10 observations from Eagles-Redskins

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10 observations from Eagles-Redskins

September 9, 2013, 11:00 pm
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Trent Cole had a forced fumble, a sack, a safety, two tackles for loss and four tackles in the Eagles' 33-27 win over the Redskins. (AP)

LANDOVER, Md. -- Ten random observations from the Eagles’ 33-27 win over the Redskins Monday night in Chip Kelly’s NFL debut at FedEx Field:

• Mychal Kendricks is the most improved guy on this defense. We saw it at practice, we saw it in the preseason games and we saw it Monday night. He looked comfortable dropping back, and he got tremendous pressure when he rushed. He’s 22 years old, and he’s already the best linebacker the Eagles have drafted since … Trott? Very encouraging start for Kendricks.

• Also extremely impressed with Trent Cole, who seemed to make more big plays Monday night than he made all last year. It’s a lot to ask a 30-year-old going into his ninth NFL season to change positions, but Cole has had a great attitude throughout the offseason about transitioning, and he was very active against the 'Skins, with a forced fumble, a sack, a safety, two tackles for loss and four tackles. Best he’s looked in a long time.

• The secondary still scares me. Cary Williams had a big game in his Eagles debut, and Brandon Boykin got the first-half interception, but once Robert Griffin III got into a rhythm and shook off the rust, he was able to pick apart the Eagles’ pass defense. He threw for 276 yards after halftime.

• One guy I’m a little concerned with is Todd Herremans. He didn’t play well at right tackle last year before he got hurt, and he didn’t have a particularly good game Monday night. The Eagles do not have a lot of O-line depth, thanks in part to the Danny Watkins disaster. That O-line is only as strong as its weakest link, and the Eagles need more consistency from Herremans.

• I can’t even imagine the numbers LeSean McCoy is going to put up in this offense. He seemed to get tired in the second half Monday night -- understandable on a hot, humid night when he played a ton of snaps and it was the first game of the season -- but 184 rushing yards (one shy of his career high) is a heck of a statement. No other running back in the NFL was within 75 yards of him in Week 1. The Redskins are pretty bad against the run, so we won’t go nuts here, but it’s scary how good Shady is.

• Can’t overlook how vastly improved Eagles special teams are. Dave Fipp is the Eagles’ fourth special teams coach in seven years, since John Harbaugh moved to D-backs after the 2006 season, and Fipp deserves a tremendous amount of credit for restoring order to a unit that’s been a disaster in recent years. Really, not a single breakdown Monday night. Very good start.

• Speaking of which … it was good to see Alex Henery nail a 48-yard field goal. He didn’t look particularly sharp during the preseason, but that was a big kick. Henery is now a ridiculous 16 for 17 in his career from 40 to 49 yards, but the 48-yarder matched the third-longest of his career.

• We heard throughout the preseason how Kelly’s offense would help DeSean Jackson revive his career. So far, so good. Jackson, running an assortment of underneath routes and very little deep stuff, caught the ball in space and made big plays with his legs. Jackson didn’t have a catch longer than 26 yards but still surpassed 100 yards for the 17th time in his career. The big plays will come. But Jackson looks now like a more complete player than he’s ever been.

• Gotta give it up for Williams, who backed up all the talk with some very good cornerback play in his first game with the Eagles (see story). Williams had a sack, an interception and two knockdowns, becoming the first Eagle cornerback with a sack and interception in the same game since Lito Sheppard against the 49ers in 2005.

• Keep this in mind when looking ahead: The Eagles outgained the Redskins 322-75 in the first half and outscored the Redskins 26-7. In the second half, the 'Skins outgained the Eagles 307-123 and outscored them 20-7. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett clearly figured a few things out after the Eagles scored 26 points in a 23½-minute span of the first half. Will be interesting to see how much the Chargers and the Eagles’ next few opponents can learn from the adjustments Haslett made.

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