So….that was fun. Rather than do my typical post-game review, I’m just going to mention a few player-specific notes and address a larger points. I’ll have more detailed comments later this week after the All-22 tape is available. I’ll start with the larger point.
How nervous were you during the second half?
My guess is very. Put simply, the game ended up feeling closer than it should have. The “momentum” clearly shifted in the second half (meaning the Redskins played better than the Eagles then). However, the game was really never in doubt after the initial offensive explosion. Here is the Win Probability chart from AdvancedNFLStats.com (if you follow me on twitter you saw a version of this last night).
First, let me plug AdvancedNFLStats.com. The site has live graphs like this for every game each week. If you usually watch with a computer in front of you, add this to your game-watching experience. Above, I’ve highlighted the point in the 2nd half at which the Eagles Win Probability was lowest. If you look closely, you can see that according to this site (which I tend to believe), the Eagles still had a 90% chance of victory. Were you that confident?
The reason I highlight this is because it helps to contextualize just how big the Eagles lead was (and how well the team played early on). It also helps to counter the “momentum” story that is so easily derived from a game like that. It felt close and looked ugly, but after halftime, the result was really never in doubt.
The Eagles probably went to a prevent-light defense too early (I’ll check on the film). That allowed the Redskins to score a few times and make the final score competitive. Overall, though, this wasn’t really a contest. Bottom line: The Eagles went on the road and demolished the defending division champion.
– Vick missed a number of wide-open receivers. Tough to dwell on it too much, but in a closer game those plays will matter. He needs to be better.
– The O-Line was all over the place performance-wise. That, as I explained before the game, needs to change. The O-Line needs to be a consistent strength of the team. I’ll get a better idea after review, but it looked ilk Herremans and Johnson in particular had some isues.
– Trent Cole had a great game. I have to check to see if his big plays came out of a 4-3 alignment or not, but regardless, that was a much better performance than anyone was projecting. If he can again be a disruptive pass rusher, the whole defense will look a lot better.
– Didn’t see much from Sopoaga, but that could be a good thing. The Eagles handled the rushing attack surprisingly well, and Spooky is hardly being counted on as a pass rusher. Note that he actually played fewer snaps (1 less I believe) than Bennie Logan, so we might actually be seeing a big early depth chart move here.
– The Eagles CBs looked competent, in some cases even good. Cary Williams had a spectacular interception, as well as a sack. That’s the type of impact you expect from a “true” #1 CB, which nobody really believes Williams can be. For one game at least, he was close. Until I review the tape, I’m giving the 2nd half defense a bit of a pass. It looked like the DBs were playing back, meaning they weren’t really trying to break up the passes. It’s possible the D just fell apart as the Redskins offense (i.e. Griffin) warmed up, but I think the score and situation had a lot to do with it.
– Special teams looked GREAT. We’ve discussed how just getting average STs play would be a huge help. It looks like the Eagles will get that and more. Frankly, I don’t remember a better all-around game from the Eagles on STs. Damaris had just one kick return, but it was for 27 yards. Alex Henery hit just one field goal, but it was from 48 yards (though he kicked it twice). Donnie Jones had 4 punts downed within the 20 yard line, including 2 within the 10 yard line and one the was Fair Catched at the 11 yard line. He also had just 1 touchback.
I’ve been harping about field position a lot, so it was nice to get such a clear example of its importance in the first game. Defense is a lot easier to play when the other team has to go 90 yards for a TD. Overall, Washington started just 2 drives beyond its own 20 yard line, and one of those began at the 21. The Eagles had 8 such drives, ignoring the final one (note some of those were the result of TOs, not STs).
Finally, it’s been brought to my attention that FO has now raised it’s Win projection for the Eagles to 9 games, bringing it exactly in line with my own…better late than never I guess.
Much more later this week. For now, enjoy the best game the Eagles have played in a long time and help yourselves to another round of the Chip Kool Aid.