The Eagles' 2017 rookie class was out in force Monday night, and in a huge division showdown on national TV, Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins and Corey Clement helped the best team in football improve to 6-1.
Barnett recorded two sacks and Hollins and Clement both had dramatic touchdown catches in the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Redskins at the Linc (see observations).
Barnett, the first-round pick from Tennessee, became the first Eagle rookie with a two-sack game since Trent Cole in 2005. Hollins' 64-yard TD catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie in 11 years. And Clement's circus TD catch made him the first undrafted Eagles running back in 64 years with two TD catches in a season.
The Eagles have plenty of big-time veteran stars. But this rookie class is looking awfully good right now.
Factor in third-round corner Rasul Douglas, who has played well, and record-setting kicker Jake Elliott, and that's quite a rookie class.
"We just always have a big chip on our shoulder," said Clement, who went undrafted out of Wisconsin. "When we come out here, we are always overlooked by somebody just because we are rookies, but that doesn't mean we can't make a play.
"When we're out there, we try to think and play as veterans. When we walk out there with those guys, like (Brent) Celek and all those other veterans, we want to prove that we belong.
"I don't want anybody second-guessing why we're out there on the field."
Clement was on the receiving end of a miraculous Carson Wentz effort, where he seemed to be swallowed up by the Redskins’ pass rush before floating a TD pass to Clement on a scramble drill. Clement looked like a wide receiver, sticking both feet in the right side of the end zone (see breakdown).
The catch made Clement the first undrafted Eagles rookie running back with two TD catches in a season since Hal Giancanelli in 1953.
Clement had just two touchdown catches in college, but seven games into his NFL career, he's already matched that.
How did he get tagged with the reputation that he can't catch?
"I wish I could tell you," he said. "But everybody's going to say something about somebody. So it's whether you're going to back it up or complain about it, and I chose to back it up."
Hollins and Clement became the first pair of Eagles rookies with TD catches in the same game since Jason Avant and Hank Baskett against the Falcons in 2006. Hollins' 64-yard TD is the longest by an Eagles rookie since Baskett's 89-yarder in that same game.
Hollins, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, has been targeted six times this year and has six catches for 134 yards and five first downs.
And then there's Barnett, who had just half a sack in his first six games but broke through with two Monday against a Redskins team that had allowed only eight in its first six games.
Barnett became the first rookie with a two-sack game against the Redskins since Ziggy Ansah of the Lions in 2013.
"Everybody's been telling me just keep grinding and they're going to come," Barnett said. "They all just say keep working and eventually it's going to break. It was a fun night."
Barnett's 2½ sacks are the most by an Eagles rookie defensive end since Brandon Graham had three back in 2010.
"We have a lot of guys who've been playing in the league for a while, and they give me a lot of tips and stuff, and it helps me pick up my game," Barnett said. "I'm very lucky to have those guys in the room to help me."