WOW. WOW. WOW. That was an awesome start to the season for the Eagles. I thought they would win, but I didn’t think they would be so much fun to watch. In the first half Monday the Eagles didn’t just take the wind out of the Redskins’ sails, they tore them down, threw everyone overboard, and burned the ship. Even after Vick’s turnover on the opening drive that resulted in a DeAngelo Hall touchdown the Eagles light speed pace forced the Redskins into the same tempo, resulting in three first quarter turnovers for Washington. After the jump are more thoughts on the Eagles victory over Washington.
Coming into the season Connor Barwin is the most well respected member of the Eagles linebacking core. When the season is over I think that player will be Kendricks. Despite not recording a sack he was incredibly effective on the inside blitzes, one resulting in a RG3 intentional grounding penalty and on at least two other occasions knocking the fragile QB to the ground. He finished with 10 tackles, 1 for a loss, recovered a fumble, and was a big part of the Eagles effectiveness in stifling Washington’s rushing attack.
RB2 Is Almost Equally As Important As RB1
Leseason McCoy ran for 184 yards on 31 carries and caught 1 pass for 5 yards. So using advanced math I calculated 32 touches for McCoy. Everyone in Philadelphia is excited to see McCoy become the focal point of the offense, but at the same time not many running backs can carry the ball 30 plus times a game without injury. A number of McCoy’s carries came towards the end of the game when the Eagles were trying to run out the clock. The game was in hand so ideally you’d like to see Bryce Brown taking those late game hits. Trouble is I know as a fan I’m not entirely comfortable with Brown’s ability to hold onto the ball. Hopefully that was corrected this off-season, because with the offense moving at Mighty Mouse speed having a second running back to spell McCoy and still be dangerous will make the offense that much better and preserve McCoy for the late season push.
For once an Eagles team looked like they heeded the advice of Scar from The Lion King who announced to Pride Rock to “be prepared.” Too many times the last few years the Eagles came into the first game of the season without being prepared or appearing to have a complete roster. There was the Green Bay opener when Greg Lewis was the PR and couldn’t hold onto the ball. Then there was the Den Klecko experiment at fullback, when he had just made the switch from DL a couple weeks before. And who could forget college outside linebacker Casey Matthews being given the starting middle linebacker job to begin a season. The roster looked complete and unforced errors were minimal.
The Eagles weren’t without issues though. They did rack up 8 penalties in the game, a few of which seemed to short circuit the offense’s momentum. The Eagles had 13 possessions in the game. Two of them ended in turnovers and five of them resulted in putting points on the board. The other six all ended in punts. Of those six drives all but one (A sack) was thwarted when the Eagles picked up a penalty. Once the offense was put in a 3rd and long-ish situation they stalled out. On only two of the drives did the Eagles pick up a first down after committing a penalty.
Vick The Anchor
This was a great win for the Eagles so I hate to bring anything negative to the post, but after watching the offense the biggest drag on them might be Vick. He played very well against Washington, but at the same time only completed 15 of his 25 pass attempts, missed a couple wide open receivers (Cooper comes to mind) and took three sacks. The sacks aren’t all on Vick, but I can recall twice when he just held onto the ball for far too long. And as Bill Barnwell pointed out so well on Grantland, when Vick holds the ball too long bad things happen for the offense.
The Eagles were 7-15 on 3rd down
The Redskins were 2-10 on 3rd down.
That’s a big part of winning games in the NFL
One thing that must happen for the Eagles to find success this season is they are going need to develop some depth all over the field. At WR after losing both Benn and Maclin this team is very thin. On the other side of the ball, really what they need to develop is talent at every position. If Bennie Logan can be a part of the rotation along with Vinny Curry and Damien Square that would be a huge plus. Same goes at safety for Earl Wolff and at CB for Jordan Poyer. The last two are both late round picks so expecting a lot from them is unfair, but thanks to some poor drafts in the past few years they are going be in a position to play.
But What About The Refs???
A little while back the papers and national pundits made a small fuss about how the refs might slow down the pace of Kelly’s offense cause they were going take their time placing the ball down and starting the clock. Did anyone notice this being an issue at all during the game? Probably safe to say it was a story that was manufactured to fill time before the season began.
I made this comment to my friend Tanner (whose name you’ll see a lot in these posts) but in the second half the defense gave up a lot of passes to the Washington receivers. My concern was that they were getting beat, but Tanner accurately pointed out that it looked like more of a scheme issue, with DC Billy Davis electing to have his CBs play off and not allow anything over the top. Oh wait thanks to the Chunger that wasn’t the case for the entire game either. Somewhere Belicheck is laughing about Kelly signing him.
Lets end this on a positive note! How about the blocking downfield by the WRs, particularly Riley Cooper. A number of the plays were extended thanks to the WRs occupying the Washington DBs. They definitely played a big part in McCoy’s 184 rushing yards.
Eliminating Super Bowl Contenders
In addition to review the Eagles games I’m going cross at least one team off the list of those that have a shot at winning the Super Bowl this season.
Oakland Raiders – Terrell Pryor is their starting QB. I’m pretty confident in saying they aren’t going be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this year.
Jacksonville Jaguars – This is a city to feel bad for. They put up two points this week against KC. Blaine Gabbert is the QB. MJD is over the hill. Justin Blackmon is suspended. They let Nike go wild with the new uniforms, which resulted in a catastrophe, and they have yet to bring in Tim Tebow. By the next time these guys will be in the Super Bowl conversation I could very well have a child.