Eagles D Shows Up In Week 1

The Eagles first game is in the books and talk about flying out of the traps. We saw but a glimpse of the speed that Chip Kelly’s offense could operate at during the pre-season. The speed we saw in the opening half against the Redskins was bordering on insane.

Looking past the offense the biggest surprise of the night was the D. They needed to make some big plays, and did just that. The second half their form did slip in places but generally speaking it was a very impressive start on both sides of the ball.

Michael Vick had a pretty good game, not perfect, not bad. His numbers looked like this; 15/25, 203yds, 2TD’s, 0INT’s, 0Fmbl’s. Forgetting everything else that happened in the game how refreshing is it to see no turnovers committed by Vick last night? As for his play he made some great passes. The TD’s to DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek were perfect. In fact he made some great throws to Celek on a couple of occasions generally as he ran a streak over the middle.

He did have some moments where the Vick from 2011/12 returned. On one play where he was being dragged to the floor he tried to squeeze it out toRiley Cooper. The pass may have been in the right area, but the Skins DB wasn’t far off from being a plausible pick. What’s more Vick was basically horizontal as he threw it, would have preferred him taking the sack.

In the same vain he should have thrown away the ball later in the game instead of running it out of bounds for a sack and a loss of yards. Some, many are worried about his durability. I’ll be truthful I didn’t like it when he was grabbing his groin, hopefully that’ll pass. Every running play he went head first. Whilst this isn’t ideal for his durability the guy runs with such heart and passion, he wants those extra yards and I like that.

It was our first chance to see our Receivers without Jeremy Maclin. His loss wasn’t felt much last night. DeSean had a great game, got in DeAngelo Hall’sface and burnt him on some vital plays. 104 yards and a TD that capped off a great performance from a Receiver looking like he could be one of the best offensive weapons this year for the Eagles.

Jason Avant lost a silly fumble, but made up for it with a great stretching 1st down. Whilst the LB made a stupid decision going for a low tackle, it still takes nothing away from Avant. He also muffed then redeemed himself very quickly with that onside recovery. I thought he wasn’t going to get it, thank god he did.

The one name I didn’t think I’d ever mention on D was Cary Williams. He played a great game last night. He made a great play on the short sack againstRGIII and broke up a key pass play during the second half. Not forgetting his debut Interception too. Brandon Boykin had a nice game fighting to keep his guys eyes of the ball and Bradley Fletcher gave up little too.

My man love Mychal Kendricks was on fire too. 10 tackles I believe on the night along with his fumble recovered (forced by Trent Cole) and he hounded RGIII on inside blitzes. His acceleration is unreal, I knew he was quick but did he get quicker during the off-season as he was getting through in the blink of an eye. DeMeco Ryans wasn’t a push over either, 8 tackles on the night and a sack to boot. I don’t even remember a defensive play that didn’t feature either Kendricks or Ryans blitzing through the middle.

Brandon Graham and Trent Cole put in some nice performances too. I almost forgot the O-Line, they were generally good though had a few mis-cues. On one sack Lane Johnson seemed to let his guy through without so much as a touch on him. Another sack this time it was between Evan Mathis and again Johnson, I couldn’t tell whose fault it was at the time but could have done without that. Jason Peters I thought played a great game on the other hand. I didn’t like the penalty called against him, can’t really blame him too much on that one. Otherwise he still knows how to man-handle opposing Ends with imperative ease.

There were a few bad points, one that sticks out more than any other wasPatrick Chung’s poor play on the Redskins final TD. He should have made that play, he under-estimated the flight of the ball, not something you’d expect from a player like him. I can’t really be angry about the Redskins first TD, it was a bad call. If a ball starts at the 9 and is batted at the 9, how is that backwards?

Ultimately it’s the start we wanted, a win is a win. 1-0, Superbowl bound.

Our resident game day reviewer airs his views on the game;

Thoughts on the first game:

While everyone was blown away with the Eagles’ offence, I have to say towards the end of the game I was slightly concerned about the lack of innovative running plays. It became very predictable that Shady McCoy was going to get a shotgun had-off from Vick, with the Redskins prepared for that play. The one time we did get a big play was when Vick kept it himself and ran for 36 yards, although he seemed to injure his groin doing it, which probably didn’t help the resulting play calling. I had a feeling that Chip didn’t want to show too much more of his offence on a game he thought he’d won.

The D was a major surprise. I think in the 2nd half they looked a bit more like what we expected, a work in progress, but it was nice to see Trent Cole and Cary Williams step up in this game. I think we were fortunate to play RGIII in his first game back, as he was awful in the first half. Having said that our game plan was excellent, blitz up the middle to get pressure in his face and make him uncomfortable, as well as making him throw intermediate routes, which he didn’t really do at all last year.

Having criticised the offence, the first half and first series of the second half were FUN. The problem for the team could well be getting into big leads and trying to run out the clock. Without the no-huddle, other teams will be able to blitz Vick, which exploits his weakness of pre-snap recognition and likelihood of making a mistake under fire.

I remember thinking at one stage at 33-14, "in the write-up tomorrow I can remark about how much better we were with ball security and not turning it over". Promptly, Avant fumbled and changed the whole momentum of the game. This offence won’t work with turnovers and penalties, as defences get a breather if they occur. The Vick "fumble" was an unfortunate freak event which should not happen too often, although you can bet that other teams will try and do the same thing.

Finally, it was great to watch the Eagles coverage units making so many tackles behind the twenty yard line. They also came up big at the end to recover the onside kick. Part of our success in the first half was Jones pinning Washington back with good punts time and time again.

Overall, an encouraging first game, but there’s still work to do if this is going to be a playoff team.

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