Earlier this week, we graded the Eagles’ defense, position-by-position, after the first four games of the season.
Now it’s time to check in on the offense. As we explained, these are based in large part on expectations, given the talent on the roster.
The two main concerns with Michael Vick going into the season were turnovers and injuries. His interception rate is down to 1.7 (two picks in 118 attempts), and he’s stayed healthy aside from a couple plays.
Vick was OK in the opener against the Redskins. The numbers were good, but he left plays on the field. He was outstanding vs. the Chargers and terrible against the Chiefs. I thought Vick played well against the Broncos.
There are times when he is late with the ball or misses open receivers. But overall, he’s been solid, especially when you consider how much he struggled in the previous two years (24 interceptions in 23 games). Vick is also getting it done with his legs. He leads all QBs with 228 rushing yards. By my count, 119 of those have come on six read-option runs.
Vick’s completion percentage (55.1) needs to get better, but as we’ve mentioned, the Eagles have 23 pass plays of 20+ yards, tops in the NFL. And Vick’s YPA (9.1) is second to only Peyton Manning.
There’s always room for improvement, and the guess here is still that the Eagles get their QB of the future in the 2014 draft, but Vick has held up well for the most part through four games.
RUNNING BACKS: A
The Eagles’ running game is the best in the NFL. LeSean McCoy has 468 rushing yards and is averaging a ridiculous 6.0 yards per carry. The marriage between McCoy and Chip Kelly’s offense appears to be a perfect one.
Bryce Brown is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, but has been better than those numbers indicate. He still bounces runs outside too much and takes losses that hurt his overall average.
Chris Polk got in the mix for the first time last week and looked good, scoring his first touchdown.
The run game will be the foundation of this offense all season long.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C
This is a tough one to grade because there’s DeSean Jackson and everybody else. Jackson has 393 receiving yards (seventh in the NFL). His numbers could be even better. Jackson and Vick failed to capitalize on several big-play opportunities against the Chargers, and last week, he had a 19-yard catch brought back because of a holding penalty.
There were certainly times when Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Brandon Flowers shut down Jackson with man coverage and no safety help. But throughout the course of a game, he’s going to get open and have his chances for big plays.
The rest of the receiving corps has struggled. But I can’t rip them too much because it’s not a “failing to live up to their potential” issue. It’s a talent issue. Riley Cooper has not proven he’s a starting NFL wide receiver capable of getting open on a consistent basis. And Jason Avant has great hands, but is working with limited athleticism.
Anyone expecting the current Eagles receivers to suddenly start playing better and getting open more will be disappointed.
TIGHT ENDS: C-
I probably could be more harsh here, but this comes down to more of a personnel decision than a lack of production issue as far as I can tell. Because the Eagles have had so much success running out of ’11’ personnel (1-RB, 1-TE, 3-WR), Kelly has decided to not go with multiple TE sets as much as expected.
Brent Celek had the big drop last week, but he’s battled issues with his hands for awhile now. He and Zach Ertz have combined for seven catches of 20+ yards.
In terms of potential, Ertz is the player who can be expected to show improvement as the season goes on and become a bigger part of the passing game.
James Casey is clearly third on the depth chart and figures to see only spot duty unless Celek or Ertz suffers an injury.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
Run grade? A. Pass pro grade? C. That’s how I came to the overall mark with this group.
The run game has been a combined effort: Kelly’s scheme, the read option, Vick’s threat as a runner, McCoy’s elusiveness and a tremendous job by the offensive line. Evan Mathis seems to throw a key block on every big run. Jason Kelce is showing no signs of being slowed by last year’s injury, constantly getting downfield and taking out second- and third-level defenders. And Todd Herremans has been very good in the run game too.
At tackle, Jason Peters is still solid in that aspect, but he hasn’t been the elite run blocker we’ve seen in years past. Lane Johnson is clearly better as a run blocker than in protection.
As a pass-blocking group, this unit has been way too inconsistent. Johnson has struggled to keep pass-rushers away from Vick all season long. Herremans had a nightmarish game against the Chiefs. And even Peters has had some issues in the last two weeks.
It’s important to remember that Peters, Kelce and Herremans are all coming off of injuries. And Johnson is a rookie. If this offense puts it all together in the coming weeks, it will be in large part because the line plays to its potential.