The Eagles head back to Philadelphia with a very important victory over the Washington Redskins. Carson Wentz and the Eagles bucked a five-game losing streak against their divisional rivals, battling through plenty of adversity in the process. But who shined the brightest in yesterday’s rollercoaster?
Carson Wentz was simply excellent yesterday. Sure, he had some passes sail on him and an unfortunate pick six, but Wentz completed 26/39 passes for 307 yards along with two scores. A non existent run game and a complete momentum shift on Defense certainly stacked the odds against the franchise quarterback, but Wentz carried the team through some tough moments and times where risky play-calls didn’t pay off. If you wanted a sign of just how far Wentz has come since this time one year ago, the win over Redskins was just that.
Two words. Non-existent. LeGarrette Blount ended his day with 46 yards on 14 carries and a receiving touchdown. It was his quietest game since the Patriots late-season win over Denver last year and only the third time since the start of 2016 that he’s rushed for less than 50-yards. proles and Smallwood rushing four times each for a combined total of ten yards. Whether it was down to the offensive line, some poor balancing of the offense or a simple lack of production, the running backs were anything but efficient on Sunday.
Jason Peters left the game with a groin injury and Halapoulivaati Vaitai was forced to relive the horrors of his NFL debut just under one-year ago. The Eagles O-Line allowed 9 hits on Carson Wentz, but only two sacks. As far as the run game is concerned, the blocking was atrocious at times. For one of the league’s youngest and most athletic lines, the Redskins front four did more than handle their end of things when it came to stopping the run. It’s too early to worry, but the lack of tackle depth could be a concern. The lack of run-blocking however is what requires immediate attention.
It was usual business for Zach Ertz yesterday as he led the team in receiving yards, catching all 8 targets thrown his way for 93-yards. Ertz was again public enemy number one for the Redskins as he has been nearly every time he’s faced them. Trey Burton received some outside looks before coming up huge on special teams, and BRENT CELEK WAS ACTIVE IN THE PASSING GAME. The trio were nearly perfect in every aspect of the game.
Whether it was Agholor’s breakout, Torrey Smith’s blistering speed or the danger that Alshon Jeffery bought to the table, forcing the Redskins Defense into some tricky situations and even though he wasn’t targeted as often as a number one wideout usually is, his presence completely reshaped the Offense and allowed Carson Wentz to connect with eight different options throughout the game. The game wasn’t perfect, a few drops here and there still shadowed a productive day and Alshon’s inability to come down with a play that only a superstar would make has caused some ridiculous backlash….but all in all, it was a sign of things to come.
The pass rush simply dominated the Redskins offensive front in the opening two quarters, but the loss of Darby and a 4-minute drive knocked the wind out of the sails. The unit bounced back remarkably well however, Fletcher Cox s c o r e d a touchdown and Timmy Jerngian was easily one of the most underrated players of the afternoon. Brandon Graham continued his spike in production with a pair of sacks and the blitzing was so intimidating that it forced that memorable Jalen Mills pick. Chris Long missed a tackle, but the unit is in no position to complain.
Seven tackles for Jordan Hicks and a near interception for Nigel Bradham sum up the game perfectly. The Eagles starting duo performed just as expected, impressively. Hicks was inches away from yet more ball-hawk like plays and Bradham’s heavy hitting was felt everywhere. Talking of heavy hitting, let’s not forget Mychal Kendricks becoming a Human block of concrete and stopping a 233 lbs, running back dead in his tracks.
The Eagles cornerback tandem took a heavy blow when they lost Ronald Darby to a serious Ankle injury. With three active corners on the roster, the Redskins were simply licking their lips after Pryor came just short of two scores after misfires from Kirk Cousins. Bend and don’t break was the mentality for the Eagles, and it worked. Mills allowed ten completions on fifteen targets but never allowed a play behind him and led the team in tackles. Patrick Robinson bounced outside and held his own, earning the fifth highest PFF grade on the team, and Jaylen Watkins was extremely valuable as the versatile Safety dropping down to help.
Malcolm Jenkins became the heart of the Defense once again and was a crucial cog in the Mills interception, blitzing Cousins and getting right in his face. More impressively, Jenkins kept Jordan Reed quiet in a slot matchup, as he received for just 36-yards. Rodney McLeod has a very underrated game, wrapping up everything that came his way. We’ve already spoken about the value of Jaylen Watkins and other than a Corey Graham muff, the unit was outstanding.
Whether it was downing a punt inside the one yard line or picking up a special teams fumble, Fipp’s unit was prolific once again. Caleb Sturgis connected with multiple 40+ yard kicks for the first time since November last year, despite an early missed extra point.