Eagles analysis

Eagles grades by position after wild card loss to Buccaneers 

The Eagles lost to the Buccaneers in the wild-card round on Monday night. Here are our position grades.

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NBC Universal, Inc. Reuben Frank and Ron Jaworski share their instant reactions after the Eagles’ loss to the Buccaneers in the wild card round of the NFL Playoffs.

TAMPA — This was a fitting way to cap off one of the biggest collapses in NFL history.

Many of the same issues that plagued the Eagles during their late-season slide popped up again in an embarrassing 32-9 wild-card loss to the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Monday night.

We’ve gotten used to saying this, but the grades aren’t pretty.

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts: 25/35, 250 yards, 1 TD

If you just looked at the stat sheet, you might think Hurts had a pretty good game. He didn’t. The Eagles’ offense was stuck in quicksand for most of Monday night and the quarterback wasn’t even close to pulling them out of it. He did hit DeVonta Smith on a beautiful deep ball but that was just about it. The safety Hurts took in the third quarter was a back-breaker. It pushed the Buccaneers’ lead to two scores and then they got another touchdown on the ensuing drive. Ballgame. Hurts somehow took a safety on a play that started at the Eagles’ 14-yard line. Just inexcusable situational awareness from a veteran quarterback on a big stage. And even a couple plays before, Hurts failed to block for Kenny Gainwell on a six-yard loss. During the regular season, yeah, Hurts has to get out of the way. In the playoffs? Gotta block. The Eagles’ quarterback regressed in 2023 and they have to try to get him back on track in 2024.

Grade: D

Running back

D’Andre Swift: 10 carries, 34 yards

In a game without A.J. Brown, it might have made sense for the Eagles to rely on their rushing attack. They did go for 201 yards on the ground against the Bucs back in Week 3, after all. But the run game was relatively ineffective and the Eagles got away from it even before they got down big in this game. Swift is one of the players with juice on offense and he should have been a bigger part of this game. We mentioned that Gainwell play earlier but that was a big loss of six yards in a backed up situation.

Grade: C-

Receiver

DeVonta Smith: 8 catches on 12 targets, 148 yards

At least one guy showed up. Smith had an incredible night, setting a franchise record for receiving yards in a playoff game. As a 2021 draft pick, Smith has now played three NFL seasons and is eligible for a contract extension. Howie Roseman better pay that man. He’s already a really good player and is probably underutilized in this offense. Not much to show from the other receivers without Brown. Julio Jones had 3 catches for 22 yards but suffered a concussion on a 14-yard catch in the first half. Give him credit for holding on to the football. That might have been the final NFL play for a future Hall of Famer.

Grade: C

Tight end

Dallas Goedert: 4 catches on 6 targets, 21 yards, 1 TD

Without Brown, it would have made sense for Goedert to play a bigger role and that didn’t really happen either. His numbers were pedestrian. The Eagles used some 12 personnel in this game and that didn’t work either. Goedert and Hurts seemed to get into it on the sideline. When asked about that moment after the game, Goedert downplayed it.

Grade: C-

Offensive line

The offensive line probably wasn’t the Eagles’ biggest problem in this game but no one on offense was good except for Smith. The Eagles still struggled against the blitz and while there’s plenty of blame to go around for that, some of it has to go to the offensive line. It seemed like this was Jason Kelce’s final NFL game, which is a shame for him to have to go out like this.

Grade: C

Defensive line

Brandon Graham: 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 3 TFLs

The Eagles’ defensive line finally got a few key sacks. The Milton Williams one to push the Buccaneers out of field goal range was a huge play when he made it. But the Bucs also ran for 119 yards in this game and there were also plenty of moments where Mayfield wasn’t feeling the pressure like he needed to.

Grade: C

Linebacker

Nick Morrow: 10 tackles, 1 TFL

It’ll be fascinating to see if this season will make Eagles general manager Howie Roseman reassess the positional values the organization has held so dear the last few decades. Because it’s one thing to not sink crazy resources into the linebacker position but this year was really bad. The Eagles’ top linebackers all season were Nicholas Morrow and Zach Cunningham. One guy didn’t make the 53-man roster and the other signed on Aug. 6. It should be no surprise that Cade Otton — Cade Freaking Otton — shredded this team on Monday.

Grade: F

Secondary

Avonte Maddox: 7 tackles

Mayfield, with injured ribs and ankle, threw for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Eagles. Just imagine if the Bucs didn’t drop a ton of passes in this game. The secondary just had zero answers in this one. One thing they tried was finally benching James Bradberry in the base defense at times and even that didn’t work. The crazy thing is that Mike Evans didn’t kill the Eagles alone. Five different Bucs had 45+ receiving yards. It was a total team failure and there was no tackling going on in this game.

Grade: F

Special teams

Braden Mann: 4 punts, 47.0 average

The Eagles’ special teams units have been solid all year but even they had some rough moments in this game. Britain Covey muffed a punt return and nearly turned the ball over. Mann’s average of 47.0 isn’t bad but he had an ugly 35-yarder that would have pinned the Bucs deep with a better punt. At least Jake Elliott made his field goal attempt.

Grade: C

Coaching

Record: 11-7

The Eagles were a poorly coached football team down the stretch so it’s not a surprise that they were a poorly coached football team in their playoff loss. The Eagles’ defense has been a disaster for a long while and it’s obvious they need to find a new defensive coordinator. The big question is whether or not they’ll be looking for a new head coach. While Nick Sirianni had this team in the Super Bowl last year, the way the Eagles collapsed down the stretch and the way they lost these games in embarrassing fashion has opened the door for those questions about his future. It could be an interesting few weeks at the NovaCare Complex.

Grade: F

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