Assigning Midseason Grades for Each Member of Philadelphia Eagles
With the Philadelphia Eagles officially halfway through their 2012 season, it’s as good a time as ever to review each player’s performance.
It’s safe to say the season hasn’t gone as fans or the team expected. After an underwhelming 8-8 season mired by preseason expectations and fourth quarter collapses in 2011, the Eagles were expected to be significantly better in 2012.
Andy Reid added a slew of talented players in the draft, signed several quality free agents and traded for a Pro Bowl linebacker in DeMeco Ryans. All that was expected to get the Eagles right back into the hunt in the NFC, but new problems have arisen.
The Eagles are currently 3-5 after four straight losses, and it seems fair to assess every member of the Eagles to see which players are contributing as they should and which are not.
Michael Vick: C-
Whenever a player is one of the highest-paid at his position in the league, it comes with enormous expectations.
Michael Vick’s 2011 season was a disaster in all sorts, but the Philadelphia Eagles’ $100 million quarterback seemed determined to do better in 2012. He even went as far as to call the team a potential dynasty in the offseason.
Vick stumbled through the first two weeks of the season, throwing six interceptions and losing a fumble. He managed to lead spectacular fourth-quarter drives in each game to give the Eagles narrow one-point wins, but the turnovers didn’t stop.
Vick’s 14 turnovers through eight weeks are by far the highest rate he’s ever had in his career, and he’s had his share of costly interceptions near the goal line. All of that led his NFL peers to call Vick the most disappointing player in the league in 2012.
Vick does get a pass because of the ineptitude of his offensive line; he is protected by a group now down four starters, following the brutal injury to right tackle Todd Herremans. Vick is getting sacked at a higher rate than ever, and his lack of protection leads to a high percentage of checkdowns and scrambles.
Vick does deserve a high amount of credit for his remarkable ability to make plays with his legs. He’s running about as well as he did in 2005 when he was a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. And there’s no telling how many times he would have been sacked if he didn’t possess an uncanny ability to escape sacks and extend plays with his athleticism.
All things considered, Vick’s performance is far less than the Eagles hoped for from their franchise quarterback. If the offensive line was at least an adequate unit, Vick would probably have been replaced with Nick Foles by now.
LeSean McCoy: A-
LeSean McCoy’s numbers are significantly down from 2011 but that’s more the fault of his offensive line than a drop-off from McCoy.
McCoy is on pace for 1,246 rushing yards this year after putting up 1,309 last year. That’s not much of a decline. He did rush for 20 touchdowns in 2011 and he’s at just two so far in 2012—although McCoy has already matched last year’s total for receiving scores (3).
No running back in the league has been hit behind the line of scrimmage more times than McCoy. McCoy has everything a coach could want in a running back, as he’s strong, fast, amazingly quick and capable of handling a full workload. It’s not his fault his coach doesn’t give him the ball enough.
The only thing keeping McCoy from getting a higher grade is the fact that he’s already fumbled three times after just one last year.
Bryce Brown: C+
Bryce Brown gets credit for beating out both Dion Lewis and Chris Polk for the spot as the lead backup behind McCoy.
Brown provided little to no change of pace for the first seven games, but he broke out against New Orleans in Week 8. He rushed for 49 yards on four carries, including a 40-yard run. His season totals are now 105 rushing yards at 4.4 yards per carry, which is a solid enough total.
Chris Polk: C-
Chris Polk hasn’t played an offensive snap yet this season but the reason he gets a grade is because many Eagles' fans expected more of an impact from Polk. His draft stock plummeted to the point that he went undrafted and now he still can’t get on the field.
Dion Lewis: F
After a solid enough rookie campaign, Dion Lewis has been inactive for most of the 2012 season. To be honest, there’s no reason to keep him on the 53-man roster.
Stanley Havili: B+
Fullback is a dying position in the National Football League, but Stanley Havili is one of the better ones. No Andy Reid fullback other than Leonard Weaver has ever run the ball a lot. What Havili does provide, though, is excellent run blocking for McCoy.
DeSean Jackson: B+
For the first time ever, DeSean Jackson has been providing consistent production from the wide receiver position on plays other than the deep ball.
In 2009 and 2010, Jackson was a force to be reckoned with, making consecutive Pro Bowls. However, when he wasn’t running the deep pattern, he wasn’t doing much.
In 2012, Jackson has just one play for greater than 40 yards. But he is on pace for a career-best 1,248 receiving yards, and he’s doing so on an impressive 16.9 yards per catch.
