Eagles 33 Redskins 27
I spent a good part of the winter mourning Andy Reid. While the Eagles had enjoyed the greatest period of success in franchise history during the tenure of the rotund one, ultimately that decade plus was frustrating and somewhat exhausting.
A bold move, I thought, hiring Chip Kelly. In the back of my mind, throughout the draft, OTAs, camp and preseason, the one thing I thought was “Please, don’t let this guy be another Steve Spurrier.”
The old excitement returned this weekend. By the time 5:00 rolled around yesterday at work, I was too excited to get anything done and thankful for a 6:55 kickoff against the Redskins.
To live in the DC area is to know that infuriating mixture of hype and cluelessness that pervades the fan base down here. All summer long the talk was about Robert Griffin III’s miraculous recovery from knee surgery. This season was going to be Adrian Peterson Redux, in which Bob Griffin (yes, I am eschewing whenever possible that haughty, regal sounding moniker) would return without missing a beat and lead the Redskins to the first of many many Super Bowls. The ten minutes or so I watched of ESPN’s pregame coverage was enough to make me glad I hadn’t seen it all. The part I did see was a vignette of Bob’s rehab in the offseason, including shots of him sitting in the whirlpool and a stomach churning scene in which a couple of his teammates looked adoringly on as RGIII completed a set of sit-ups. One couldn’t wonder if, as the camera turned away, the teammates carried the quarterback into the shower for a nice soap down.
I actually like Griffin. I don’t loath him the way I do, say, a Tony Romo or Jim Harbaugh. But after watching the way this guy has been hyped by the media and the fan base down here, I can’t really stand to hear about him anymore.
Which is why I found last night’s game so satisfying. We saw an introduction to Chip Kelly’s high octane offense while simultaneously watching the Skin’s anointed one flounder around helplessly.
The Eagles last night were both exhilarating and exhausting to watch. I felt like I’d sat through two games by the time the half rolled around. Vick, with protection, was almost perfect and LeSean McCoy looked like a player destined to put up a couple thousand yards worth of offense this season. My wife wondered if the Eagles can maintain that pace over the course of a season. That’s a valid question. The offense seemed to slow down quite a bit in the second half. Some of this was the Redskin’s defense finding their footing. But mostly it appeared as if Chip Kelly took his foot off the throttle. I lay in bed last night wondering why. Perhaps, in his debut, he didn’t want to be seen as running up the score, the way his teams at Oregon did. (Update: Kelly said in the game after presser that he went into clock chewing mode too early.)
The defense wasn’t the utter disaster many thought it would be, though it did start taking on water in the second half. I hope Chip Kelly learned a lesson from that. With this defense, until it’s properly fitted with the right personnel, no lead should be considered safe. Points and yards accumulate quickly in garbage time. An entire half of garbage time is too much, coach.
Shanny and company did not pick on him last night, so we don’t know how Trent Cole will do in coverage. But last night he did a serviceable job as an OLB in the 3-4 defense. Cary Williams was outstanding. I thought the Eagles front would be the best part of the defense and I was right. Alfred Morris had a horrible night.
One always overlooked aspect of these games..special teams. No spectacular returns, just great kick coverage that allowed the Eagles to pin the Redskins deep in their own territory. When dropping punts inside the ten yard line, Eagles punter Donnie Jones was booming them 60 +.
The score last night was a lot closer than it needed to be. Throughout the second half I couldn’t help but think of Andy Reid’s debut, in which the team blew a 21 point lead against Jake Plummer’s Cardinals. In the first quarter, though, I remarked that even if this team didn’t win a game all year, they’d be fun to watch. Not counting chickens..but with San Diego and Kansas City coming up, this team just might be the big surprise at the quarter pole.