A Great Half

Posted: September 8th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

We waited forever for the 2019 season to begin and the opening half had us all wanting to go back to the preseason and a barrage of Clayton Thorson incompletions. At least those were harmless.

The Skins came to town ready for business and got up 17-0 on the sleepwalking Eagles. It was ugly. There were physical mistakes, mental mistakes and coaching mistakes. Other than that, things were great.

The Eagles came alive when Carson Wentz hit DeSean Jackson with a long TD pass and suddenly there was hope. That didn’t last long. Washington went into halftime up 20-7. Boos rained down from the stands, and rightfully so. That was one bad half of football.

Thankfully, football games are made up of a first half and a second half.

The Eagles went on a 25-0 run in the second half to take control of the game and set up another opening day win for Doug Pederson (now 4-0).

My biggest takeaway is that Carson Wentz is back. His numbers were great (28-39-313 with 3 TDs), but the eye test was even more impressive. He made good decisions. He made good pre-snap adjustments. Wentz threw the ball well downfield. He moved outside the pocket and bought time for his receivers to get open. Wentz was 3 for 3 on QB sneaks. I loved the fact that he spread the ball around so naturally. Wentz looked for the open guy. He trusted the design of the plays and his eyes. He wasn’t forcing the ball to anyone.

DeSean is going to be a difference-maker. When DBs make a mistake with him, it means a TD for the Eagles. The Eagles only had two TDs of 50 or more yards in all of 2018. DeSean had two of them in the opener. It is hard to quantify just how important those plays are.

The OL had a good game. Wentz was only sacked once. The run game was inconsistent, but Washington has a real good front seven. They can pressure the QB and stuff the run. The Eagles controlled the LOS in the second half and wore down that defense.

As for the Eagles defense, things are more complicated. They came alive in the second half and played much better, but they have a long way to go. The DL wasn’t getting nearly enough pressure and only finished with one sack (Tim Jernigan). The front seven did play the run well, limiting WAS to 28 yards on 13 carries.

The secondary had some issues. They gave up a 69-yard TD to rookie receiver Terry McLaurin. He was wide open for a long play in the second half, but the ball was overthrown. That would have been an easy TD. TE Vernon Davis put aside his walker and embarrassed the whole Eagles defense on the opening drive. A short pass turned into a 48-yard TD.

WAS was 5 for 8 on third downs in the first half. One of the weakest WR corps in the league moved the ball up and down the field. The second half was a different story, but Eagles DBs must play much better next week against the Falcons.

A lot of people thought the slow start was due to the Eagles doing so little in the preseason. Maybe, but not necessarily. Back in 2014 the Eagles were down 17-0 to the Jaguars in the opener. Big plays to WRs were the main problem. The Eagles came alive in the second half and won easily. And that was after playing everyone extensively in the preseason.

I don’t know what the problem was. Doug Pederson let his players know he wasn’t pleased with a halftime speech that got their attention. Thankfully they responded in the right way.

Pederson pushed the right buttons in this game. The Eagles went for it on two fourth downs and the one they converted in the third quarter kept alive a TD drive. That was a key moment in the game. Pederson went for two after going up 27-20. He wanted to get a two-possession lead, which he did after Darren Sproles fought his way into the end zone. Once the Eagles went up 29-20, you knew the game was over.

Speaking of Sproles, one of my few complaints is how much the Eagles fed him the ball. Sproles had 12 offensive touches. That is too many. He is still quick and elusive, but he leaves yards on the field. Get the ball to Miles Sanders who has young, fresh legs. Sanders was 11-25 today, but had an impressive TD run wiped out by a penalty. I was very impressed by Jordan Howard. He is going to be fun to watch this year.

I think you should feel good about the Eagles right now. They struggled early, but then dominated the game. WAS dominated the first half and that put them up 20-7. The Eagles dominant stretch was 25-0. See the difference there?

The only injury that I know of is DT Malik Jackson. He got hurt late in the game. Garbage time can be costly. That’s why it is so important to get teams off the field when you can.

The Eagles are 1-0. Their star QB looked great and the team is getting healthier. Life is good.

*****

Brutal news from Jacksonville.

Ugh. I really wanted to see what Nick could do with another team. He’ll be out for a couple of months, most likely.

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