Eagles Wake-Up Call: Midterm Grades (Offense)

desean_400_102713With eight games in the books, here are position-by-position grades for the Eagles’ offense.

Quarterbacks: C

During this exercise, it’s important to remember that we’re handing out grades based on everything we’ve seen in the first half of the season. In other words, what you won’t see here is: The offense has stunk it up the last two weeks. Everybody gets an F!

I would say the Eagles got above average QB play against the Chargers, Giants and Bucs. They were OK against the Redskins and Broncos. And they were flat-out bad against Kansas City, Dallas and the Giants (the second game). The way I see it, that puts them at just about average.

Michael Vick has completed just 54.6 percent of his passes, but averaged 8.6 yards per attempt and was good as a runner before injuring his hamstring. Nick Foles played well in the second half against the Giants and again in Tampa, but delivered a clunker vs. the Cowboys. And Matt Barkley is about what you’d expect.

Running backs: B+

This is one where the first four games were dramatically different than the last four. LeSean McCoy averaged 6.0 YPC in the first four and 3.4 in the last four.

But if we’re talking big picture, we can’t be too harsh here. At the beginning of the season, if I would have told you McCoy would be the NFL’s leading rusher (733 yards) at the halfway point and averaging 4.7 YPC, you would have been thrilled. And that’s where we are right now. The Eagles need to get the ground game back on track, but overall, McCoy has been extremely productive.

Having said that, I could have been a bit tougher with the overall grade since Bryce Brown has been a disappointment. The second-year back has 98 yards total and is averaging 2.6 YPC. That number was 4.9 as a rookie.

Wide receivers: C-

DeSean Jackson is on pace for 90 catches and 1,346 yards. Those numbers would shatter his previous career highs (62 and 1,156). He also has five touchdowns, just one fewer than he totaled in 2010 and 2011 combined.

But this group gets docked for its depth. Riley Cooper and Jason Avant have had trouble beating man coverage, which has made the offense stall at times. Expect opponents to continue to play man coverage until the Eagles prove they can move the ball consistently through the air.

Tight ends: C-

Chip Kelly has said repeatedly that Brent Celek is one of the most underrated guys on offense, and he’s done a good job as a blocker, but has just 14 catches and 214 yards as a receiver.

Zach Ertz is third among rookie tight ends with 201 receiving yards. James Casey has been a non-factor with two grabs for 23 yards.

This Eagles’ offense could really benefit from a productive tight end who can create matchup problems in the passing game. They’ve pegged Ertz to be that guy, but are easing him in slowly because they prefer Celek as a blocker. Overall, this group has been a bit of a disappointment.

Offensive line: B-

This group has been OK. The run blocking was excellent in five games and not so good in three. Protection has been a bit up and down, but I’d say QB play and receivers failing to get open have been more responsible for the issues in the passing game.

Jason Peters has held up well in protection, aside from that Chiefs game. Evan Mathis has been consistent all-around. If Jason Kelce could just avoid playing the Giants, he’d be fine.

The protection problems have come on the right side. Todd Herremans has been good as a run blocker, but way too inconsistent as a pass blocker. Lane Johnson is a work-in-progress, specifically in protection.

The same five linemen have started each of the first eight games.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Zone Read, our day-after feature, contains locker room leftovers, five thoughts on the Eagles and more.

T-Mac checks in on Alex Henery and the Eagles’ kicking game.

Peter King says the Eagles have been the NFL’s biggest disappointment.

Kelly says his offense has not been figured out.

Game review of the Eagles’ offensive problems vs. the Giants.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News provides some next-day thoughts:

The problem is, with Barkley or Nick Foles at quarterback, defenses are completely ignoring the read-option, and bringing the safety down in the box to help deal with McCoy, and occasionally, Brown. If the quarterback wants to run it, hey, more power to him.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com takes a look at the QB situation:

Part of the problem is Kelly. Should he have trusted Vick when he told the coaches he was good to go? Kelly said the doctors told him that was a 10 to 14-day injury and Vick sat for 21 days. Vick is 33 years old. Guys that age heal differently. Kelly needed to listen to Vick, but also trust his own eyes. I find it hard to believe that Vick looked 100 percent during the week.

COMING UP

We’re back down at the NovaCare Complex and will hear from Pat Shurmur, Billy Davis and the players.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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