One need not be a football expert to notice the Eagles defense had a new look as they kicked off their season with a 30-17 victory.
Sure, there were a handful of uncomfortable penalties and the issues in the team’s secondary have gotten even worse as the team could be without ace cornerback Ronald Darby for the rest of the season.
But the Redskins offensive line looked like it was held together with duct tape and bailing wire as the four and sometimes five-man rush from Philly’s front seven gave Kirk Cousins constant pressure. In all, Philly’s defense collected four sacks and countless more hurries, making the rest of the defense look like a Jim Schwartz concoction. They also forced and recovered two key fumbles.
The Eagles were far from perfect Sunday afternoon but did just enough to get the job done. Here are three things we learned in Week 1:
The Eagles top stars wasted no time showing they deserve national attention, as Carson Wentz maneuvered around the pocket, juking and spurning defenders on the Birds’ opening drive to launch a third down pass to Nelson Agholor. The third year wideout did the rest, taking the toss 58 yards to the end zone to give Philly an early 7-0 lead.
In the following defensive stand, another Eagles’ star Fletcher Cox showed he was an immediate beneficiary of the reloaded and talented pass rush, hugging Cousins to the ground and jarring the ball loose, recovered by Jordan Hicks. Cox picked up a second forced fumble, and recovered it for a touchdown late th the fourth to clinch a ‘W,’
Wentz would throw for 307 yards, with 93 of them going to tight end Zach Ertz — who was a frequent savior after several Wentz scrambles away from Redskins pass rushes. The defense, the other big star of the game, held Washington to just 264 yards and one offensive score.
Philly coughed up its own fumble on a bizarre backwards pass in the first quarter but equalized it when Trey Burton dove on top of a muffed punt return by Washington’s Jamison Crowder. Eight plays later, Wentz connected on his second touchdown pass of the half finding LeGarrette Blount at the goal line and padding the Eagles lead to 13 points (after Caleb Stugris missed the extra point try).
Later in the second quarter, feeling pressure in the pocket Carson Wentz saw a pass tipped and sail into the arms of Ryan Kerrigan, who took it to the house to cut Philly’s edge to six points.
Clinging to a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, Jalen Mills chose a great time for his first career interception, stifling Kirk Cousins’ march down the field with a pick in the end zone to preserve a slim margin for the Eagles.
After changing possessions a few times, the Eagles tacked on a field goal to go ahead 22-17 with just inside two minutes left, needing to keep Cousins out of the end zone to hang on for a win. The fourth and most significant Redskins turnover came late in the fourth when A speed rush from Cox and Brandon Graham led to contact as Cousins threw a pass — which was ruled a fumble. Cox sprinted into the end zone to put Philly up for good 30-17 after a Wentz to Alshon Jeffery two-point conversion.
After trading Jordan Matthews and a draft pick in a shocking training camp trade, Darby appeared to be the lockdown corner the Eagles desperately needed to shore up a shaky secondary. In the second quarter the corner appeared to badly role his ankle — just what the Eagles didn’t need. He was carted off the field and later was revealed to have a dislocated ankle. The Eagles also lost Jason Peters in the first half.
The Eagles defense seemed shaken after the injury, as Chris Thompson skirted around several Eagles tacklers as a 29-yard touchdown pass put the Redskins ahead but Philly entered halftime with a 16-14 edge after a 50-yard field goal strike from Caleb Sturgis. They added three more on a second field goal in the third.
Other negatives include eight nasty penalties for 76 yards and a lack of production on the ground, with just 59 yards on 23 attempts. A mixed weekend for the Eagles, being 1-0 surely trumps the list of negatives — though they’ll surely be part of the storylines for the team as the season rolls on.