Where to begin with this one? The Eagles looked like a well-oiled machine in head coach Chip Kelly’s debut and Robert Griffin III struggled early, but found himself in his return. The Eagles proved some critics wrong and were fundamentally sound in a 33-27 victory over the Redskins Monday night. OK, let’s get into what we know after the game:
Mr. Kelly could be on to something with this whole blur offense
Kelly had a dilemma when deciding to ditch Eugene, Ore. for the bright lights of the NFL. Leave a known commodity and a proven winner that pumps out first-round talent into the NFL Draft or take his outside-the-box philosophies into the league. You know the story, but Kelly’s immediate success in the league is remarkable.
The first-year head coach took the reins of a 4-12 team, staged a well-publicized QB competition during the preseason, hired a new staff, instilled a new mentality and from top to bottom has developed a product that has the look of an immediate playoff contender. Too soon?
Kelly stresses tempo and maximizing opportunities on offense and the Eagles moved a rapid pace, running 75 plays from the line of scrimmage, including a whopping 53 in the first half. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett didn’t have any answers and Michael Vick operated with precision.
RG3 has rocky start, but redeems himself … well, kinda
Griffin made his return to FedEX Field for the first time since shredding his ACL in the NFC divisional round against the Seattle Seahawks and he did not look good early. In fact, it was ugly. So ugly that the Redskins didn’t get into Eagles’ territory until the third quarter. Griffin rushed a few of his throws and lacked a certain oomph on his fastball.
But the second-year quarterback stared adversity in the eye and would finish by completing 30 of 49 passes for 329 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. It wasn’t enough to claw back for the win, but his second-half performance was admirable.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan didn’t call many zone read-option plays, but the ‘Skins still utilized the very trendy pistol formation.
Oh yeah, more about that offense …
People were uncertain how Kelly’s offense would translate into the NFL. Well, it looks like it’ll be just fine.
For the most part, Vick was sharp. His threat as a runner isn’t something Kelly took advantage of, but the Redskins still had to respect him. Vick finished the evening with 3 touchdowns. LeSean McCoy was the forgotten man this offseason, but ran for 184 yards on 31 carries and a TD. McCoy was slicing and dicing to move the chains and get into the end zone.
Kelly’s greatest asset is exposing mismatches and getting the ball into his playmakers’ hands. He did that. DeSean Jackson even made a splash, hauling in a 25-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
What about the Eagles defense? They were rock solid
Don’t let the box score fool you, the Eagles were much more dominant than the final score suggests. A lot of that has to do with the defense. Bill Davis, the team’s new coordinator, brought plenty of pressure and consistently confused Griffin.
A Jason Avant-fumble in the third quarter would allow the Redskins to narrow the lead, but Philly’s D solidified when it mattered most.
More about that Eagles offense. You probably heard about this play
The Eagles were quite possibly moving too fast for their own good in the first quarter. Vick was threatening inside the Redskins’ 10-yard line and was attempting to hit McCoy on a flare in the flats. One problem: the pass was batted down, sailed behind the line of scrimmage and became a live ball. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall would scoop and score for a quick 6.