Eagles

Eagles vs. Redskins Week 1 Observations and Reaction with Videos

Philadelphia Eagles - Hunter Martin

It was an all too familiar nail-biting scenario, but this time things turned out different.

And with a little luck, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to vanquish their frustrating five-game losing streak against the Washington Redskins.

Brandon Graham burst out of his stance and easily circled around Morgan Moses before getting his hand up to deflect a Kirk Cousins pass. Fletcher Cox was in the backfield as well and picked up the loose ball prior to waltzing into the end zone to seal the 30-17 Eagles victory.

Yes, the Redskins were shafted and maybe Cousins would’ve led a touchdown drive. Emphasis on the word maybe, though. He led a late scoring trek during a 23-20 Week 4 win two years ago in 2015, but this Eagles’ defensive line was consistently in the backfield going up against arguably a top-five offensive line. They had four sacks in all, including a pair from Graham. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz also called a bunch of well-timed blitzes to generate pressure and aid the defensive backfield following the Ronald Darby injury on third down. This was the same defense that generated just two sacks in two games against Washington last season. Cousins struggled and the heavy heat forced him to complete just 23 of his 40 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown and a key pick in the red zone to Jalen Mills.

Carson Wentz was 26-of-39 for 307 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and this 58-yard bomb to Nelson Agholor was vintage Wentz, using his burly frame and sneaky quickness to elude defenders in the backfield while locating receivers and keeping his eyes downfield. It’s an amazing gift he has.

Agholor’s strong Training Camp translated into Week 1. He had six catches for 86 yards in all, while Redskins killer Zach Ertz contributed with several key third-down receptions. He led the team with eight receptions for 93 yards. It wasn’t a good debut for Alshon Jeffery, who caught just three balls for 38 yards, but one of those was a key 24-yard snag during a crucial fourth-quarter possession to put the Eagles into field-goal range.

Ronald Darby’s injury was devastating, but turns out it actually might not be as bad as it initially appeared. He went down with a non-contact injury, which appeared to be a broken right foot. He was carted off the field.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provided an update on Darby and said the X-rays were negative. He’ll get an MRI tomorrow to check for ligament and tendon damage.

The best case scenario is a mid-season return after I immediately feared his season was lost.


 

Mills and Patrick Robinson stepped up in Darby’s absence, with Mills recording that key red-zone interception. It didn’t look good early after the Redskins stormed back from the Eagles’ 13-0 advantage, scoring a pair of touchdowns following the injury, but the Eagles were able to manufacture three points right before the half to take a 16-14 lead into the break. I thought these three points were key to establish the momentum back. Wentz moved the chains twice on third down and found Ertz, who was able to get into Sturgis territory and sneak out of bounds. Sturgis then connected from 50 yards out.

Philadelphia was able to drive down the field on its initial touch of the second half, but this was a key drop from Jeffery. He was able to get separation on star Redskins cornerback Josh Norman with hand usage, but couldn’t corral the ball in with safety D.J. Swearinger lurking. The Birds settled for a 42-yard Sturgis field-goal and a 19-14 advantage.

Robinson and Mills held up against Terrelle Pryor on the ensuing Redskins possession and a Dustin Hopkins 33-yard boot kept the Eagles in front 19-17.

Following an Eagles punt, Washington moved the ball deep into Eagles territory, but Malcolm Jenkins did a good job of defending Jordan Reed and Mills came up with the critical interception a play later to preserve the Eagles’ margin.

A key Eagles drive came early in the fourth, even though it didn’t generate any points. The nine-play, 34-yard touch milked 5:38 off the clock and flipped field position. The march began at their own 15 at the 12:21 mark. Wendell Smallwood shifted into the slot from the backfield and hauled in a quick-out to convert a 3rd-and-4, then patience in the pocket and a perfect throw to Ertz moved the chains on a 3rd-and-10.

Then came this gorgeous Donnie Jones’ punt, which was downed at the one with 6:51 remaining in the game.

The Eagles forced a quick three-and-out and this 24-yard reception from Jeffery led to a 37-yard field goal, upping the gap to 22-17 and forcing the Skins to go all the way down the field for the score.

A final mini rant before I close, Doug Pederson’s play-calling was horrendous, he does not deserve a pass. His decision to throw a swing pass backwards to Agholor with Philly having a all of the momentum was mind-boggling.

While we came into the season assuming LeGarrette Blount would get about 12-15 carries a game, each contest is different. This was one of those games he should’ve hand 20-25 carries. He was consistently rumbling up the middle for positive yardage on first and second down. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the defense would’ve been gassed. Pederson elected to use Blount just 14 times, however, for 46 yards. I understand passing to set up the run, but the Eagles were up 13-0 and kept throwing. Blount should’ve been used more.

Even the series of play calls around the goal line when the Eagles went up 13-0. Blount had picked up two yards on first down to move the ball to the one, but Pederson called a pass on second down and had Blount in shotgun on third running a swing pass. The play wound up working, but Blount should be surging between the tackles, not trying to be a DeMarco Murray clone.

Other than that, how can you complain?

This was a huge victory with a tough showdown in Kansas City looming. A 1-1 start after two games was what I was hoping for and the Birds already got one win out of the way. On to Arrowhead!

 


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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