Doug Pederson initially had me scratching my head with his play calling in the 1st quarter, but he adjusted and went to shorter passes. Continued with the short passes and ran the ball a lot in the second half, when it was pretty clear that the Vikings offense wasn’t going to be able to make enough plays to win the game. Two questionable decisions: taking the point off the board and going for the two point conversion after a roughing the kicker penalty. Take the point. Also, going for it on 4th and 2 from the Vikings 44. Both plays ended up working out for the Eagles, but I didn’t agree with either decision.
Jim Schwartz, meanwhile, came out with a great game plan to pressure Sam Bradford early and often. Schwartz was trying to get to the quarterback with just a four man rush last week against the Redskins (without ant success), but today he creatively used multiple blitzes to hit Bradford 19 total times and collect 6 sacks. Statement game by the D Coordinator
Not a good day for Carson Wentz. He was protected well by his offensive line, but rushed his throws and missed open receivers, along with 2 bad interceptions. Also seemed to panic a little bit when he did see some pressure, something that we did not see from him in his first 4 starts. Played better in the second half, but a lot of those throws were safe, short throws at the line of scrimmage. Also was erratic with snaps a few times and had a problem on the exchange with the Sproles on the fumble in the 1st quarter.
Running Backs: B-
Ryan Matthews ran the ball decent, but had another inexcusable fumble late in the 4th quarter. Darren Sproles (when their could get the handoff down) was a nice change of pace in the 2nd half. Wendell Smallwood had a few opportunities and didn’t have much success, but he looks quick trying to hit the hole. He should continue to get opportunities as the season goes on. Matthews and Sproles contributed in the passing game with 3 catches and 50 yards.
Offensive Line: A+
Halapoulivaati Vaitai was public enemy number one in Philadelphia this past week after his performance against the Redskins. Today, you wouldn’t have known he was playing, which is always a good thing as an offensive lineman. The rest of the line played well, protecting Carson Wentz all afternoon and not allowing a sack to a Vikings team who had 19 sacks in their first 5 games. Run blocking was good, but any time you protect your quarterback and hold the top defense in the NFL scoreless, you’ve more than done your job.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: C-
Josh Huff was used exactly how he should be used, in motion on bubble screen and short passes and he was able to make a few plays. DGB used his size on the touchdown catch, Jordan Matthews only had 3 catches for 10 yards, and Nelson Agholor looks like Nelson Agholor normally looks. Zach Ertz only had one catch, but was open a few times and Wentz missed on the throw.
Defensive Line: A
Pressured Bradford all game long. Brandon Graham continues to be the best player on defense, contributing a sack and 5 QB hits, Connor Barwin had a strip sack and provided pressure on Bradford all game. Fletcher Cox had two tackles. Vinny Curry lined up at DT in some nickel situations, but wasn’t credited with any stats. In the run game, held the Vikings running backs to 93 yards at 3.4 yards per carry.
Probably the best game of the season for this unit. Helped by Jim Schwartz dialing up the blitz, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham each had a sack and combined for 18 tackles. Hicks was all over the field in both run and pass coverage. Mychal Kendricks had his best day in recent memory, pressuring Bradford on a few blitzes, and back-up Steven Means had a sack as well.
As is usually the case in the NFL, the secondary always plays much better when there is pressure on the quarterback and today was no exception. The safety’s are VERY GOOD, Rodney McLeod had an interception, a sack, forced fumble, and 7 tackles. Malcolm Jenkins was all over the field as usual and the corners played well. The corners might not be the most talented group in the world, but I like the way they compete.
Special Teams: A
Second straight week with a kickoff return for a touchdown. Great blocking left a gaping hole for Josh Huff, who was left one-on-one with kicker Blair Walsh. Advantage Huff. Coverage units did fine. Caleb Sturgis made both field goals and extra point, while Donnie Jones continues to boom the ball, minus his short punt that was fumbled by the Vikings.