One of the pressing questions for the Eagles heading into this season was what if Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense goes three and out, and their defense had to go back right on the field after they just came off?
New question: what if the Birds’ opponent goes three and out on offense?
The answer is the game in all likelihood will get out of hand quickly.
The overriding theme the day after the Eagles shocked the world* with a 33-27 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night was football is fun again in Philadelphia. Michael Vick posted three scores – two through the air, one on the ground – LeSean McCoy’s 184 yards rushing were one yard shy of a career high and DeSean Jackson had seven receptions for 104 yards off of nine targets. The night was pretty much a best-case scenario for all of the team’s stars.
The final score even lends the appearance the game was closer than it actually was. A blown call by the officials essentially took seven points from the Eagles and gift-wrapped them for Washington, and Chip might have taken his foot off the gas pedal just a bit too early in the second half.
All’s well that ends well though, now let’s go over that parade route one more time…
Time to pump the brakes a bit on the city’s rekindled love affair with football. As good as the Eagles’ offense looked, as convincingly as the defense took care of business – both of them for the first 32 minutes at least – the Redskins did just as much to play themselves out of the game.
As expected, Washington’s franchise quarterback was not sharp after missing the entire preseason, only eight months removed from a torn ACL. Robert Griffin’s footwork was messed up, the timing with his receivers was off, he wasn’t accurate down the field, and he wasn’t a threat to run at all. And because RG3 couldn’t execute the offense in the first half, the Redskins became one dimensional, allowing the Birds’ defense to tee off on Alfred Morris.
By the time the first half concluded, Washington had managed three first downs, less than 10 minutes in time of possession, plus turned the ball over twice and taken a safety.
So while Philly’s offense proved beyond capable of racking up yards and scoring points in bunches, they also had plenty of opportunities. Not to take away from the job defensive coordinator Bill Davis did with the his unit, but that’s simply not going to happen every week.
This was what you would call a perfect storm. The Redskins clearly weren’t prepared for the onslaught Chip’s version of the three-headed monster was about to unleash, nor the speed at which it would attack. But it turns out the best defense might be an efficient offense, and they certainly didn’t have anything resembling that, either.
Teams that can control the ball and sustain drives are going to make the Eagles work a lot harder than what we saw on Monday. It’s more than the points that did or did not go up on the scoreboard – it’s keeping the ball away from Chip’s offense. It's field position. Not only that, Washington’s defense was continuously on the field practically non-stop until the game eventually got away from them.
Vick and co. are still going to get theirs this season, but it’s a lot easier to jump out to a (would-be) 40-0 lead when the opponent moves the ball about as well as Nichols St.
So what should we make of the Birds’ romp in our nation’s capital? If I had to guess right now, I’d venture Chip Kelly is going to be a successful NFL head coach. The speed at which his offense moves is the fastest the league has ever seen, and that alone is going to ground many a defense into submission.
But after watching the Redskins bumble their way through the first half of that game, I’m even more convinced Griffin wasn’t even close to ready for prime time, and that team will struggle until he shakes off the rust. Sorry to pour cold water on Chip’s epic debut, but there is no way it can be that easy.
* This author wasn't shocked