The Eagles finally ended their losing streak by beating the Giants on Christmas in what was ultimately a close game. Despite some frustrating moments on both sides of the ball, the Eagles youngsters played a really encouraging game.
Jalen Carter: C+
Another quiet day for Jalen Carter. Although he faced some pressures at the passer, he continued to struggle to make an impact as a run defender. In fact, Matt Patricia seemed to want Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, or Milton Williams on the field on early downs. This might be a better long-term pick to keep the rookie fresh for the playoffs, but it’s worth noting that Carter’s run defense is no longer reliable. Carter also had a penalty that hurt the Eagles defense (he turned a 4th and 4 punt into a first down) and probably should have had a second one (the Giants were questionably called for a foul departure).
Nolan Smith: B
Due to injuries to the linebacker group, Nolan Smith played off-ball linebacker in sub-packages. His athleticism allowed him to move towards the ball with ease, but it was evident that he struggled to break down and make tackles from this position. When Smith played on the edge, he made some nice plays and rushing tackles. He is slowly progressing and becoming an interesting player in the Eagles defense.
Sydney Brown: B
Sydney Brown continues to be deployed in a variety of ways and he continues to play hard on every snap. He made a really good fourth-and-one coverage play to keep the Giants from converting. He also made a bad tackle attempt where his arm hit a sliding Giants quarterback in the head to earn a penalty. It wasn’t intentional, but that flag is thrown every time, and it negated an offensive call that would have put the Giants back at 1st and 20.
Kelee Ringo: A+
Kudos to Kelee Ringo, man. After being relegated to special teams until earlier this month, Ringo looked fantastic as an outside cornerback through two games starting. Ringo’s athleticism allows him to stay in coverage with anyone and he is a fearless tackler and had some impressive hits in the Giants game. Ringo’s biggest plays came in coverage as he defended a very nice pass later in the game and, of course, sealed the game with an interception in the end zone. Ringo was a revelation for a secondary that struggled to find answers. When Darius Slay returns, he and Ringo should be the starters on the outside.
Eli Ricks: B
Ricks continues to rotate, playing in the slot and outside. He bounced back from a rough mid-season stretch to play some really solid football. It will be interesting to see how Ricks factors into the defense when Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox return.
Ben VanSumeren: B
Ben VanSumeren went from a UDFA who hadn’t made a single defensive play all year to playing inside linebacker for the Eagles in a must-win game. VanSumeren held his own, rarely giving up big plays. Obviously he’s raw and got beat on the outside on a few plays, but he wasn’t a total liability. VanSumeren had a good play in the game where he smartly sniffed a screen to Saquon Barkley and caused a two-yard loss by bottling up the talented runner. Ideally, the Eagles won’t have to rely much more on VanSumeren this season, but he deserves credit for playing four quarters of decent football.
- Tyler Steen had to sit and watch Sua Opeta play left guard with Landon Dickerson out. Opeta had a good game, so Steen will continue to come on the bench.
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