Jeremy Maclin: D+
Not enough people have gotten on Jeremy Maclin for the lackluster season he’s been having. Maclin seems to completely disappear from full games, and his midseason numbers project to just 56 receptions, 712 yards, and six touchdowns.
That would be the lowest receiving total of Maclin’s four-year career, and with the Philadelphia Eagles’ former first-round pick in line for a new contract after 2013, he needs to be playing better.
Jason Avant: B-
Jason Avant has long been one of the game’s better slot receivers, as he offers fairly consistent production.
Avant has increased his reception and yardage total each year of his career, although he’s not on pace to keep that up in 2012. Avant has been a bigger part of the Eagles’ offense recently with the struggles on the offensive line.
Riley Cooper: F
Riley Cooper broke his collarbone in training camp and has provided just two catches since. He nearly pulled off the special teams play of the year but that backfired when Brandon Boykin threw the ball forward.
Damaris Johnson: B+
For an undrafted free agent that was buried on the depth chart in preseason, Damaris Johnson has done well. He performed admirably enough to make the 53-man roster and worked his way up to the fourth receiver spot when Cooper got hurt.
Johnson has eight catches for 124 yards at midseason. That’s not bad at all.
Mardy Gilyard: C
It’s tough to grade Mardy Gilyard. He has no catches and probably won’t end up with any all season but he does get credit for sticking with the 53-man roster.
Brent Celek: B
Brent Celek is on pace to post pretty good numbers this season—66 receptions for 872 yards. His touchdown total is down to just one, and he’s come up with some pretty disappointing plays in 2012. There was the dropped pass in the end zone against the Detroit Lions and the costly lost fumble in the red zone against the New Orleans Saints.
That shouldn’t negate the fact that Celek is a borderline top-eight tight end in the National Football League. In on an offense that didn’t force Celek to stay in and block so much, he could easily approach 1,000 or more receiving yards.
Clay Harbor: B-
The fact that Clay Harbor has just 79 receiving yards through eight games is incredibly disappointing. But it’s really tough to blame Harbor for this, as he’s been forced to stay in and block nearly every play he’s been in.
Harbor has officially been asked to contribute as a blocker on 60.5 percent of plays in which he’s been in the game. Pro Football Focus rates him very well though as a run blocker, although just subpar in pass protection.
Demetress Bell: F
It’s not unfair to label Demetress Bell the single most disappointing non-QB on the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles knew their left tackle position would take a serious hit when All-Pro player Jason Peters tore his Achilles tendon in the offseason. Peters is too talented to just be replaced, but the Eagles thought they had themselves a solid backup in Bell.
Bell was a three-year starter in Buffalo, and while he suffered his fair share of injuries, he performed well as both a pass blocker and a run blocker. In Philly though, he’s been a colossal bust. He may very well go down as the single worst signing of the Andy Reid era.
Bell is a turnstile at left or right tackle. He’s (somehow) been charged with just one sack allowed this season but his 10 penalties, eight quarterback hits allowed and 19 hurries make him one of the most inept offensive tackles in the NFL.
Evan Mathis: A-
Evan Mathis has held his own for most of the season. He’s living up to the five-year deal he signed in the offseason, and that’s a good thing because no one else on the line has played to his worth.
Mathis is the lone starter remaining on the Eagles heading into Week 9. He hasn’t allowed a single sack yet in 2012 (or in 2011), and other than the consecutive two-penalty games to start the campaign, Mathis has been penalty-free. He’s a fine run blocker and he actually rates as the best overall lineman in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Jason Kelce: A-
Kelce was well on his way to being a Pro Bowl player for the Eagles. He showed enormous strides after his shaky rookie campaign in 2011, and he was the leader and signal-caller for the offensive line. The Eagles could really use his services now.
Danny Watkins: F
It’s been just a year and a half, but it’s not too early to label the selection of Danny Watkins a colossal bust.
In 2011, Watkins showed the growing pains to be expected for a rookie. In 2012, Watkins’s slide into a level below that of even mediocrity, has been extremely disappointing for Eagles fans.
Watkins is currently sidelined with a chronic ankle injury, although Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer challenges the validity of the so-called injury.
Todd Herremans: D-
To make things clear, Todd Herremans’s play this season has not been that of a D-minus. But when coupled with the very high expectations the team had for him, he gets that grade.
Herremans played at a Pro Bowl level for most of 2011 and was rewarded with a three-year contract extension in the offseason.
That’s looking like a mistake now. Herremans was beat badly on numerous occasions during the season. He allowed four sacks and 11 quarterback pressures in just seven full games, before sustaining an awful injury that will keep him out for the rest of 2012.
