It was a tale of two halves Sunday as the Eagles had a comeback win against the Washington Redskins 32-27. Down 20-7 at halftime, the Birds stormed back in the second half and were outscoring the Redskins 25-0 until a garbage time touch down with just 6 seconds left in the game.
Questions regarding the chemistry between quarterback Carson Wentz and “new” receiver DeSean Jackson were answered in a big way, as the two connected often completing 8 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns. The first of which was arguably the most important of the game as it put the Eagles on the bird for the first time and it woke up the home crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. With the team trailing 17-0 Carson aired it out and delivered a perfectly thrown ball to his new weapon. Its safe to say that DeSean Jackson still has that elite speed as he once again burned his former team in the third quarter for a 53 yard strike that tied the game for a few seconds until Jake Elliot hit the PAT to give the Eagles their first lead of the day.
This game SCREAMED 2014 home opener. The team was facing a bad Jacksonville Jaguars team and fell behind 17-0 until eventually the offense woke up and rolled to a 34-17 win. It wasn’t pretty at times, and it was a lot closer than many of us expected, but at the end of the day this game ended like many of us expected; with an Eagles win. The Eagles will now look ahead to the Atlanta Falcons who will be in desperation mode after dropping their week one matchup 28-12 to the Vikings. They arent going to want to open up the season 0-2 and will be playing in front of their home crowd.
Carson Wentz. The QB went 28-39 for 313 yards, 3 touchdowns and no turnovers. It was almost 4 touchdowns but a late touchdown from Alshon Jeffery was scored as a lateral. Many have speculated how the former number two overall pick would handle the speed of NFL football not having played since last December but he was pretty flawless. His stats would’ve likely been more impressive had the defense been able to get off the field more in the first quarter….a quarter which saw Wentz only throw the ball 5 times. But Wentz spread the ball around, completing passes to 8 different receivers this game and did a good job of extending plays and not taking unnecessary hits.
The offensive line. For the most part the body issue boys kept Wentz upright and clean. There was one sack thrown in, but Wentz had the protection he needed for most of the game. When there were times where the offensive line broke down a bit Wentz was able to slide out of danger and find a receiver down field. Brandon Brooks did leave the game for rest, but other than that everyone stayed healthy and played like one of the best offensive lines in football.
DeSean Jackson. Welcome back DJax. Wentz obviously enjoyed his new toy and he went to DeSean early and often. Jackson’s elite level speed allowed him to keep the defense back, which led to a ton of underneath grabs. Keep in mind that hes doing all this with a broken finger. It also means Atlanta will be keying in on him next week, which should open things up for everyone else.
Darren Sproles. So much talk of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders but it was Darren Sproles who was your lead back on Sunday and he put in a strong performance. Sproles rushed the ball 9 times for 47 yards while grabbing 3 catches for 16. It was puzzling at times as to why the 36 year old was getting the ball so much, but his shiftiness came up large at times, including a 2 point conversion. I don’t necessarily expect Sproles to be the lead back every week, but he did well Sunday when his number was called.
The first half: What the hell was that? It took a bit for the offense to wake up but when they did, they balled out. The defense was very shaky early on, giving up a touchdown on the first drive of the game. But its not about how you start, its how you finish….
Running back rotation: I had Darren Sproles in my good, and he deserves to be there, but it was puzzling as to why Jordan Howard wasn’t involved more so in the offense. Subject of trade rumors this past week, head coach Doug Pederson had said hed be a big part of the offense….i guess he meant just not THIS week. Late in the game Howard was still stuck on 2 carries for 12 yards until his number was FINALLY called and he made the most of it finishing with 6 carries for 44 yards. Rookie Miles Sanders, who many think will be the Eagles lead back before long, finished with 11 carries and just 25 yards.
Jim Schwartz: Im not going to hide the fact that I don’t think Jim Schwartz is very good. And the Eagles defensive coordinator did nothing to change my opinion on Sunday. His idiotic philosophy to NOT send blitzes, and leave it all to the line to get pressure on their own, allowed Case Keenum to sit back and get comfortable as he picked the Eagles secondary apart. His defensive schemes allowed the Redskins to get so much cushion , that 3rd and longs became manageable. I got flashbacks to the Titans game last season with this ridiculous pick fence defense late in the game that unfortunately for gamblers, caused the Eagles to give up a late touchdown and gave Redskins bettors the win. But sports gambling aside, when your defense struggles to get pressure against a left side that features Donlad Penn and Erek Flowers, then it makes you wonder if a 3rd round pick and two backups are more valuable than say….Jadaveon Clowney. Now in fairness the defense woke up in the second half thanks to adjustments, but at the end of the day I think the offense is going to have to overcome Schwartz’ short comings as a coordinator.
- By Pat Egan, 97.5 The Fanatic producer, host and contributor