The Eagles started their 2013 NFL campaign in spectacular fashion.
A national audience got to see the unveiling of Chip Kelly’s offense, which certainly did look revolutionary. Yes, it was one game—and an odd one—but it held more importance than most single games do because it was the first NFL game for the new head coach.
The Redskins got a gift touchdown via a bad call (and a bad decision from quarterback Michael Vick) on the Eagles’ first possession. But the Eagles responded by pounding the hapless, gasping Redskins defense through the air and on the ground to the tune of 33 consecutive points.
The vaunted Kelly offense did indeed soar, for a half at least, and fans were treated to a glimpse of what could be possible. More than 50 plays, 300-plus yards of total offense and 26 points (which would have been more if not for a Red Zone turnover on their first possession).
The breathtaking pace, odd formations and improved offensive line play were all keys, but each pales in comparison to the fact the Eagles rushed the ball 49 times for 263 yards.
Eagles fans have begged for the Eagles to pound the ball for years. They finally got their wish Monday night, and it worked better than anyone could have hoped (with the exception of taking their foot off the pedal on both sides of the ball after McCoy’s 34 yard TD scamper).
Then Jason Avant did the one thing the Eagles could not afford: turning the ball over deep in his own territory, leading to a quick Redskins touchdown that allowed the opponents back into the game. He also almost fumbled away an onside kick, but a teammate recovered to seal Kelly’s first win.
After sitting out the entire preseason resting his surgically repaired knee, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III seemed very rusty to begin the night. He came to life in the second half, but the Eagles had built up too big of a lead by then.
Nothing was more important than learning that Chip Kelly could—and did—devise and execute an NFL-level game plan. Even a couple of well-timed leg cramps by Redskins defenders couldn’t slow the Eagles offense. It was as fun to watch as the Greatest Show on Turf.
Even the Eagles defense was better than expected, forcing two turnovers and a safety in the first half against a generous Redskins offense. Was the real Eagles defense the one that dominated in the first half or the one that got torched in the second half?
The answer lies somewhere in between. Trent Cole, Mychal Kendricks, Cary Williams, Demeco Ryans and Connor Barwin all played very well, but no one would call this a shut-down defense.
The Eagles will have to score a lot of points to win games. We already knew that. What we now know is that they can, which is a lot of fun to watch. This team is showing itself to be a big improvement over last season’s already...at least, for one game it has.