Kenny Gainwell would have had a huge touchdown but it was called back for a bogus holding call against Landon Dickerson. Sanders averaged 5.1 yards per attempt, playing through a knee injury and ran pretty well. Probably would have been a good idea to lean on him more once the Eagles realized Minshew didn’t have it. Sanders played well aside from one really rough rep in pass protection.

Grade: C+

Receiver

DeVonta Smith: 9 catches on 13 targets, 115 yards

Hard to argue with the production from the receivers in this game. In addition to Smith’s 115 yards, A.J. Brown caught that 78-yard touchdown and finished with 97 yards, although you’d like to see a better effort from him on that pick-6, although that ball shouldn't be thrown there. And give credit to Quez Watkins who turned into a DB on one play after two interceptions when targeted last week.

Grade: B+

Tight end

Dallas Goedert: 3 catches on 6 targets for 45 yards

A relatively quiet day for Goedert against a defense that has been very good against tight ends all season, likely because of their linebacker and safety play. At least Goedert got six targets in this game after just three last week in Dallas.

Grade: C

Offensive line

Minshew was sacked six times but some of that was on his lack of awareness in the pocket. That said, the Eagles clearly missed Lane Johnson in this game and that unit, which is supposed to be the strength of the team, had a forgettable afternoon. On a day when the offense was struggling to get much of anything going, their penalties made things even tougher. Jason Kelce was especially critical of his own play after this game.

Grade: F

Defensive line

Haason Reddick: 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, 2 TFLs

After a horrendous start, the Eagles’ defense actually kept them in the game on Sunday and pitched a second-half shutout. A big reason for that was the D-line, which combined for seven sacks. In addition to Reddick’s 2, Brandon Graham had 2 and Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams each had one. The line stepped up after Josh Sweat left with a neck injury and did its job.

Grade: A

Linebackers

T.J. Edwards: 11 combined tackles, 2 TFLs

Edwards had a few splash plays in this game but the Saints were feasting on the middle of the field. Tight end Juwan Johnson (No. 83) was open for a lot of the afternoon and had 5 catches for 62 yards.

Grade: C

Secondary

Josiah Scott: 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU

It looked like the Eagles played more man coverages in the second half after their zone coverages were absolutely demolished in the first. Andy Dalton at halftime was 13/14 for 164 yards in the first half and his only incompletion was the pick from Scott, which was a nice little gift.

Grade: C-

Special teams

Jake Elliott: 56-yard field goal

Huge kick from Elliott to get the Eagles on the board in the third quarter. But there were some other things that were less than great. Punter Brett Kern averaged 41.8 yards per punt but mixed in a 26-yarder. And Britain Covey had a bad decision to fair catch a punt when he had plenty of space to maneuver. Plus, there was a special teams penalty that gave the Eagles field position at their own 9 on a kickoff.

Grade: C+

Coaching

Record: 13-3

The Eagles didn’t look ready to play this game. Their offensive plan was a mess even with a backup quarterback. And while the defense settled down, they were cut through with a warm knife to start the game. In a lot of ways, the Eagles beat themselves on Sunday and it wasn’t as simple as turnover differential. They were out-classed by a team that had no right to do it. Gotta ding the coaching staff after that performance.

Grade: F

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