The Eagles took flight and soared to a win over the Washington Redskins, but it wasn’t easy. The Birds entered halftime down 20-7 and came back to win 32-27 in a heroic comeback. So, what did we learn
DeSean Jackson is back and better than ever
Let’s start with the most important takeaway. DeSean Jackson looks just as dangerous as he did when he first suited up in midnight green. A pair of touchdowns and 154 yards on a team-leading 8 receptions saw #10 soar down the field with ease. The Pederson offense has craved a legitimate deep threat since its birth and now that Philly’s prodigal son has returned, you can already see the impact it’s had. Carson Wentz finally has a receiver who can take the top off a defense and it’s truly a thing of beauty.
Oh, and he did all that with a broken finger…in case you needed another reason to love DeSean Jackson.
Carson Wentz shakes off the rust and returns to his best
It took a little while and a Sam Bradford impression in the first quarter, but Carson Wentz looked like his 2017 self on Sunday. The 313 yard, 3 touchdown, 0 INT stat line is impressive, but his footwork in the pocket and ability to scan through his reads as opposed to locking on his primary over the middle is even more so. Wentz manipulated safeties well, extended plays when he had to, and more importantly, looked confident. He’s no longer nursing that torn ACL and Wentz was getting more and more dangerous as the game went off.
That second half though
We’ll get to the first half trainwreck in due course, but can we just talk about an 8 play, 104-yard drive that took 8:55 off the clock in order to put the game away? The Eagles wore the Redskins defense down and did so with assertion, converting on big third downs and keeping the drive live with great balance. Ruthless aggression out of the gate saw four consecutive touchdown drives. The Eagles shot themselves in the foot, surgically removed the bullet, got up and then basically re-enacted the entire ‘Die Hard’ series. Nice.
Let’s talk about the first half offensively…
While the game ended gloriously, it didn’t start that way…at all, as expected. The Eagles couldn’t get off the field defensively due to some questionable play-calls and if I have to see one more screen pass on third and long, I may cry. The offensive playcalling just seemed too conservative for too long and the idea to make Sproles the featured back went down well in the long-run, but having seen how efficient Jordan Howard could be later on, and how much the Eagles ran the ball to begin with, that entire premise is one we will address later.
On defense, there was definite rust from the starters. Missed tackles, blown assignments and the dreaded sticks defense all made appearances. Rasul Douglas got the nod at CB2 and was given no help over the top in what looked to be a breakdown of communication resulting in a huge touchdown. The run defense was as dominant as ever though, like really dominant. It just so happened to come at the expense of making Case Keenum look like Aaron Rodgers for two quarters.
Eagles have an unpredictable committee effort at running back
Miles Sanders led the Eagles in carries and had his first touchdown wiped off the board due to fellow second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside drawing a flag. But it was Darren Sproles who led the team in rushing yards, although Jordan Howard’s astonishing 7.3 yards per carry on just 6 attempts speaks volumes about his value. This wasn’t the shape that fans expected and I doubt it stays the same. Did someone say 2016 throwback to Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles? No? Well, that’s probably what we’re going to get: A matchup dependent rushing attack.
Zach Ertz felt like the odd man out for a while
It took a while for Zach Ertz to get going, but he somehow ended with 54-yards on 5 receptions. In the first half though he was borderline invisible and it seemed difficult to pinpoint whether this was due to planned target share, or just a failure to get open and Wentz taking what the defense gives him. The Pro Bowler set the record straight with an impressive second half, but expect to see more from both Ertz and Goedert as the season progresses given that Ertz has historically been quieter when facing Washington.
Brandon Brooks isn’t human
Brooks played three full quarters on Sunday, just months after an Achilles tear suffered in the playoff loss to New Orleans…and he played great. No preseason, no training camp. The. Man. Is. A. God.
RasulSZN may be upon us after all
Interestingly, Douglas drew the start at CB2 over Sidney Jones today and aside from a touchdown which was arguably a fault of a schematic breakdown, he played fairly solidly. The cornerbacks had a topsy-turvy game, but there’s progress to take and it’ll be worth keeping an eye on whether or not Douglas gains another start net week.
Timmy Jernigan will have a major role to play
We thought Jernigan may play like a man possessed but that was an understatement. Had it not been for a dodgy conversion one play later, Jernigan shoved the Redskins out of field goal territory at the end of the first half with a dominant sack. Unfortunately, his hard work is undone, but Jernigan looks close to his 2017 self.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports