Eagles

DeSean Jackson is back, massive 2nd half and more in Roob's observations from Eagles' NFL Week 1 win

DeSean Jackson is back, massive 2nd half and more in Roob's observations from Eagles' NFL Week 1 win

BOX SCORE

A brutal start, a brilliant finish, a flawless quarterback and some huge plays by the oldest guys on the team.

It wasn't exactly the start we all expected, but the bottom line is a 32-27 win for the Eagles over the Redskins and a 1-0 start for the fourth straight year.

Let's get right to our 10 instant observations! 

1. It wasn’t a matter of if. It was a matter of when. Carson to DeSean. They’ve talked about it all summer. We’ve seen it at practice. Now it’s a real thing, and oh man, is it beautiful.

It didn’t happen on the first snap of the game like we all kind of were looking for, but it happened eventually and then it happened again, and when nothing else was working, there was Carson Wentz chucking the ball deep to DeSean Jackson.

This was the first time since Norm Snead hit Ben Hawkins twice deep against the Redskins in 1967 that an Eagle QB and WR have connected on two 50-yard TDs in the same game. Incredible.

Oh yeah, and it was the first game they ever played together. Get used to it.

2. If the price of Wentz not playing at all in the preseason was a sluggish first few series, it was worth it. Wentz threw for 41 yards on the Eagles’ first three drives and honestly, he looked terrible. Out of sorts. Uncomfortable in the pocket. Couldn’t get anything down the field.

That first long TD to Jackson seemed to relax him and from that point on it was vintage Wentz. From the fifth drive on? Wentz was almost perfect.

3. How about Wentz on third down? He was 11 for 12 for 197 yards and three touchdowns. That is flat-out brilliant. And a perfect 158.3 third-down passer rating. 

4. One of the hallmarks of Jim Schwartz’s defenses since he’s been here has been his ability to adjust and overcome poor starts, and it sure did that Sunday. His group looked overmatched, ill-prepared and just brutal on Washington’s first few drives. The Redskins piled up 17 points and 208 yards on their first three drives and looked unstoppable. Their next six drives? Three points and 49 yards. By then the game was over.

What changed? Really it just seemed like the Eagles calmed down. It started up front, where they finally began to generate some pressure on Case Keenum, but they also began covering and tackling a lot better as well. They seemed to stop pressing and just settled down and made plays.  

5. Jordan Howard had only two carries the first 53 minutes of the game, and I get that Doug Pederson and Mike Groh wanted to get Miles Sanders going, but Howard had a couple nice-looking six-yard runs on back-to-back snaps early in the second quarter when nothing else was working. And that was it until seven minutes left, when he picked up 29 big yards on three straight runs.

Sanders had a couple nice runs and a 21-yard TD called back, but Howard looked fast and powerful. He finished 6 for 44, and he needs more than six carries.

6. I loved that Pederson fourth down call early in the third quarter. That’s the Doug Pederson we saw in 2017. The Eagles were down 20-7 with a 4th-and-1 on their own 34-yard line. That takes some serious guts. That’s the deepest the Eagles have been in their own territory going for it on fourth down in 10 years before the fourth quarter. You fail there, you’re down two touchdowns and the Redskins are already in field goal range with a ton of momentum.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the Eagles absolutely dominated the game after that. That call seemed to really spark both sides of the ball.

7. Even when nothing else was working, the Eagles’ run defense was very good all day. You know the Redskins wanted to run the ball to set up the pass, but the Eagles really shut that down. Derrius Guice was 10 for 18, Chris Thompson 3 for 10 and Adrian Peterson inactive for some reason. The 'Skins finished 13 for 28 rushing. In the second half? They were 3 for minus-3.

The defensive tackle rotation with Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan and Hassan Ridgeway was very good, and the Eagles gang tackled really well. That was huge because it prevented the Redskins from ever really doing what they wanted to do.

8. Jackson and Darren Sproles both made a huge impact on this game, and they’re two of the oldest at their position in the NFL, and both deserve a ton of credit for everything they do in the background as far as conditioning and taking care of themselves. You can’t come out in the NFL as a 32-year-old wide receiver in your 12th season or a 36-year-old running back in your 15th season and play like this if you’re not completely committed.

We’ve all seen older guys sticking around a year or two too long to cash a few extra paychecks. Sure not the case with these two guys. It’s incredible, but they look as good as ever.

9. Pederson said just last week that he focused on fixing the Eagles’ first quarter issues “every day” during the offseason. And then the Eagles come out so sluggish. The Eagles scored an NFL-low 41 first quarter points last year and led after the first quarter of only four games.

The obvious thing to look at is how little the starters played in the preseason, but this has been a problem since last year began. The Eagles can get away with it against bad teams, and they did on Sunday. But they can’t keep digging that kind of hole for themselves week after week after week. You just can’t get away with it against better teams.

10. It’s not easy to win this way. The Eagles were getting booed off the field when it was 17-0 and again when it was 20-7 at halftime. They were in danger of losing at home to a lightly regarded NFC East rival. The Eagles came into Sunday 11-127 in franchise history when they trailed by 13 points at halftime. They had come back from 17-point deficits only 16 times in franchise history, just three times in the last 25 years.

