TOLD you that we’d start slow. Honestly, if not for a couple of fluke scores by Washington, the final score wouldn’t be as close as it looks on paper. We went into halftime down 7 – 20, and still I was in good spirits. Because I already knew.
Some people will want to tell you that QB Carson Wentz (28/39 – 71.7% – 313 – 3 – 0) isn’t clutch, because he doesn’t have many 4th quarter comebacks. I on the other hand, think it’s nice when the comeback effort is complete before the 4th quarter.
There is no way to talk about this game without mentioning the whuppin’ that WR DeSean Jackson (8 – 154 – 19.2 – 2) put on the Redskins secondary. He teamed up with Wentz for two scoring strikes of 50 plus yards. One of which caused ‘skins CB Josh Norman (4 – 0 – 0 – 0) to spontaneously burst into flames.
For some reason, the Eagles chose to use RB Jordan Howard (6 – 44 – 7.3 – 0 – 0) sparingly, despite him being most effective ball carrier on the team. Rookie RB Miles Sanders (11 – 25 – 2.2 – 0 – 0) got the start, but spent too many of his first steps trying to pick a spot, instead of running with authority to dictate a spot.
Getting in on the run game was WR Alshon Jeffery (5 – 49 – 9 – 1 / 1 – 2 – 2.0 – 1 – 0), who ran for a 2 yard score, as well as catching a 5 yard score on a Crossing route in the back of the endzone.
Defensively the Eagles surrendered 380 passing yards on 30 of 44 passing (68.1%), and 28 rushing yards on 13 carries (2.1ypc). Some sloppy tackling allowed an ancient TE to score on a 48 yard catch and run. Later on, a poorly called defense allowed CB Rasul Douglas (3 – 0 – 0 – 0) to get matched up on a guy with 4.35 speed, with no Safety help over the top. Douglas isn’t a burner, so naturally he was easily beaten for a 69 yard catch and run, on a Skinny Post route.
These were of course, fluke type touchdowns. Even before halftime, the Eagles were showing that they could get a handle on the Redskin offense. So the second half was a completely different story, with the Eagles outscoring the ‘skins 25 – 7. Because well…
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. We introduce an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that fans have to honestly answer questions about those things, AFTER the game. This helps to get us, and keep us, all on the same page.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for (link to parent article) in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) Be aggressive early: We really didn’t come out very aggressively at all. Short screens, running the ball with RB Darren Sproles (9 – 47 – 5.2 – 0 – 0) on the opening drive. It had the feel of this week’s Bears/Packers game, where Bears coach Matt Nagy kept getting cute with his playcalling. Our aggression showed up late, which is better than not at all. However, not showing it early, is also why we fell behind. (NOT DONE)
2) Shred their o-line: Early on it looked like this wouldn’t get done. Then the defensive interior began to assert itself. DT Timmy Jernigan (1 – 1 – 0 – 0) grabbed a sack, and DT Fletcher Cox (2 – 0 – 0 – 0) managed a tackle for a loss. The stat-lines aren’t sexy, but the line generated pressure and made it hard for their QB to settle his feet. (DONE)
3) Work the edges: While TE Zach Ertz (5 – 54 – 10.8 – 0) only saw 7 targets in this game, most of them were Outs and passes to the Flat. That worked to pull the LB’s and S’s towards the sides, and opened up the run inside. (DONE)
4) Play press coverage: The Eagles played tighter cushions when the Redskins went into Bunch formations. However, when the ‘skins spread out, our CB’s allowed those 6, 7, and 8 yard cushions to creep back onto the field. The result was allowing the Redskins to complete 68% of their passes. Unacceptable. (NOT DONE)
So we open the season with 2 out of 4 things done. To be fair, even the things we didn’t do, we kinda did, but standards are strict here. Next week we head down to the A-T-L, to raise some major hell. After watching tape of the Wentz/Jackson show, I’m sure their coaches won’t sleep all week. Should make next Sunday night’s game more interesting than tonight’s Steelers and Patriots re-enactment of the Rodney King beating.
On The Whole:
This game was far more competitive than it should have been. I predicted a slow start, but c’mon guy! Our Offensive playcalling looked downright timid to start.
While Sproles is a nifty change of pace runner, he has no business running between the Tackles in the first quarter. Sanders showed some speed to the outside, but he was out-classed by Howard’s decisiveness, power, and patience. The Eagles indicated in this game that they’re trying to make the same mistake with Howard, that Chicago did, last year. Namely, putting someone before him, who isn’t as good as him.
Wentz looked like the butcher that sliced up defenses in 2017. He wasn’t just a guy with a lot of weapons. He was a guy who knew how to use them. Two ballistic missiles to Jackson. Waving Ertz into position on a scramble. Throwing Jeffery open in the endzone. Wentz was conducting a symphony while extracting teeth, out there.
I have a nagging gripe about this game. DE Derek Barnett (3 – 0 – 0 – 0) did not do a consistent job of setting the edge today. Too often he lined up like was going to cross the DT’s gap, and then crashed down inside, leaving room for boots and Screens. This is the same thing that used to happen when DE Trent Cole played that same spot in Jim Washburn’s version of the Wide 9.
The team showed resiliency this week, but they need to show some grit as well. Overall, it’s just small things here and there. There’s nothing that can’t be ironed out in the next couple of weeks.