Eagles vs Redskins Breakdown: MythBusters Edition

It wasn’t perfect, but the Eagles shook off the rust and dominated the Redskins to bring home their first win of the season. Every week, I’ll be presenting the top storylines from my observations from each game. Here are my top storylines and impressions from the Eagles week one victory versus the Washington Redskins in a MythBusters format.  

Eagles fans should be concerned about 0 first quarter points versus the Washington Redskins.

The Philadelphia Eagles came out incredibly flat on offense and defense. Whether you believe in the preseason or not, the Eagles’ first half performance was very much expected. The Eagles were the 2nd worst team in the first quarter in 2018. Even further, Carson Wentz had the lowest number of touchdowns and more interceptions in the first quarter than any other quarter in 2018.

Different season, same first quarter. The Redskins had 115 more total yards than the Eagles at the end of the first quarter along with a 10-0 lead. The Eagles very much looked lost on both sides of the ball. On defense, they were unable to stop the run or get any kind of pressure versus Case Keenum. The Redskins were leading time of possession, and Zach Ertz was non-existent. It was nearly as bad as it could get.

The Eagles began to click in the second quarter, featuring a 12 play drive that ended with a turnover on downs and some questionable play calls. Jordan Howard was barely on the field. Darren Sproles led the team with 5 touches, while Miles Sanders had 4 in the backfield. For a team that ran more 12 personnel than any other team in the NFL in 2018, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert each had only one touch on offense. Other than a 51 yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, the Eagles could not get much of anything going and found themselves down 20-7 at halftime. This was not Eagles football.

Should we be worried about the lack of offense in the first quarter? The Eagles outscored the Redskins 32-3 after trailing 17-0 (289 to 30 in total yards). I’m not going to overreact to yesterday’s first quarter woes. The way the offense came together in the second half was very promising. The timing between Desean Jackson and Carson Wentz was evident. The defensive line began to get pressure. The offensive line was getting to the next level. Overall, the offense flashed enough flashes to convince me that the Eagles are very close to returning to their 2017 form when they were 2nd in the NFL in first quarter points.

Verdict: MYTH

Carson Wentz has shown enough in one game that he is back to his 2017 MVP form.

What an incredible game for Carson Wentz. Most importantly, leading the Eagles on a 19 play drive that lasted nearly 9 minutes in the 4th quarter needs to be mentioned. It only ended with a field goal, but there were only three 19-play drives in the entire league last season. Carson Wentz led an Eagles offense that controlled the line of scrimmage. It was utter domination in the second half.

Carson Wentz finished the game 28/39 for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns. A fourth touchdown to Alshon Jeffery was technically credited as a run. Carson Wentz’s two 50 yard touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson both came on third down. In fact, the Eagles finished the game 11-17 on third down (65%), which was the best of any team in the NFL on Sunday. It’s a small sample size, but this is a very promising sign for the Eagles offense. The Eagles were 2nd best in the NFL in third down conversion in 2017 (44.67%).

Is Carson Wentz back to his MVP form? For me, it’s a definitive YES. Here are my top three favorite plays from Carson Wentz versus the Washington Redskins.

The way Carson Wentz weaved in and out of pressure, got the edge, and threw into tight windows for completions was very reminiscent of what we saw in the past. Including myself, many Eagles fans still questioned who Carson Wentz really is as an NFL quarterback. He answered those questions and then some on Sunday.

Verdict: FACT

DeSean Jackson is slowing down at 32 years old.

DeSean Jackson led the team with 8 receptions, 154 yards, and two touchdowns on Sunday. Jackson seemingly got whatever he wanted versus the Washington Redskins secondary. Most importantly, DeSean was a huge voice in the locker room on Sunday when the Eagles found themselves down 20-7. Jackson was one of the main sources of motivation for the Eagles at halftime. The amount of maturity and growth we’ve seen from DeSean Jackson should be noted.  Here are the best plays between Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson versus the Washington Redskins.

As long as he stays healthy, the numbers DeSean Jackson could put up in 2019 could be staggering. Carson Wentz has never had a receiver that possesses the ability to take the top off the defense like Jackson, and it immediately showed during week one. I expected DeSean to be a huge variable on offense, but I never expected him to lead the Eagles in targets (10). Initial impressions tell us that 2019 is about to become the Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson show. Get your popcorn ready.

Verdict: MYTH

Miles Sanders had more touches than Jordan Howard and has already claimed the starting running back position.

Heading into week one, one of the biggest storylines of the team revolved around the running back position. For me, it was only a matter of when in terms of Miles Sanders becoming the starting running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. Week one started with a bang, as Jordan Howard (the perceived #1 running back) had less touches than Miles Sanders in the first half. Sanders led the backfield, playing 48% of the snaps on offense. Darren Sproles finished second at 31%, while Jordan Howard played 23%.

Miles Sanders finished the game with 11 carries and 25 yards. A huge 21-yard run in the 4th quarter was nullified after a holding call by JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Whether you think the call by the referee was valid or not (it was a terrible call), I was very impressed by Miles Sanders on Sunday. I think we’ll see Sanders more and more involved in the offense, especially as a receiver, as the season progresses. Here are Miles Sanders’ best plays during his debut with the Philadelphia Eagles.

We all know Miles Sanders has excellent burst and the ability to make defenders miss. It is very LeSean McCoy-esque. What was most promising on Sunday was Sanders’ ability to pick up the blitz. Here are some clips of Miles Sanders recognizing and picking up the blitz effectively versus the Washington Redskins.

It’s only one game, therefore I’m not convinced Miles Sanders is the clear cut running back that will lead the Eagles in carries moving forward. From first glance, it appears that Sanders and Sproles will handle the bulk of the load in the first half while Jordan “The Closer” Howard finishes the game in the second. I expect touches for the Eagles’ backfield to go on a week-to-week basis. What’s my official stance?

Verdict: MYTH

Brandon Brooks is 100% back, and the offensive line is one of the best in the NFL.

Just a phenomenal performance by Brandon Brooks and the offensive line. The fact that Brandon Brooks, who suffered an Achilles injury not too long ago, played 73% of the snaps during week one still blows my mind. The o-line completely manhandled the Redskins’ defensive line. Redskins’ star defensive end Ryan Kerrigan was basically nonexistent, finishing with just one tackle. Anyone remember the game from a few years ago when Ryan Kerrigan abused Halapoulivaati Vaitai for 2.5 sacks? I don’t remember a single time I heard Ryan Kerrigan’s name on Sunday, which is a major compliment to the Eagles’ offensive line.

The Eagles only had 6 penalties on Sunday for 55 yards. Considering this was their first time playing on the field together, I can’t give enough compliments to the offensive line. The Eagles ended up winning the time of possession battle 34:27 to 25:33 and looked even more dominant in a 4th quarter, 19 play, 9 minute drive. I admit I was skeptical about Brandon Brooks starting on Sunday, and I couldn’t be happier to be dead wrong. Even better, first round pick Andre Dillard was seen on the field filling in as an extra blocker and tight end. As long as health is on our side, the Eagles offensive line is undoubtedly one of the best in the NFL.

Verdict: FACT

Derek Barnett is ready to take that next step in his development and become a leader on the defensive line.

Another one of the biggest question marks was Derek Barnett. Barnett, who did not play during the preseason, came into 2019 with huge expectations. While it was a quiet first quarter, Derek began to get pressure during the second quarter. Barnett led the Eagles defensive line with 4 tackles and three quarterback hits. Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry were not able to get to the quarterback on Sunday. Derek Barnett also led the defensive line on the field, playing 82% of the snaps (Brandon Graham was second, playing 72% of the snaps).

Barnett has always been an impact defensive end in the NFL. No doubt. If Barnett is able to stay healthy, everything points to him becoming a Pro Bowl type defensive end in 2019 finishing with approximately 9-10 sacks and being stout against the run. I fully expect Barnett to become a household name in 2019.

Verdict: FACT

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