King Dunlap: C
King Dunlap is a career backup, and that’s the level at which he’s been playing in 2012. He’s certainly an upgrade over Bell, and Dunlap temporarily won the starting left tackle job before getting hurt.
Dennis Kelly: C
Dennis Kelly spent the first six games of the season on the bench before the Eagles needed him to fill in at right guard. There aren’t many 6-foot-8 men playing guard in this league (especially with a quarterback measured at six feet flat), but that’s been the story of the 2012 Eagles. And no, Kelly has not played well. But what would you expect?
Dallas Reynolds: D
Dallas Reynolds’s play has been horrendous this season but he doesn’t get an F simply because he’s being forced into a situation that’s over his head. Reynolds has never made an NFL roster before 2012 so it would be ridiculous to expect him to play well. Still though, he’s been worse than that of most backups.
Trent Cole: D
For the first several games of the season, Trent Cole wasn’t getting his usual sacks. But he was still getting constant pressure on the quarterback and he was providing stellar run defense.
As of late, though, Cole hasn’t been the same player. He’s currently mired in a five-game sackless skid. The Philadelphia Eagles need more than 1.5 sacks at midseason from their best defensive player.
Cullen Jenkins: B
Cullen Jenkins was a borderline Pro Bowl player in 2011, and he’s been quietly consistent again in 2012. Jenkins is one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the National Football League.
Just seven interior defensive linemen in the NFL have more quarterback hurries (10) than Jenkins, although it’s time Jenkins breaks through and gets a sack.
Fletcher Cox: A-
For a rookie, Fletcher Cox has been simply magnificent. The stats may not show it but Cox is a force to be reckoned with and he’s going to be trouble for opposing NFC East quarterbacks for years to come.
Cox has officially taken Derek Landri’s starting spot from him, and he’s been a heavy part of the rotation from day one.
Jason Babin: F
For the first three weeks, Jason Babin was well on track to being the same defensive end he was in 2011.
But since the New York Giants game, Babin hasn’t been the same player. He’s always gotten beat by the run and he’s always committed a slew of penalties, but now he’s not even providing pressure on the opposing quarterback.
What makes matters worse is the caliber of the opposition Babin has faced this year. He’s been up against right tackles like the Arizona Cardinals’ Bobby Massie, the Giants’ Sean Locklear, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Marcus Gilbert, and the Detroit Lions’ Gosder Cherilus. Babin should have a slew of sacks against those players, and he’s now splitting reps with Brandon Graham at the left defensive end position.
Brandon Graham: A-
Brandon Graham was well on his way to being a bust after his first two NFL seasons, and it was high time for Graham to start making plays.
He took advantage of his limited snaps early on, then split reps with Babin against the Atlanta Falcons.
In the Monday Night Football contest against the New Orleans Saints, Graham made the defensive play of the game. He sacked Drew Brees when Brees and the Saints were about to score, forcing and recovering a fumble.
Mike Patterson: A
The fact that Mike Patterson has managed to step onto the football field this season is sensational. He survived brain surgery during the offseason and he’s worked his way back into NFL shape. All the credit in the world should go to Patterson for that impressive achievement.
Derek Landri: D
The Philadelphia Eagles had themselves a steal last year in Derek Landri, who made plays against both the pass and the run. He managed to rate fourth-best in the league among interior defensive linemen, per Pro Football Focus.
Landri signed a one-year deal to return to the Eagles, and he’s flat out stopped making plays. Landri has no sacks and just five quarterback hurries, and he’s made minimal effort against the run.
Phillip Hunt: F
Before the season, many expected Phillip Hunt to be one of the sleeper contributors on the Eagles. Hunt is a former CFL star who showed extensive promise in 2011.
Hunt saw his snap count reduce from 15 against both the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens to just one against the Detroit Lions. He has no sacks and just two hurries on the season. That’s awful, even for a backup.
Cedric Thornton: B-
Cedric Thornton has begun to work his way into the steady rotation on the Eagles’ defensive line. Thornton isn’t making plays regardless of the high number of snaps he’s been taking, but he’s an average backup defensive tackle.
Darryl Tapp: C-
Darryl Tapp was buried on the depth chart before the season, and he’s been buried for most of 2012 as well. Why he’s taking snaps from Vinny Curry though is confusing because Tapp hasn’t made any notable plays.
DeMeco Ryans: A
The Philadelphia Eagles pulled off one of the biggest NFL steals of the offseason when they traded a fourth-rounder for a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker. The team immediately inserted DeMeco Ryans into the middle of their defense, and he’s been a godsend.
