PHI-NE Grades: Special teams miscues leave Pats stunned
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Eagles’ 35-28 win over the Patriots.
– A solid, if unspectacular, performance from Sam Bradford (+0.6) in his first game back from injury. Chip Kelly basically took the ball out of his hands once they had a two-score lead in the second half, and they did their best to run the clock out before the Patriots could storm back. Bradford was on target on 16-of-22 targeted passes, and outside of one poor overthrow to Zach Ertz early in the third quarter, he kept the ball out of harms way.
– What a day for Malcolm Jenkins (+3.4). The pick-six will stick in everyone’s mind, but he made play after play against both run and pass on Sunday. There were multiple times where a Patriots’ receiver was asked to block him in the box, and on almost every occasion, he blew up the receiver—and the play. He notched five total stops, and would have had an even better grade, were it not for a missed tackle and a careless pass interference penalty.
– Is Darren Sproles (+1.5) the new feature back in Philadelphia? He took 15 carries, compared to DeMarco Murray’s eight, and was in on 35 snaps, compared to Murray’s 14. It’s hard to argue with the results, though, as he brought some decisiveness and elusiveness that Murray has been missing. Because of his stature, you wouldn’t think of him as a between-the-tackles runner, but Sproles looked comfortable and competent running the Eagles’ staple inside zone run. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his game-breaking punt return up the left sideline early in the third quarter. Sproles is a playmaker on a team hopelessly bereft of them, so the more touches the Eagles can give him, the better.
DE Fletcher Cox (+6.4)
OLB Brandon Graham (+5.7)
RT Lane Johnson (+4.2)
S Malcolm Jenkins (+3.4)
TE Zach Ertz (+2.2)
New England Patriots
– Tom Brady (+5.1) was his usual excellent self on Sunday. His supporting cast…not so much. I couldn’t help but think after seeing the Patriots’ receivers drop eight of their 37 catchable passes on the day that Brady might be currently surrounded by the least-talented offense in the NFL. While Danny Amendola is still a solid option, he dropped two passes himself, including a walk-in touchdown a few plays prior to Brady’s pick six. The big surprise of the day, though, was RB James White (+4.2) who caught all 10 targets and broke three tackles after the catch.
– The Eagles’ offense in the past has been successful at exposing opposing most linebackers with misdirection and a fast-flowing offensive line. Jamie Collins (+5.5) isn’t most linebackers. Collins was rarely out of position, and played downhill from the snap of the ball. He made five stops on the day, with a couple coming after blowing right through Eagles center Jason Kelce (-1.5). Collins also helped make up for Jonathan Freeny’s (-2.7) shortcomings next to him.
– Special teams isn’t usually one-third of the game, but on Sunday, it might have been more than that for New England. They absolutely gave away any chance of winning after an inexcusable miscommunication on the left side of the line led to a blocked punt and a touchdown before the half, and then some poor lane discipline ended up in a Darren Sproles punt return TD right after the half. It’s hard to really fault the offense or defense for the Patriots in this one.
LB Jamie Collins (+5.5)
QB Tom Brady (+5.1)
RB James White (+4.2)
DE Chandler Jones (+3.4)
C Bryan Stork (+2.1)