10 September 2013

Color Me Shocked

Eagles 33, Redskins 27, Monday, September 9, 2013 

Going into the game, there was no reason to think the Eagles could win. Sure RGIII is coming off a major injury, but the Skins are the defending NFC East champions opening the season at home against a division rival that went 4-12 last year.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have a new head coach,  new offensive and defensive coordinators, a new special teams coach, a new offense, a new 3-4 defensive scheme (with players acquired during a 4-3 era), and a bunch of new players, particularly on defense. 

So no way the Eagles win this one, right?

Not exactly.

Stud of the week: there are PLENTY of candidates, believe me (or believe Bleeding Green Nation)
but I think I have to go with Mychal Kendricks, who was *so* all over the field it seemed like there might have been two of him. Or more.

All the talk on SportsCenter and the NFL Network today has been about how fast the Eagles were on offense (well,  that and Ndamukong Suh's $100K fine). How fast were they? They were so fast for the first 3 quarters that Jon Gruden didn't have time to run his mouth, for which we should all be grateful.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles slowed down. Too much. And Chip Kelly knows it, based on today's interviews. So that's reassuring. Everyone still has something to learn.

In the meantime, Shady McCoy nearly had a career night and looked like he was a player in Madden most of the night, leaving the Redskins defense chasing his shadow and scratching their heads.

DeSean Jackson had a great night too, with over 100 yards and a TD.

Michael Vick looked solid and may have finally found the right offensive scheme. Two things that worried me: him clutching his groin after that 36 yard fourth quarter scramble and the fact that more than once, he was blocking for McCoy or Bryce Brown, which is ballsy and honorable and all that good stuff, and scares the shit out of me.

The defense looked much better than they were in the pre-season, at least until they started giving too much cushion in the fourth quarter. But they've actually learned to tackle! And all that blitzing felt like a return to the JJ years. Also, Patrick Chung really should have picked that final Leonard Hankerson TD. Gotta work on that, buddy.

Excitingly, we also saw outstanding special teams play. Donnie Jones punted well, and in many cases, the ball was coming down close to the goal line and the Eagles had a player behind the Redskins player to prevent the touchback and force either a fair catch or a catch and run. And when a Skins punt returner did run, everyone else was there to stop him cold. We even had a "do it again" 48-yarder from Alex Henery on a night when usually reliable Kai Forbath missed from 40.

Ultimately, the Eagles benefited from the element of surprise - and blazing speed - on a night when RGIII was rusty. Teams, and defensive coordinators, will figure this out eventually. And RGIII got better by the quarter. But for now, a victory feels awfully sweet.

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