Chip Kelly’s offense certainly stole the show on Monday night.
Kelly’s offense was fast and efficient, and the Redskins were completely unprepared to defend it.
The element of surprise was with the Eagles in this game. Kelly had the Redskins completely off balance from the get-go. They moved the football at will, encountering very little defensive resistance along the way.
Kelly showed creativity and bravado throughout the night. On the team’s first possession, the head coach was faced with a 4th and 1 on the Washington 21. The first year head coach was not satisfied with the idea of settling for three, and opted to go for it with a successful four-yard running play.
Later in the first half, we got a taste of the unique formations that Kelly can bring to the table. The Eagles ran a play where Kelly split out offensive tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson wide and then handed the ball to LeSean McCoy for a nice gain.
Kelly leaned heavily on the running game, calling 49 runs to 25 passes. It was a run-pass ratio that would have been absolutely unheard of in the previous regime.
The offense ran 53 plays in the first half alone. They put up 26 points, and if not for the flukey backwards pass turnover, it could very easily have been a 33-0 game at the half.
The only thing more surprising than the dominant Eagles offense was how successful the Eagles’ defense was.
The heavily maligned unit did exactly what they needed to do to succeed. They were opportunistic, and took advantage of a rusty Robert Griffin.
The defense forced three turnovers, a safety, and didn’t allow a single point until late in the third quarter.
A performance like this is huge for this group. They were able to build up some confidence early, and then played with good intensity for the rest of the game. Instead of letting the Redskins push them around, they took the fight to Washington.
However, I think its important not to oversell what the defense did tonight. As a team, the Redskins were just bad tonight. And Robert Griffin clearly wasn’t 100%. The quarterback looked jittery and was ineffective throughout the night. He was overthrowing receivers, didn’t have explosiveness in his legs, and made some uncharacteristic mistakes. It was the first time that he had thrown multiple interceptions in a single game since high school.
Once the Eagles got off to their fast start, it forced Griffin to press even more than he already was, and the mistakes by running back Alfred Morris (who was responsible for a fumble and a safety) didn’t make things easier. The Redskins shot themselves in the foot repeatedly tonight, and to the Eagles’ credit, they took advantage of the situation.
As Griffin began to settle down later in the game, the Redskins’ offense had more success against the defense.
- Strong performance from Michael Vick to start the season. Vick thrived in his first start of the season, and did a good job facilitating Kelly’s offense. The quick, sharp decisions that we saw in the first two preseason games resurfaced tonight. He had a soft touch on his passes, and was explosive with his legs.
- Vick gave the Eagles the lead in the first quarter, finding DeSean Jackson on a 25-yard touchdown pass right immediately after the Eagles recovered an Alfred Morris fumble. Vick struck again by threading a beautiful pass to Brent Celek for a 28-yard score in the second quarter. The veteran also scored on a touchdown run to put the team up 26-7 at the end of the half.
- Vick even threw a nice block on a run from McCoy in the fourth quarter that led to an Eagles first down.
- LeSean McCoy was was spectacular, running the ball 18 times for over 100 yards in the first half alone. McCoy struck again in the second half with a 34-yard touchdown run. Kelly made him the focal point of the offense, something that Andy Reid refused to do, and McCoy responded with one of the strongest games of his career. He finished with 31 carries for 184 yards and a touchdown.
- DeSean Jackson was the focal point of the passing offense, catching seven passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Jackson got into several heated moments with Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
- The only issue that the team had offensively came in protection. The offensive line allowed Vick to take a number of hits, and gave up a handful of sacks.
- Uncharacteristic mistake by Jason Avant in the fourth quarter, fumbling away a ball that allowed Washington to have an opportunity to get back in the game. Avant atoned for his error with a key third-down reception that extended a drive that helped the Eagles work more time off of the clock.
- No sign of James Casey in this one. The newly signed tight end had been dealing with a hamstring injury, but he was active for tonight’s game, he just didn’t make any impact.
- Brandon Boykin had excellent coverage on Josh Morgan during his interception in the first quarter. Boykin broke up another pass in the fourth quarter.
- Cary Williams has been the cause of a lot of distractions, but he was able to back up his talk with a great game tonight. Williams had a beautiful interception on Griffin to start the second half that set up another Eagles touchdown that gave the team a 33-7 lead. The former Raven broke up a pass on fourth down in the fourth quarter that ended a drive when the Redskins were trying to make their comeback. He picked up a sack as well.
- Trent Cole had a strong game tonight, making several tackles and forcing a fumble on Alfred Morris on the first Washington offensive play.
- Mychal Kendricks was very active tonight, leading the team with 10 tackles.
- DeMeco Ryans picked up a sack on Griffin in the second half. Ryans was also in on eight stops.
- Clifton Geathers and Damian Square made several nice plays against the run.
- Vinny Curry was inactive tonight.
- Nice job by Alex Henery to make two consecutive 48-yard field goals in the first quarter. Henery made the first attempt, but it didn’t count as Kelly had thrown a flag to challenge the previous play. Henery came right back after the review and drilled his second attempt right down the middle to make it a 3-0 game.
- Chris Polk had a great special teams tackle to pin Washington deep in their own territory on a kickoff in the first half.
- I thought it was interesting that the Eagles opted to send DeSean Jackson back to return a couple of punts during the first half. I thought Damaris Johnson had shown enough in the preseason to keep the team from even thinking about going to Jackson. When Jackson was in the game, Washington punter (and former Eagle) Sav Rocca kicked the ball away from Jackson and out of bounds, setting up the Eagles with great field position.
To say that I’ve been skeptical of the direction that the Eagles’ franchise has been headed in since the Chip Kelly hire is putting it very mildly. I wanted Gus Bradley, and was disappointed with the Kelly hire. I was not at all happy with how the Eagles settled for Billy Davis as the defensive coordinator. And I didn’t agree with the decision to bring Michael Vick back for another season. I didn’t give the Eagles much of a chance to win tonight, but they proved me dead wrong.
That skepticism is still there, but I was very impressed with how the Eagles looked tonight.
It was the most fun that I’ve had watching an Eagles game since the 2010 season. Tonight the Eagles looked like a team that was hungry, and had something to prove. They were electric on and off of the field. It was refreshing to see a football team that was organized, efficient, and fast. Even more refreshing was to see Kelly animated and energetic on the sidelines after 14 years of Andy Reid’s emotionless, blank stare.
Overall, I’ve still got my doubts about the team. I feel that the defensive performance was more of a product of the Redskins being that bad rather than the defense being that good. I still don’t believe that Vick is built to last as this team’s quarterback. And certainly you have to wait and see if defenses will be able to catch up to this offense or not. But I came away from this game much more optimistic than ever about what Chip Kelly could possibly turn this team into several years from now. While my win outlook for the season remains low, the upcoming games promise to be as intriguing as ever.
Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter.