Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Lions
The Philadelphia Eagles opened the season with a 38-35 win over the Lions in Detroit. It was not a pretty win, but as they say, an ugly win in the NFL is still a win.
At times, the Eagles looked great on both sides of the ball and other times they looked out of sync. The offense struggled at the beginning of the game while the defense started simply trying to protect the lead in the second half and nearly lost it.
This one featured some of the things we have come to expect in season openers namely penalties and missed tackles on defense and missed timing on offense.
The Eagles open the season 1-0 and have an extra day of rest before hosting Minnesota in their home opener next Monday night.
It was a mixed report card to open the 2022 season:
A.J. Brown - It is easy to call Brown's debut with the Eagles a huge success. Brown quickly became a favorite target for Hurts. He caught short passes and tacked on yards after the catch. He also caught a deep pass that nearly went for a touchdown. Brown is a great number one receiver and should be a big factor for this offense each and every week. He caught ten passes for 155 yards and looked unstoppable at times.
Miles Sanders - Sanders did a good job in this game. He averaged more than seven yards per carry. Sanders failed to score a touchdown all last season, but scored in this one. Perhaps his best play was showing patience on a 3rd and 2 on the final possession. Once the hole opened up, he hit hit hard and rushed for 24 yards and a big first down. Sanders carried the ball 13 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for nine yards.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert should have a really good year. As opponents try to start clamping down on AJ Brown, Goedert should find himself more open in the middle of the field. He is also a weapon in the screen game. Goedert caught a screen pass in the fourth quarter and nearly scored on it. He took it 27 yards down to the one yard line. Overall, Goedert caught 3 passes for 60 yards
James Bradberry - Bradberry had a huge play in this game when Kyzir White tipped a pass right into Bradberry's hand. It was amazing that he held onto it. But Bradberry had the awareness to quickly turn it around and streaked down the sideline for a pick six. He finished with that interception, two tackles and one pass successfully defended.
Marcus Epps - Epps was flying around on the field. The play that impressed me the most was in the first half. The Lions tried to run a screen and Epps recognized it developing from about 20 yards away. He went on an all out sprint and blew it up for a loss. That showed me that his recognition and closing speed have a high ceiling. Epps led the team with ten tackles including that one tackle for a loss.
Jalen Hurts - Hurts certainly had his ups and downs in this game. He started off poorly with five incomplete passes. Then he appeared to get more comfortable and delivered strikes frequently to A.J. Brown. Hurts still seemed quick to escape the pocket and run. I get that sometimes that is the best play. However, I really want to see him keep his eyes down the field after breaking the pocket and look to complete passes in those situations. One big key for Hurts, was zero turnovers. He completed 18 of 32 passes for 243 yards. Hurts also carried the ball 17 times for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Darius Slay - Slay did a pretty good job holding down his position. He did get beat for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Other than that, he had some tight coverage on pass attempts that forced Jared Goff to throw passes away. Slay had six tackles in the game.
Jordan Davis - I am excited watching this big fella play. He is a big man that takes up a lot of space. Davis is the kind of player who will be like Fletcher Cox and do things that do not show up in the box score. He will be double and at times triple-teamed which allows other players to make plays. Davis finished with a pair of tackles.
Shane Steichen - Steichen is calling the plays and had a pretty balanced attack in week one. The Eagles ran 32 pass plays compared to 39 run plays. Some of those run plays were designed pass plays that turned into scrambles by Hurts. I liked that once Steichen saw A.J. Brown could not be stopped he simply kept feeding him the ball. I also liked that Steichen let once the Eagles got inside the ten, he let his running backs follow this great offensive line into the end zone. Four different Eagles scored a rushing touchdown in this one.The only thing I did not like was that he failed to get DeVonta Smith in the mix. Smith's targets were really only on passes that Hurts was throwing away. Other than that, I thought he spread the ball around pretty well.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson - Gardner-Johnson's debut with the Eagles was a pretty good one. He looked to be flying around the secondary pretty well. Gardner-Johnson had a nice pass breakup in this game. He also finished tied for fourth on the team with four tackles.
Jonathan Gannon - I expected the defense to dominate this game and to be fair, they did for a while in the middle of it. They got off to a slow start, buckled down and shut the Lions down in the middle of the game before loosening up and allowing the Lions to get close by the end. I saw good things in terms of blitzes, pressure, mixing of personnel and confusing the quarterback with coverages. It just was not consistent. I also thought the defense started to look gassed and out of energy as the third quarter turned into the fourth quarter. I think that largely has to do with limited playing time in the preseason. I am still very high on this defense, but would have preferred it did a better job than allowing the Lions to score 35 points. That coupled with some missed tackles are things that can be fixed going forward.
Nick Sirianni - I thought Sirianni had his team ready to play. He did not panic when the Lions took the early lead. However, there were a couple of game management issues I had within this one. Timeouts are so valuable that I would not have called a timeout on the kickoff in the second half to get a hands team out there. Frankly, against a team like the Lions who are known to try those onside kicks, he should have put them out there initially. That took the Eagles down to just one timeout with more than a quarter remaining. I also thought the team got a little flat as the third quarter turned into the fourth quarter. It appeared to be lack of conditioning. If a team is not ready to play four quarters, that falls on the coach. Yes, the team was healthy going into the opener and that is a big deal. However, they were not conditioned to be at their best especially on defense late in the game. I expect to see penalties in the opener, but ten penalties is entirely too many. Sirianni has to get that under control going into next week's game.