But they stuck together. That’s all you can do in that situation. You can’t look at the scoreboard, you can’t look at the clock. You stay positive, you keep believing, you don’t question the coaches and you just keep fighting. You do that, anything is possible.

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Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

On Friday, two days before Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19, several of his assistant coaches spoke about how effective they believe the Eagles’ safety protocols are inside the NovaCare Complex and how safe they consider the facility.

The Eagles, under the direction of vice president of football operations and compliance Jon Ferrari, reconfigured the South Philadelphia facility over the last several weeks to comply with NFL safety measures once the players arrived.

On Monday, the Eagles' so-called IDER plan – that stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan – was approved by the league, meaning the team's plan to deal with the virus in the facility met the safety standards required by the league and the players' association.

Yet here we are.

Without knowing how or where Pederson contracted the virus, it’s impossible to determine whether the safety measures are working. 

If nobody else in the building contracts it, they’re working. If it turns out there are additional positive tests within the building in the coming days, it’s possible that even the strictest adherence to the safety measures isn’t enough.

We’ll know more in the coming days, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, running backs coach and assistant head coach (and interim head coach) Duce Staley and special teams coach Dave Fipp all spoke on Friday about how effective the measures the Eagles took to create a safe working environment appeared to be.

Stoutland: “Coming through the front door, going through the gate, getting tested each morning, I gotta tell you guys, I’ve never felt more safe in my life. I told my wife that, I told my kids that. Mr. (Jeff) Lurie, he cares about his team, his coaches, and just proves it once again with the group of people that he’s put together to organize this whole operation. It’s all different, it’s all new, (team president) Don Smolenski, Jon Ferrari, it’s unbelievable. Every little detail that’s going on right now, the door handles, everything that I notice, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, they think of everything to keep us safe.’ That part of it is great I think for all of us because it kind of lets you (know), ‘OK, let me just focus on my job and detail what I have to do and the other stuff, we’re good. We’re going to be in good hands.’”

Staley: “We have to be careful, that’s something that all coaches are being redundant with. We’re talking with our players, we’re talking amongst ourselves. We’re all reminding each other how serious this is, reminding ourselves as coaches and reminding the players. This is a different time for us and as a team we must make the adjustments so we can be successful down the road. We must make the adjustments. I think the Eagles, this organization, Howie, Jeffery, along with Jon Ferrari, they’ve got a great plan here for us while we’re in the building, so we feel 100 percent safe in the building. Now, we understand everything going on, how it can be contracted, but we feel safe.”

Fipp: “I think common sense is the biggest thing. Gotta be smart, obviously. There’s definitely an issue going on out there. I think we feel good about it as long as we wear masks and take care of our responsibility outside the building. I feel great about being inside the building.”

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Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tests positive for COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tests positive for COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Pederson, 52, is asymptomatic and is feeling well at this time, the source said. 

ESPN’s Tim McManus first reported that Pederson informed his players on Sunday night after a second positive test. 

The Eagles later released the following statement: 

Most of the Eagles' meetings are still virtual and Pederson will be able to lead them. But assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley will handle any head coaching responsibilities in the building while Pederson is away, according to a source. Pederson will have to follow the NFL's protocols before returning to the NovaCare Complex. 

Pederson is the second known NFL head coach to test positive for COVID-19 after Saints’ head coach Sean Payton had it in March. 

Just last week, Pederson said he felt “extremely safe” inside the NovaCare Complex. 

“Obviously, coming into it there might have been some skepticism about the testing and the screenings that go on, but it’s very thorough,” Pederson said to reporters on a Zoom call last week. “When you’re here and you get tested in the morning, you’ve got a screening process that you have to go through to get into the building, wearing masks in the building, everywhere we go, I feel extremely safe.”

According to ESPN, it is believed Pederson contracted the coronavirus outside of the NovaCare Complex. ESPN also reported that QBs coach/pass game coordinator Press Taylor, who was in close contact with Pederson, was also sent home. He has tested negative but will follow protocol before returning. 

Last week, the Eagles placed three players — Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata and Nathan Gerry — on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Reserve/COVID-19 list is for players who either test positive or who have been exposed to someone who has. Johnson later announced that he tested positive. 

In addition to the three players put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Eagles also had one player opt out already. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin opted out of the season because of family reasons. 

After testing positive, Pederson will obviously miss some time at the facility. Pederson last Monday stressed the need for contingency plans, not just for players, but for coaches too. 

“We have to have a plan for everything as you know,” he said. “One of the things that we've been faced with, and I think we've done a really good job here is we've overcome some of the injuries we've had the last couple of seasons. We've coached that next guy, or that next player has been able to go in and perform at a high level, but now I think that has to carry over to the coaching staff as you mentioned.

“I think there has to be a plan in place for any coach or any staff member that may miss a couple days or a couple weeks because of the virus.

“So those are all things that are running through my mind. Again, we are in a different environment and we all have to do our part to protect ourselves, protect our players and our families and hopefully we minimize any setbacks.”

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