Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Cowboys
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles asserted themselves as the team to beat in the NFC East after handling the Cowboys 26-17. They will head into the bye week as the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL.
Once again the Eagles dominated the second quarter, but also allowed the opponent to make it a game again in the second half. It feels like a dangerous way to live, but it continues to work for the Eagles.
The defense forced three big turnovers and also got a fourth down stop to take over possession at the Dallas 35 yard line.
When the Eagles needed another long-sustained fourth quarter drive they got it and this time they capped it off with a touchdown. Leading 20-17, the Eagles engineered a 13 play drive that covered 75 yards and took 7:37 off the clock.
It was a mixed bag in this latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
James Bradberry IV - Bradberry has been a great addition to this team. Opponents seem hesitant to throw to Darius Slay's side of the field and that has worked out well for Bradberry. He was all over the field batting passes down. Bradberry knocked away four passes in this one. He also added three tackles.
Darius Slay - Slay is having a pro bowl type season so far. He is a corner that few quarterbacks want to throw towards. He picked off another pass in this game. Slay added a pair of passes defended and two tackles. Big Play Slay is definitely living up to his nickname through six games.
CJ Gardner-Johnson - What a game by Gardiner-Johnson. He seemed to be everywhere the ball was. Gardiner-Johnson had his first career two interception game and he now has three interceptions in his last two games. He said afterwards he is getting more comfortable in this defense. He has been a key addition to this team. Gardiner-Johnson added four tackles.
TJ Edwards - These linebackers continue to play well and had a significant role in stopping the run in this game. Edwards continues to fill gaps and make tackles. There were a few by the team in this game that went down as missed tackles. Edwards led the team with 14 tackles in this one. He also added a pass successfully defended.
Kyzir White - White looks to be meshing well with TJ Edwards. He also helps to fill in the gaps in the run defense and was playing a key role in stopping the run in the first half of this one. He also does a good job of getting his hands up trying to deflect passes and did that once in this game. White finished second on the team with eight tackles.
Miles Sanders - Sanders continues to run hard and is doing a good job of keeping his legs moving through contact to add yardage to his carries. He is also showing patience when needed to give a hole a split-second longer to open. Sanders was a workhorse in this one. He carried the ball 18 times for 71 yards and a touchdown.
AJ Brown - Brown has been a great addition to this receiving corp. The Eagles only completed 15 passes in this one. Brown caught five of those passes including a touchdown. He does a great job of adding yards after the catch. Brown hauled in five passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.
DeVonta Smith - Smith and Brown are a great pair of receivers that stress out a defense. Brown caught a big touchdown that capped off a crucial fourth-quarter drive that helped put the game away. He caught five passes for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Brandon Graham - Graham made a huge play at a critical time of the game that does not show up in the box score. He got pressure and hit Cooper Rush as he was throwing that caused his pass to hang in the air long enough for CJ Gardiner-Johnson to pick it off. That sealed the victory. Graham was helping to shrink the pocket throughout the game but could not really break through for any sacks. He got there at the right time to force a huge turnover. Graham finished with one tackle and one very big quarterback hit.
Haason Reddick - Reddick was also unable to get home for any sacks. He was getting pressure on Cooper Rush and even registered a pair of quarterback hits. Reddick showed an ability to help shrink the pocket in this one but unlike previous games just could not get that big sack. It is fun watching him rush the quarterback. He has a great first step and speed to help turn a corner. Reddick tallied one tackle and a pair of quarterback hits.
Jordan Davis - Davis is clearly having a big positive impact on this defensive line. The problem is that he is not able to stay on the field for too many plays in a row. When he is in there, he takes up multiple defenders and that allows Eagles linebackers to fill gaps and make plays. He is slowly getting more playing time, but he needs to get himself into NFL game shape which would keep him on the field longer. Davis will likely not contribute much to the box score kind of like Fletcher Cox, but he did finish with one tackle in this game.
Offensive Line - The offensive line was winning the battle throughout the first half. Lane Johnson left the game in the concussion protocol and from that moment the Eagles offense started to struggle. They had trouble moving the ball in the third quarter and finally started to figure it out better in the fourth quarter. Johnson's absence affected the team because Micah Parsons took advantage of Jack Driscoll. Other than that, this offensive line played very well and dominated the line of scrimmage when they needed it most. They led the way on a 13 play 75 yard drive that took 7:37 off the clock.
Jalen Hurts - Hurts was not as smooth as he has been. But he was big in moments when this team needed it most. He engineered a 13 play 75 yard drive that milked 7:37 off the clock. That drive ended with Hurts finding a wide-open DeVonta Smith in the endzone for a touchdown. The best thing he did in this game was took care of the ball. Once again the Eagles did not turn it over. Hurts completed 15 of 25 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He also added nine carries for 27 yards.
Shane Steichen - Steichen finally got there, but he struggled throughout the third quarter before finally finding a way to survive the injury to Lane Johnson. Micah Parsons was feasting on Jack Driscoll and it was really making it difficult for the Eagles to move the ball. They also did not run play-action or RPO pass plays as much as I expected. One other play that always seems to go well is a Dallas Goedert screen pass. But that was never run in this game. Steichen did a great job designing the rushing attack against a good Cowboys front. He also had a good game plan for avoiding Micah Parsons in the first half. Steichen does deserve credit for calling a drive that took 7:37 off the clock and ended with a touchdown to help essentially put the game away.
Jonathan Gannon - You can't argue with results and this undefeated team certainly deserves its credit. However, I cannot stand how an aggressive game plan that is forcing turnovers and stopping the opponents morphs into a more conservative game plan once the lead reaches three possessions. It seems to always allow the opponent to make what was a decided score into more of a game. I would like to see the Eagles maintain aggression and pressure because it was forcing Cooper Rush to make mistakes. Once that was taken away, the Cowboys moved the ball and scored a couple of touchdowns. That being said, his defense did force three huge turnovers and come up with a big fourth down stop forcing a turnover on downs.
Jack Driscoll - Driscoll played the entire second half and was abused by Micah Parsons. In his defense, trying to block Parsons is not easy. He also did not get any help with that task until the fourth quarter. Driscoll was slow off the line allowing Parsons to get leverage against him and that forced all kinds of chaos as the pocket was getting blown up. Driscoll has been a good depth piece on this offensive line and he likely will continue to be just that. This was a case of a good player in Driscoll getting matched up with an elite player in Parsons.