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Eagles' Brandon Graham a positive in a season of negatives

jeff mclane zach berman inquirer

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 03:41 AM

McLane

Eagles' Brandon Graham a positive in a season of negatives

Jeff McLane and Zach Berman, Inquirer Staff Writers

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012, 2:09 AM


Here are some observations and ruminations about Sunday's Eagles-Redskins game:

Brandon Graham's redemption has become one of the positive stories of a forgettable 2012 season.

The Eagles defensive end continued to make plays Sunday. In the first half alone he was directly responsible for stopping two Redskins drives. On the first, he read a Robert Griffin III rollout on fourth down and hurried the quarterback into an errant throw. A series later, on third down, Graham sniffed a shovel pass and deflected the ball, which fell to the ground. The Redskins had to settle for a field goal.

Graham still has a ways to go to justify the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft, but he certainly is on his way.

- Jeff McLane


Reid stays aggressive

Coach Andy Reid took an aggressive approach on the Eagles' opening drive, twice keeping his offense on the field for fourth-and-1 plays. The Eagles converted both times.

On the first conversion, quarterback Nick Foles faked a handoff to running back LeSean McCoy, rolled out to his right, and connected with tight end Brent Celek for 15 yards. On the next conversion, Foles spun his 6-foot-6 frame for 3 yards. Those two plays helped the Eagles eventually score a touchdown.

The Eagles failed on fourth and 2 in the third quarter. They were 9 of 16 on fourth-down conversions entering the game.


- Zach Berman



Foles up and down

Foles strung together two strong drives to open and close the first half, but he was otherwise shaky before the break. His first turnover can accurately be labeled a rookie mistake. A play after holding the ball a tad too long and getting sacked, Foles made an even more egregious decision when he tried to outrun Ryan Kerrigan. The Redskins linebacker sacked the clog-footed Foles from behind and stripped him of the ball for a fumble recovered by cornerback Richard Crawford. Foles should have simply thrown the ball away.

He later threw a pass that was tipped at the line and intercepted by linebacker London Fletcher. The Redskins scored 10 points off the turnovers.

- J.M.


No damage done

Brandon Boykin recorded the first sack by an Eagles defensive back this season when he brought Griffin to the ground in the third quarter. Griffin's intended pass went backyard, making it a fumble. Had the Eagles recovered the fumble - which was 2 yards away from the end zone - they would have tied the game. Instead, the Redskins recovered and stopped the Eagles on the ensuing drive. No damage was done to the Redskins' lead.

- Z.B.


Jury out on Kendricks

Mychal Kendricks' season could be summed up with two successive plays in the first half. On the first, the rookie linebacker reacted late when Griffin tossed a short pass to Alfred Morris after he faked the handoff to the running back. Seventeen yards later, Kendricks brought Morris down. But he bounced back on the next play when Griffin threw a swing pass to Pierre Garcon. Kendricks knifed into the backfield and dropped the wide receiver after he gained only 1 yard.

The recent move to the weak side seems to have benefited the rookie. Kendricks has shown that he is a legitimate starter in the NFL, but the jury is still out on whether he already has reached his ceiling.

- J.M.


Center of attention

Center Dallas Reynolds struggled throughout the first half with snapping the ball in the shotgun formation, often hiking the ball high, even for Foles' tall frame.

Reynolds also was inconsistent as a blocker. Injuries to Pro Bowlers Jason Peters, Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy have dominated headlines this season, but the injury to starting center Jason Kelce was just as costly.

Reynolds has not played up to the level that Kelce was expected to play, and the Eagles are 2-10 with Reynolds as the starter.

- Z.B.

Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.


Jeff McLane and Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writers