Ryans has played at a high level all season, and he leads the team with 62 tackles. Ryans has a sack and an interception to his credit, and he’s also been the emotional leader of a defense that hasn’t had a vocal leader since Brian Dawkins left.
Mychal Kendricks: C+
For the first several weeks of the 2012 season, Mychal Kendricks was playing at a Pro Bowl level. Since then, he’s really struggled, and he leads all 4-3 outside linebackers in missed tackles (10).
Kendricks is still just a rookie and he’s substantially better than any of the linebackers the Eagles had in 2011. He’s got sideline-to-sideline speed and he can run with every tight end in the league. The Eagles will need a better performance from him in the second half though.
Akeem Jordan: C
Akeem Jordan is the Eagles’ version of Kyle Kendrick—he’s always there, he never really produces, and he’s used as either a starter or a backup (reliever in Kendrick’s case).
Jordan has played at about the same level in 2012 as he always has, and that’s of a fringe starter.
Jamar Chaney: D
After 2012, it’s probably time for the Eagles to cut ties with Jamar Chaney. The playmaking ability he seemed to possess back in his rookie campaign of 2010 is gone. Chaney has started at times this season and yet he’s also been inactive for other games.
Casey Matthews: C
Casey Matthews is probably playing this year for his future in Philly. He’s really not providing much of an impact so it would take an injury to give him a chance to show what he can do.
Brian Rolle: F
Remember when Brian Rolle had a promising rookie season at weakside linebacker? No one would have expected he would be gone by Week 3 of 2012, but he was underwhelming in training camp and the first three weeks.
Nnamdi Asomugha: F
Nnamdi Asomugha is an intriguing case. He thrived in Oakland because opposing quarterbacks literally didn’t throw to his side of the field. Asomugha played man-to-man as well as anyone in the game, including Darrelle Revis, and he allowed just one touchdown pass from 2008 to 2010.
In Philadelphia, opposing quarterbacks haven’t hesitated to throw Asomugha’s way, and he’s gotten burned regularly. He has given up 22 receptions for 400 yards and three touchdowns. He’s made just one interception, and that total comes out to a 112.4 passer rating.
This is for a corner that is being paid $60 million over five years, the largest contract in NFL history for a defensive back. He is an atrocious tackler and he’s already committed five penalties this season.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: B+
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is playing for a new contract in 2012, and he’s really playing like he wants it.
Opposing quarterbacks throwing DRC’s way have completed just 47.5 percent of their passes for 6.85 yards per attempt. He’s allowed only one touchdown and recorded three interceptions, while knocking down six passes. That’s a pretty nifty 46.3 passer rating.
Against Cleveland in week one, DRC was ridiculously successful, picking off two passes and allowing just one completion on seven attempts. He hasn’t given up more than 77 yards in any game, and that was against the New York Giants’ fearsome combination of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.
Brandon Boykin: C
The Eagles look like they made a pretty good selection with Brandon Boykin, an undersized corner that should excel in the slot.
Boykin has had his growing pains this year—he was beat pretty badly against the New York Giants. He’s also had some stellar moments, like the ridiculous knockdown against the Baltimore Ravens when he leapt about four feet in the air.
Brandon Hughes: F
Passing numbers against Brandon Hughes this year: quarterbacks are 7 of 9 for 115 yards and a touchdown. That’s a near-perfect 155.8 rating. Hughes had a huge part in the Eagles blowing the lead to Detroit in Week 6.
Curtis Marsh: D
It’s pretty apparent the Eagles screwed up by spending a third-round selection on Curtis Marsh. He hasn’t seen the field yet, although to be fair, it is still just year two for Marsh.
Nate Allen: B-
Against the Lions, the Eagles completely fell apart when Nate Allen got injured. That’s more of an indicator that the defense has little depth than Allen being a star.
Allen always makes a lot of tackles (third on the team), but he misses his share of tackles too. What will keep Allen on the team for several years is that he’s a fine contributor in the passing game—Allen has held opposing quarterbacks to a 45.5 completion percentage and a 56.1 passer rating.
Kurt Coleman: D
Kurt Coleman is overmatched as a starting strong safety in the NFL, and the Eagles were foolish to think they would be competitive with Allen and Coleman.
Coleman has never met a play-action fake he won’t bite on and he misses more tackles than Allen. As a third or fourth safety, Coleman would be fine, but not as a starter.
Jaiquawn Jarrett: F
Jaiquawn Jarrett had no business ever having been a second-round pick. He was released by the Eagles early in his second season and hasn’t signed with any team yet. Given the way he tackled, he won’t be getting any calls soon.
Colt Anderson: D-
As a special teams player, Colt Anderson is fantastic. As a safety though—which is how he’s being rated—he’s subpar. In fact, Anderson isn’t really even good enough to play safety at the NFL level.
He had to come in against the Lions when Allen got hurt, and the defense really took a hit.
David Sims: C
David Sims was thrust into action last week against the New Orleans Saints when Allen couldn’t play, and he held his own. Sims was tasked with covering Jimmy Graham—and that would give Brian Dawkins in his prime some trouble.
Alex Henery: A
Other than a 45-yard field goal against the Cleveland Browns in week one, Alex Henery has been spot on. He’s kicking at a 93.3 percent clip this season and—believe it or not—he holds the highest career field goal percentage (90.5) in NFL history.
Henery has made four of five field goals this season at more than 40 yards, and he’s made every extra point. Henery has also been averaging 68.3 yards per kickoff, which puts him in the upper half of all kickers. It’s time Philly fans give the man some credit.
Mat McBriar: A-
Mat McBriar can really boom the football, and he’s been averaging 48.2 yards per punt in 2012. That’s very good production for a guy that was unemployed when the Philadelphia Eagles signed him.
Chas Henry: C
Chas Henry ranks near the top of all punters in average yards per punt (48.5), but several factors hurt his grade here—he has an average hang time of just 4.90 seconds and a ridiculous 88 percent of his punts have been returned.
Brandon Boykin: D-
The only thing preventing Brandon Boykin from securing an F grade is that he hasn’t lost any fumbles on kick returns. But he’s been painfully boring, averaging just 21.7 yards per kick return with a long of 31. It’s been a full two seasons since the Eagles had a kick return of over 35 yards, and Boykin just doesn’t seem capable of breaking one.
He also pulled off the special teams blunder of the year when he threw the football forward on a lateral play to Riley Cooper.
Damaris Johnson: F
Damaris Johnson has managed to be worse on punt returns than Boykin is on kick returns. Watching Johnson return punts looks like a rookie who has no idea where the coverage is or whether he should call for a fair catch. He’s at just 7.6 yards per punt return on nine returns.
Jon Dorenbos: A
Never has a snap from Jon Dorenbos been anything less than spot on, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.
Andy Reid: F
Andy Reid was officially put on the hot seat by his owner before this season. Jeffery Lurie said another 8-8 season would absolutely be unacceptable.
Reid’s season started well enough with consecutive wins over the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, even if there were plenty of problems apparent. But his mistakes are starting to catch up with him, and it’s going to cost him his job.
Reid’s financial commitment to Michael Vick is a risk that has backfired with the performance from Vick in 2012. The offensive line has taken its fair share of injuries but Reid acquisitions like Danny Watkins and Demetress Bell have backfired.
High-profile acquisitions like Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Babin have underperformed. Old-fashioned coaches like Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn are hurting the Eagles. And the players have reportedly stopped listening to Reid.
Anyone who has ever listened to a Reid press conference knows he’s more than willing to take full responsibility for the performance of the team. The immensely-talented Eagles are 3-5.
That says it all.
Marty Mornhinweg: F
Marty Mornhinweg’s days with the Eagles could be numbered if his offense doesn’t turn it around quickly. Despite a slew of playmakers in Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles rank 29th in the NFL in scoring offense. They haven’t scored more than 24 points in any contest this season, and they’re racking up yards at will without the points to show for it.
Juan Castillo: D
Juan Castillo was made a scapegoat for the Eagles’ all-around failures. His firing was ironic because he never should have been hired. The defense came through for Castillo on several occasions, standing strong against the Browns and Ravens in the first two weeks. The Eagles weren’t getting sacks, though, and Castillo’s in-game adjustments were lacking.
Todd Bowles: F
To be fair, Todd Bowles’s first two games as newly-promoted defensive coordinator came against Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. But Bowles was able to get absolutely no production out of his defense. The Eagles gave up 30 and 28 points against those two teams, recording just two sacks and zero interceptions.
Bobby April: C
Bobby April hasn’t been able to get much from the Eagles’ return game, as Brandon Boykin and Damaris Johnson have each struggled. The Eagles’ return coverage units have also been extremely subpar, and that’s costing the team. But Alex Henery has been remarkably underrated, Mat McBriar has produced as the punter, and the Eagles have started to make plays the last two weeks. Chris Polk forced a fumble on a kick return and then Riley Cooper nearly pulled off the special teams play of the year.