Eagles midseason report card: Zach Ertz A-plus, Carson Wentz B-plus, more

Philadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz NFL Jacksonville Jaguars

At the midway point of the 2018 NFL regular season, the Philadelphia Eagles are sitting in second place in the NFC East with a record of 4-4.

Last Sunday, the Eagles defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-18, at Wembley Stadium in London, England. With everything that has happened to them this season, it is a miracle that Philly is at the .500 mark with eight games to go to and still has a puncher’s chance to win the division.

However, it will not be easy for the defending Super Bowl champs as they have a huge divisional matchup next Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. But before we can look forward to the Cowboys, the Eagles are on the bye for Week 9, so it is a perfect opportunity to sit back and evaluate each position group.

Some position groups have played better than expected through eight games, while others have been unexpectedly disappointing with a ton of room for improvement.

Here are Metro’s midseason grades for the Eagles:

1. Quarterback: B+

Despite only having four wins on the season, quarterbacks Nick Foles and Carson Wentz have done their jobs under center.

Foles started the first two games of the season for the Eagles and played well without having the option to throw the ball to Alshon Jeffery. Then in Week 3, Wentz took over and he picked up where he left off last season.

Through six games, Wentz is completing a career-high 70.7 percent of his passes for 1,788 yards, 13 touchdowns, and two interceptions. For a player, who suffered a horrific knee injury last December, he looks much more improved.

2. Running back: B

Heading into this season, there were many questions surrounding the running back group. Fans and analysts alike wondered if Jay Ajayi could become the Eagles’ feature back and could Darren Sproles hold up for an entire season?

Well, through eight games, the running back position has been in a state of flux but holding their own. Ajayi started out the season on the right foot, but suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings, effectively ending his season.

Sproles, however, suffered a nagging hamstring injury back in Week 2 and has not been on the field since then.

Therefore, it left the young trio of Josh Adams, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood to carry the workload. To the surprise of everybody, the young trio has not backed down from the challenge and instead done what they needed to do to help out Carson Wentz.

Adams showcased his toughness last week against the Jaguars, rushing for a career-high 61 yards on nine carries, while Smallwood has been the dual purpose back that the Eagles are missing with Sproles on the shelf.

Finally, there is Clement, who does a little bit of everything and is a viable weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. They might not be the most talented bunch, but they have a lot of heart and point to prove each week.

3. Wide receiver: B+

Just like at RB, the wide receiver spot has been a conundrum for the Eagles to start the season. In the first two weeks, they lost both Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins to injuries and did not have Jeffery yet, who was still rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

This meant that the Eagles were left with Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, Shelton Gibson, Kamar Aiken Sr. and DeAndre Carter. It was not an impressive bunch to go to war with but Jeffery returned in Week 4 and re-established himself as a No.1 wide receiver in the NFL.

Agholor, however, has not had it easy this season on the outside, but that could change with the recent acquisition of Golden Tate from the Detroit Lions.

4. Tight end: A+

The only reason the tight ends get an A-plus is Zach Ertz. Ertz is the best tight end in the NFL this season and is on a record-setting pace.

In eight games, the 27-year-old already has 61 receptions (84 targets) for 644 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, Ertz only 74 receptions (110 targets) for 824 yards and eight touchdowns.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Ertz finishes with over 90 catches and close 1,000 receiving yards.

5. Offensive line: C+

The only two consistent members on the line this season have been center Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks.

Outside of those two, left tackle Jason Peters is battling through injuries and looking old, left guard is a toss-up between Stefen Wisniewski and Issac Seumalo, and right tackle Lane Johnson is out with a knee injury.

For the Eagles to have success in the second half, they will need the line to play much better, especially in pass protection. This season, Wentz has fumbled the ball away seven times in six games and been sacked 21 times.

6. Defensive line: B-

Just like the offensive line, the Eagles’ defensive line has been banged up too this season. Before last Sunday’s game against the Jags, second-year defensive end Derek Barnett was ruled out for the rest of the year due to shoulder surgery.

In addition to Barnett, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is still not available yet to play. However, Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett, and Chris Long have all played outstanding in the absences of these players.

7. Linebackers: B+

There are really not a lot of negative things to say about the Eagles’ linebacker unit. What was looking like a position of concern heading into the season, they have played well.

Fifth-year linebacker Jordan Hicks has thankfully stayed healthy through eight games, Nigel Bradham, who missed the first game due to an off the field incident has not skipped a beat, and Kamu Grugier-Hill has been a pleasant surprise when it comes to stopping the run.

8. Secondary: C-

The Eagles’ secondary has been under intense scrutiny this season and for good reason: they continuously give up the big play.

Cornerback Jalen Mills is consistently targeted by opposing teams each week because they know he is liable to bite on the double move. Ronald Darby, however, has played better, but can fall victim to the same thing.

Furthermore, rookie Avonte Maddox has done an admirable job playing free safety in place of veteran Rodney McLeod, who went down with a season-ending injury in Week 3. We cannot forget about Sidney Jones too, who is dealing with an injury, but holding his own in the slot.

9. Special Teams: B

Punter Cam Johnston is doing it for #thebrand as Pat McAfee would say, averaging 49.9 yards per punt. Kicker Jake Elliott is struggling just a tad bit, only converting 75 percent of his field goals.
 

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