OK, we’ve spent three days ripping the Eagles for blowing a 17-point lead against a bad football team on opening day, and we’ve all probably had enough.
They know what they did wrong. We know what they did wrong. We’ve examined over every single aspect of it.
So let’s try something completely different.
Sunday wasn’t a complete disaster, although it may have seemed like it at the time. But some genuine positives did come out of the Eagles’ loss in Washington, and we’re here to go over some of them.
1. Jalen Reagor: It was only one play, but seeing Jalen Reagor track and catch a 55-yard bomb from Carson Wentz in his first pro game – his first quarter – in the NFL was definitely encouraging. That was longer than any Eagles offensive play all last year, and once Wentz and Reagor really get familiar with each other there’ll be lots more where that came from.
2. No big plays: One of the Eagles’ biggest issues on defense last year was giving up big plays. They allowed an NFL-high 18 plays of 40 yards or more, plus another in the playoff loss to Seattle, and an NFL-high 11 touchdowns of at least 40 yards. On Sunday, Washington’s longest play was 24 yards and their longest pass play was 21 yards. In the second half, they didn’t have a 20-yard play.
3. Josh Sweat: With Derek Barnett out, the 3rd-year edge rusher got the most playing time of his career and was effective, with a 14-yard sack and forced fumble and two quarterback hurries. Sweat played 49 snaps – most of any Eagles defensive end and 18 more than he’s ever played before.
4. Linebackers: The Eagles’ young and inexperienced linebacker corps, led by Nate Gerry (69 of 70 snaps), Duke Riley (57 snaps) and T.J. Edwards (20 snaps), performed at a high level. Especially Gerry. They were solid in coverage, they tackled well and they were active against the run. Gerry in particular played well, with 10 tackles and two tackles for loss.
5. Darius Slay: It didn’t take long to see that Slay is no Nnamdi or Byron Maxwell. He blanketed Terry McLaurin when he was matched up against him and had no notable coverage lapses. Slay is really going to make a big difference on this defense.
6. Dallas Goedert: Goedert became the first Eagles tight end with a 100-yard game on opening day since Pete Retzlaff in 1962. He had a career-long 17-yard touchdown and also catches of 12, 16 and 23 yards. His previous career-high was 91 yards against the Cowboys at the Linc last December. Goedert was the only NFL tight end with a 100-yard game opening weekend.
7. Run defense: Washington ran the ball 36 times for only 80 yards. Of those 36 runs, a whopping 22 were for one yard or less. In the second half, Washington ran 21 times for 21 yards with a long run of five yards.
8. DeSean Jackson: He probably should have played more than 37 snaps, but Jackson looked fast and productive. He had catches of 19 and 27 yards, giving him 10,466 in his career (42nd-most in NFL history). Last year, there were only three instances of an Eagles receiver having two catches of at least 19 yards in the same game (Jackson against Washington, Alshon Jeffery against the Vikings and Dolphins).
9. Special teams: The punt cover team held Steven Sims to 3.4 yards on five punt returns, Cam Johnston had a 50.2 net and three punts inside the 20 and other than Jake Elliott’s 53-yard field goal miss – which coach Dave Fipp took the blame for – there were no noticeable breakdowns on special teams.
10. Davion Taylor, K’Von Wallace, Shaun Bradley: Without benefit of a single preseason, all three defensive rookies acquitted themselves well under difficult circumstances. Bradley played eight snaps on defense and 25 (of 33) on special teams, Wallace played six snaps on defense and 15 on special teams and Taylor played 14 special teams snaps. That’s 68 snaps from the three mid-round defensive rookies without benefit of a single preseason snap. Good start for all three.