Good morning, everyone. Hope you slept well. I did. Well, the Eagles are 1-0, but that victory came at a cost. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson suffered what coach Doug Pederson described as a “significant injury” to his foot/leg late in the Redskins game and is going to be lost for a significant chunk of the season, if not all of it.
The coordinators are scheduled to hold their weekly news conferences Tuesday afternoon. So, reporters will have an opportunity to quiz Jim Schwartz on his plans for replacing Jackson, who was part of the Eagles’ tackle rotation with Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan and Hassan Ridgeway. On Wednesday, the Eagles will begin preparing in earnest for their Week 2 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, who are coming off a 28-12 Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
And if you’re looking for more Eagles, we’ve got you covered: Join our coverage team in an exclusive conversation on Sept. 10 at The Inquirer with live Week 1 analysis, expert season predictions, and more. We’ll bring the Wawa hoagies, you bring your burning Birds questions. Tickets: inquirer.com/minds.
— Paul Domowitch (email@example.com)
There will be much tougher tests in the coming weeks for the Eagles’ offensive line than the one they passed with flying colors on Sunday against the Redskins.
But their impressive play in the 32-27 come-from-behind win is a very good sign for a team that is gunning for its second Super Bowl title in three years.
The line kept quarterback Carson Wentz clean most of the day and also paved the way for three first downs on quarterback sneaks by Wentz. It also opened hole after hole for the Eagles’ running backs as they averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the second half.
“Those sneaks start with the offensive line and with [center Jason] Kelce and [left guard Isaac] Seumalo and [right guard] Brandon [Brooks],’’ coach Doug Pederson said. “Those are three guys that get a lot of movement. [Defenses] are going to put their big tackles in the A-gap and make it hard. But our guys moved them out of there pretty good.’’
The Eagles had seven rushing first downs and six runs of 8 yards or more in the second half, and controlled the ball for more than 21 minutes in the final two quarters as they overcame a 20-7 halftime deficit.
“The offensive line did a heck of a job,’’ tight end Zach Ertz said. “Obviously, the spotlight is going to be on the skill-position players. But Carson barely got touched.
“If they’re rolling like that, it’s going to be tough for us to be stopped. Those five guys, in my opinion, are the best in the league. And as an offense, we’re going to go as they go. And they were really dominant today.’’
Ertz and the Eagles’ other tight end, Dallas Goedert, should also take a bow. Both of them blocked very well in the running game in the second half, helping the line open holes for rookie Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles and Jordan Howard.
The line didn’t play much in the preseason. Peters, Johnson and Brooks didn’t play at all in the four exhibition games. Kelce and Seumalo each played 18 snaps in the third game and sat out the other three.
Brooks started Sunday, just eight months after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints. He was on a pitch count and played 55 of 75 snaps against the Redskins. He said after the game that he should be ready to play every snap this week against the Falcons.
“Any time you can run the ball and stuff it down their throats and there’s nothing they can do about it, it’s a good feeling,’’ Brooks said of Sunday’s performance. “The guys across from us are tired. They don’t want you running it every play. To be able to do it and impose your will, man, there’s no better feeling.’’
Pederson was very impressed by Brooks’ play, given the serious injury he is coming back from.
“He was explosive,’’ he said. “Being able to come off the ball, change of direction, it just looked like he picked up where he left off.’’
With Brooks and the rest of the line giving Wentz ample time, the fourth-year quarterback turned in one of the best games of his career. He completed nearly 72 percent of his passes and threw for three touchdowns, including two beautiful bombs on third-and-longs to his new favorite toy, DeSean Jackson.
Wentz completed 12 of 13 passes on third down for 199 of his 313 passing yards. Nine of those 13 third-down attempts produced first downs, which equaled Wentz’s career high.
Officially, Wentz was sacked once. But that one was questionable. He stepped up in the pocket and started to run and appeared to get across the line of scrimmage. But they ruled it a sack.
According to Pro Football Focus, the five offensive line starters gave up zero sacks, two hits (by Lane Johnson and Seumalo) and three hurries (two by Johnson, one by Kelce).
The same three players I’ve been lobbying my fellow selectors about for several years now, Chip: former Eagles Harold Carmichael and Eric Allen and the late linebacker, Sam Mills, who played for the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League, and later, the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers. Carmichael, who caught 590 passes, 79 for touchdowns, should’ve been in years ago. He’s been hurt by the fact that he spent a big chunk of his career playing for some really bad Eagles teams, and many of the Hall of Fame selectors are Super Bowl snobs. Harold needs to be nominated by the senior committee, of which I am not a member. But I’m told he’s moving up the list of candidates. Allen had 54 career interceptions, which is one more than Ty Law, who was inducted last year, and just one less than Aeneas Williams, who went in a few years back. He also is eighth all-time in interception returns for touchdowns (8). Mills made it to the final 25 five years ago. He was one of the best inside linebackers of the ’80s and ’90s. Jim Mora called him the "best player I’ve ever coached.'' And he coached Hall of Famers Rickey Jackson and Willie Roaf. Two other non-players I’ve lobbied hard for are former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil and the late Steve Sabol of NFL Films. Steve’s father Ed was inducted in 2011. Steve belongs in Canton right beside him.