Chip Kelly admitted during his postgame press conference that the Birds may have taken their foot off the gas pedal once they were ahead, 33-7, early in the third quarter. After the Redskins nearly came back—and actually would have had a chance to win if they only recovered an onside kick—it’s a mistake I doubt Kelly will make again anytime soon.
So while this wasn’t the blowout it appeared it was going to be at one point, a lot of the blame probably rests with strategy. The Eagles flat-out dominated Washington for large portions of the action, which you’ll see play out in the grades.
Great win for the Birds in Kelly’s debut, and if they get anywhere near this level of production from most of these positions, this team has a chance to go a lot farther than the prognosticators thought.
There was a lot to like about Michael Vick’s first game in Chip Kelly’s offense. He made explosive plays down the field in the form of 25- and 28-yard touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek, respectively. Vick also added 54 yards and a score on the ground.
We’ll even absolve Vick for a “backward pass” that wound up going for six points the other way—the officials appeared to get that call wrong.
It’s the little things that kept Vick from an "A." His 60 percent completion rate is fine, but he did miss on a few attempts. He also held the ball too long on occasion, taking three sacks. In fact, sticking to that theme, Vick took too many hits in general and was noticeably hobbled by the end of the game—he needs to get rid of the football or get down when he takes off.
If that sounds like nitpicking, well it is to a degree. Vick still graded out well, but there is room for improvement.
LeSean McCoy’s 184 rushing yards came one yard shy of a career high, while his 31 carries were the most he’s recorded in a single game. And that 34-yard touchdown run? A thing of beauty.
Bryce Brown carried an additional nine times for 25 yards. His night would have been better were it not for a five-yard loss he ate while trying to bounce a run outside.
Most importantly, neither guy put the ball on the carpet. Shady appeared to get a little gassed by the end, but who could blame him? Great effort from a guy destined to return to the Pro Bowl as long as he remains in good health.
DeSean Jackson bailed out the rest of his unit on Monday night. With seven receptions on nine targets for 104 yards and a 25-yard touchdown, "DJacc" was the only Eagles receiver who made a positive impact.
Riley Cooper was practically invisible (2 REC, 14 YDS, 6 TGTS), while Jason Avant’s fourth-quarter fumble allowed Washington to climb back into the game. Nobody else registered a catch or even a target.
And as good as Jackson was, he was fortunate the refs kept the yellow flags in their pockets after he shoved cornerback DeAngelo Hall on the Redskins sideline. We decided not to penalize him for that either, but it’s unfortunate you still have to worry about those kinds of extracurricular activities from a sixth-year veteran.
For all the talk of Kelly relying heavily on tight ends, we didn’t necessarily see that on Monday—at least in the passing game.
Brent Celek and rookie Zach Ertz combined for six targets on Vick’s 25 pass attempts or 24 percent. Between the two of them, they finished with three receptions for 67 yards, and Celek found the end zone once.
James Casey, one of the Eagles’ free-agent signings in the offseason, was not a part of the offense, and Emil Igwenagu was inactive. So the guys who played were fine, but it was nothing really to write home about here.
Philadelphia’s offensive line absolutely dominated in the trenches during the first half and won most of the battles for all 60 minutes. The quarterback was seldom under pressure. The running backs combined for over 200 yards on the ground.
In other words, this was the polar opposite of any Eagles game last season.
Left tackle Jason Peters looked like his old self in his first game after rupturing his Achilles tendon 18 months ago, and I especially enjoyed Chip Kelly’s deployment of an unbalanced line. On Shady McCoy’s 34-yard touchdown run, right tackle Lane Johnson was lined up at guard to Peters’ right, and the two of them plowed the road for the dazzling score.
Nothing major to dislike here. The Birds line appears to be back as one of the club’s strengths.
Hard to single out many players before we’ve had a chance to watch the tape, because the Eagles were really swarming the line of scrimmage early in the game.
Fletcher Cox got some good pressure on Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, coming up with a sack and hitting the quarterback one other time. Cedric Thornton finished with a tackle for a loss and batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
On the other hand, it was almost as if starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga didn’t dress—at least he’s not on the stat sheet.
Solid game defensively overall. That all starts up front, so it’s sort of impossible to hand out a bad grade.
Wow! Where to begin?
The outside linebackers were solid. Trent Cole made a huge impact in his first game out there, stripping Alfred Morris for an early turnover and falling on top of the running back for a safety—Cole finished with four tackles and two QB hits. Connor Barwin made some solid effort plays as well.
On the inside is where the real work was done, though. Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans combined for 18 tackles (10 SOLO), two tackles for loss, a sack, a fumble recovery and three hits on the quarterback.
Kendricks, in particular, just seemed to be all over the field, and if training camp was any indication, the second-year player out of Cal may be just beginning to come into his own.
Great game for both of these units, as they had a big hand in taking RG3 out of his element early, not to mention limiting Morris to 45 yards on the ground.
It’s hard to tell how much they benefited from a tremendous pass rush early and how much it hurt when they seem to dial back the pressure in the second half. It’s hard to find much to complain about with the primary players either.
The two newcomers showed they were worth the investment—Cary Williams with a sack and an interception and Bradley Fletcher with seven tackles and all-around solid effort. Brandon Boykin also came up with a pick.
Seventh-round rookie Jordan Poyer was not impressive in his limited role, although there probably is no need to hold him up to the flame yet.
This group was physical. They made plays. It was a huge improvement over any game the combination of Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ever played in Philly.
The Eagles’ safeties were probably headed for as high a score as they’ve seen in years until late. Patrick Chung’s lack of ball skills on Griffin’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson in the fourth quarter was disconcerting to say the least.
Chung was strong in the box, though, as was backfield mate Nate Allen. When RG3 attempted to go down the field, he wasn’t on the mark, but the QB didn’t try often, indicating the coverage was there.
If nothing else, it’s a good sign for Allen that rookie Earl Wolff didn’t get in the game much, something Chip Kelly told reporters would happen.
Chung’s effort in the end zone was the lone black mark, but again, Washington didn’t really seem capable of testing the Birds deep. Nothing spectacular from this duo either.
Masterful performance from Philadelphia’s special teams, particularly when punting the football. Punter Donnie Jones pinned Washington inside their own 20-yard line on four of his six punts.
Alex Henery was perfect on the field goal and extra points, and Damaris Johnson’s lone kick return went for 27 yards.
The only question I have is what the thinking was on the Redskins’ onside attempt at the end of the game. Jason Avant was all alone to recover the bouncing ball, which very nearly ended in disaster. Philly recovered and went on to win, so crisis averted, but special teams coordinator, Dave Fipp, might want to consider something safer for next time.