For a fifth consecutive week, the Eagles linebackers proved to be the defense’s most glaring weakness during Sunday’s 38-29 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Nathan Gerry and Alex Singleton were abysmal in coverage as a duo, allowing seven catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.
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The main culprit of the linebacker woes, Gerry (47.6 overall rating), allowed four receptions for 51 yards and two scores, including the game-clinching, fourth-quarter touchdown reception to Steelers rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool.
At this point, it would be hard to play worse than Gerry has through five games, especially in coverage. According to PFF, Gerry is allowing a 154.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. Opposing receivers have caught all 23 passes thrown their way — with Gerry in coverage — for 267 yards and four touchdowns in just five games.
While the Eagles seemingly aren’t eager to put rookies Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley on the field, it’s alarming that the front office hasn’t sought out veteran help in free agency with the way Gerry has played to start the campaign. He just isn’t playing well enough for the defense to feature him on all three downs.
A former college safety, Gerry is supposed to be a standout in coverage on defense. Instead, he’s been the unit’s Achilles heel in that regard. It’s time to make a change with Gerry, even with T.J. Edwards on injured reserve.
Here are five other takeaways from PFF’s Eagles-Steelers grades for Week 5:
Jordan Mailata holds his own while the rest of the O-line struggles
Mailata’s play in his second career start was encouraging. While Mailata graded “okay” as a pass protector, the Australian stood out as a run blocker. He ranked among the Top 5 offensive players for the Eagles during the matchup, earning an overall grade of 68.9 for his performance.
While the rest of the offensive line struggled — including All-Pro center Jason Kelce (58.9) — against the Steelers’ formidable pass rush, Mailata had a solid showing for a second straight outing. The same couldn’t be said for right guard Matt Pryor (41.8) or left guard Nate Herbig (55.3). Both interior linemen struggled, specifically Pryor, who was the worst-graded offensive player for the Eagles in Week 5.
Carson Wentz puts together his best performance of 2020
While the bar was set pretty low during the first quarter of the season, Wentz put on a clinic compared to his first month of the campaign. He received an 81.9 rating from PFF, as he looked as poised and accurate as he had all season. While he only had a 57.1 completion percentage, Wentz led four scoring drives and made some big plays on third down with his arm.
Wentz’s connection with wide receiver Travis Fulgham (more on him later) was special, and it allowed the quarterback to have a go-to target in the game. Wentz didn’t do enough to win the game, but his progress after an alarming start to the season is encouraging. Wentz’s PFF grade has gone up every week this season.
Zach Ertz continues to struggle in a down year
The Eagles’ top playmaker caught just one pass for six yards against the Steelers. As mentioned by NJ Advance Media on Monday, there seems to be a legitimate disconnect between Ertz and Wentz through the first five games of the season. Wentz’s timing with the tight end has been off, and Ertz earned his worst grade of the season (53.5) against Pittsburgh. That mark was Ertz’s lowest grade since last year’s Week 14 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
As of now, Ertz is on pace for his worst-graded season by PFF standards. His current 60.9 rating is a complete 10 points lower than his previous low mark of 70.9 in 2016. For the Eagles to turn this season around, they need Ertz and Wentz to get back on the same page.
Travis Fulgham is a “beast”
Wentz called Fulgham a “beast” following his 10-catch performance against the Steelers. The duo connected for 152 yards and a touchdown in Week 5. Fulgham wasn’t just catching wide-open passes, he was actually competing for the ball regularly and still winning consistently. His 93.0 rating was the top grade on the entire team on Sunday. Through two games, Fulgham has a 91.2 grade with a rating of 90.7 as a pass-catcher and 74.3 as a run-blocker.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound practice squad call-up has 12 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns through just two games. He already has three catches of 20 or more yards.
A mixed bag for the secondary
Cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc (30.9) had the worst PFF grade on the entire team against the Steelers. LeBlanc allowed catches on all six targets thrown his way for 41 yards, and he graded very poorly as a tackler (28.9). Jalen Mills, who returned to the cornerback position for a second consecutive week, also struggled. PFF gave Mills a grade of 53.0, as he received poor marks against both the run and the pass.
On the flip side, safety Rodney McLeod (69.0) and cornerbacks Craig James (77.3) and Nickell Robey-Coleman (71.9) were graded favorably. McLeod was all over the field on Sunday and PFF graded him very well as a tackler (83.2). James, who filled in for cornerback Darius Slay toward the end of the game, also received high marks as a tackler (72.5) and coverage man (77.5). Robey-Coleman had been struggling as of late, but PFF thought he put forth a strong all-around performance on Sunday.
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