Instant analysis: Eagles fight through an ugly storm to defeat Washington in season opener

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It wasn’t pretty. It was never going to be. The Eagles finally ended a five-game losing streak to the Redskins in a 30-17 victory at FedEx field on Sunday. The team still have plenty of questions after such a challenging game, but we certainly have some answers as well.

 

Wentz is improving:
The most immediate takeaway is that Carson Wentz is improving. The second-year quarterback completed 26/39 passes in the win, throwing for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the process. A tipped interception added some cloud to a performance that still contained overthrows and missed deep shots, but the progress Wentz has made from a pocket presence standpoint, a decision-making standpoint and consistency is just astounding.

Alshon Jeffery was lined up against Josh Norman all game and instead of pumping traffic into a congested lane, the quarterback was composed and spread the ball around, with eight different receivers making a catch. Big. Strides.

 

Pederson’s play-calling:
There were only so many screen passes on third and long that could be called before those same questions that hung heavy over Pederson last year re-arose. The Offense was still unbalanced. The rushing attack struggled. But Pederson, after a week of heavy criticism came into week one on the road in which he was 1-7 last year, against a divisional opponent and led his team to an opening day victory. Pederson wasn’t perfect, but he was competent enough to ignite the offense at the right times and allow Wentz to sling it downfield, something that was nearly invisible last year.

 

All three cores:
Whether it was Nelson Agholor’s touchdown reception, A FLETCHER COX TOUCHDOWN, or Jaylen Watkins forcing a punt down inside the one-yard line, all three phases of the Eagles contributed to the victory. In preseason, that wasn’t the case as far as starters were concerned. It was a good day for all three phases of the Eagles.

 

What happens next?
The Eagles Defense held strong in the first half…until their star cornerback Ronald Darby fell injured. After that, the entire Secondary stood on the edge of a knife. Back and forth the Redskins paced and yet they were never able to force their way in for the score. Bend, but don’t break. The Eagles held strong and Jalen Mills showed just how much he’s improved since his rookie season, but how the Eagles deal with the loss of Darby in the coming weeks will be a question that demands a very serious answer.

 

Defense stands tough:
The Redskins dominated the third quarter. A drive that never seemed to end was followed by more pressure upon more pressure. Sure, Chris Long may have missed a tackle, but the Eagles pass rush ATE on Sunday. From forced fumbles and four sacks, to the sheer pressure on Cousins to throw under duress, for me the defining moment was the Jalen Mills pick. The Green Goblin should absolutely hold his head high, but Malcolm Jenkins appeared to call his own stunt as Jim Schwartz threw the kitchen sink at the Redskins, completely overwhelming Cousins and forcing the bad pass.

Cousins completed just over 50% of his passes in a matchup he has previously flourished in. The Eagles pass-rush won the day, and Jim Schwartz continues to assert his presence all over Philadelphia.

 

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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