By Kevin McGuire
What a rush! The Philadelphia Eagles unveiled their new-look offense in a game that actually mattered and they made the most of it in a season opening victory against the rival Washington Redskins. The Eagles were in full command in the first half and held on for a victory Monday night to give everyone watching a sense of optimism. But before you go making reservations for the Super Bowl, keep in mind there is plenty of football to be played and teams will work furiously to adjust to what the Eagles showed off in the season opener.
But what a breath of fresh air it was.
Other than the opening drive miscue inside the red zone, Mike Vick’s first game of the 2013 season was largely a success. Vick completed 15 out of 25 pass attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and he added 54 rushing yards and a touchdown with his legs. Vick’s backwards pass was tipped on the opening drive and returned by the Redskins for the opening score, but Vick showed good poise in leading the offense right down field on the ensuing possession as the Eagles offense was dominant in the first half Monday night. Though things slowed down in the second half, Vick’s performance in the first half in Chip Kelly’s offense was an inspiring one. Grade: B+
The first half was a thing of beauty for the entire Philadelphia Eagles offense. The Eagles scored 26 first-half points and were a bizarre red zone turnover away from what could have been a commanding 33-0 lead at halftime. The up-tempo offense worked like Oregon was taking on Virginia in the first half, but struggled to keep the foot on the gas in the second half. The Eagles ended up running 77 plays for 443 yards, including 263 rushing yards. LeSean McCoy carried the football 31 times for 184 yards and a touchdown and DeSean Jackson recorded 100 receiving yards. The second half was a different story, but the debut of the offense was very impressive. Grade: A-
We knew the offense was going to be fun to watch, but the play of the defense was an added bonus in the first half. On the first three possessions for the Redskins, the Eagles defense recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass and came up with a safety. Last season the Eagles defense was among the worst in recording turnovers, so the start against the Redskins was surprising. The Eagles ended the game with three total turnovers and held the Redskins to just two third down conversions out of 10, proving they can find a way to get off the football field consistently. Of course, it was just one game, but the defense played confident and showed a little attitude that was lacking last season. Grade: A-
Alex Henery kicked a 48-yard field goal to get the Eagles on the scoreboard on their second possession. It was the only field goal attempt of the night for the Eagles, but Henery also converted on all four extra point attempts as well. Punter Donnie Jones punted six times and had four fall inside the 20-yard line with just one touchback. Jones averaged 42.3 yards per punt and he had a long of 61 yards. The Eagles did not return any of the three punts by Washington’s Sav Rocca. DeSean Jackson and Damaris Johnson each returned one kickoff, combining for 37 yards Grade: A
Although the Redskins battled back in the second half and the game became more interesting than Chip Kelly would have liked, it was a successful debut for the new head coach, who became the first Eagles head coach to win his debut since Rich Kotite. Mike Vick showed good command leading the offense, LeSean McCoy had a huge day on the ground and DeSean Jackson was effective in the field. The defense played with confidence and rattled Redskins offense early and often to help build a huge lead. If the Eagles play the way they did Monday night the rest of the season, they will be a very entertaining team to watch. Considering this was the first game of the year with a new coach and a new system, and it was played on the road against the defending division champs and a popular pick to win last night, it’s hard not to give the Eagles high marks. Grade: A-
For more news and updates, visit Philadelphia Eagles Central.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.