The dawning of a new era in Philadelphia got off to a good start just down I-95 in our nation’s capital.
New head coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles took a 33-27 win over the Redskins as they started the season in promising fashion. The one small caveat: Mike Vick was seen limping and favoring his groin in the fourth quarter.
We take a look at three things that went right for the Eagles:
1. New offense
Chip Kelly’s offense certainly didn’t disappoint in its national debut. The coach who is known for being unconventional was very unconventional. He ran 30 plays in the first quarter — the most for any NFL team since 2009. He stacked receivers behind receivers. He split offensive tackles out wide and kept just three guys on the line. He let Mike Vick loose on the read option. The Redskins looked dazed and confused all night. Kelly even went for a fourth down on the opening drive and got it.
2. Mixed up
The Eagles defense gets mixed reviews in the opener. The unit started strong by forcing two quick turnovers and a safety. The team had just 13 turnovers in 2012 — dead last in NFL — so they are ahead of the game already. Brandon Boykin got an interception. Trent Cole forced a fumble and collected a safety, while being a disruptive force all night. Cary Williams rushed on a cornerback blitz and recorded a sack. Williams added a pick in the second half and broke up a pass play when Washington was trying to complete an improbable comeback late in the fourth quarter. That was the good. The Eagles defense looked overmatched in the second half. Robert Griffin III picked on Boykin and rookie corner Jordan Poyer pretty much at will as the defense let a 27-point lead evaporate. This unit is very much a work in progress.
3. Pick up the pace
The pace of the game was blistering, just as was advertised. The Eagles ran a play in 28 seconds on average. Eagles scoring drives averaged one minute and 44 seconds. The Redskins defense couldn’t keep up, and they looked absolutely gassed at halftime. Several defensive players came up lame, clutching hamstrings and sitting out with muscle cramps. Even the Eagles players were getting tired. At one point, LeSean McCoy was seen trying to catch his breath on the sideline after a 10-yard gain. Defensive coordinators around the NFL are going to have to adjust — and fast.