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Washington showed Eagles that efficiency, not flashy football, can be effective | Early Birds

Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins wasn't flashy, but he also didn't commit any turnovers.

Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson goes after Washington  quarterback Dwayne Haskins during the first quarter.
Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson goes after Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins during the first quarter.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

This was not how the Eagles had hoped to start the season, squandering a 17-point lead, surrendering eight sacks and losing, 27-17, to the host Washington Football Team on Sunday.

As coach Doug Pederson kept saying in his postgame press conference, it is only one game. For the Eagles, that is a good thing as they now prepare for Sunday’s home opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

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Being turnover-free led to Washington win

When dissecting Sunday’s loss, one thing that will be disheartening to the Eagles' coaches is that they were beaten by a Washington Football Team that didn’t play particularly well on offense.

Mistake-free, yes, but not dominating to say the least. Yet nobody should minimize being mistake-free.

The Eagles had three turnovers, and Washington had zero. Washington’s first two touchdowns came after Carson Wentz threw interceptions. That allowed Washington to narrow a 17-0 deficit to 17-14. The winners received the ball on the Eagles' 45 and the Eagles' 20 after Wentz’s interceptions.

Washington didn’t force the issue. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was asked after the game what the difference was between the team from the first half, when it trailed by 17-7, and the second half.

“Probably letting the play come to us," Haskins said. “A lot of times when you are down, you try to make the big play when it is not there."

Consider: Washington was just 5-for-18 (28%) on third-down conversions, In addition, Washington averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. Washington had just 239 total yards, and Haskins’ longest completion was 21 yards. Yet, by having no turnovers, this effort was enough.

Much of the blame will be rightly pointed toward the Eagles offensive line’s allowing eight sacks and Wentz’s holding the ball too long, causing some of those sacks.

Yet on the first Washington interception, by Fabian Moreau, Wentz had enough time but Moreau jumped the route of Jalen Reagor. The second interception was similar, with Jimmy Moreland jumping the route of John Hightower. Wentz had ample protection on that play as well, but forced the issue.

The fact that both passes were targeted to rookies who could have fought for the ball more is valid, but still, Haskins didn’t force throws and Wentz did and not just on the two interceptions.

That is part of what makes Wentz great, his belief in his ability to make any throw, but in this game, a more conservative, mistake-free method (along with a dominating defensive line) won out.

What you need to know about the Eagles

Jeff McLane gave his grades for the game in his Up-Down Drill. Wentz was the one player who earned both an Up and a Down grade.

Marcus Hayes wrote it’s great to have football back, even if the Eagles opened with a disappointing performance.

McLane writes that the Eagles had better get their offensive line right, or it could sink the 2020 season. Injuries are a big part of the struggles, but eight sacks are still eight sacks.

Mike Sielski gave his observations of the game and began by looking at Wentz’s day, which started so promising but ended in frustration.

Paul Domowitch gives his report card for the game, and there are plenty of low grades for the Eagles.

Social media weighed in on the Eagles loss and, not surprisingly, those tweeters weren’t happy.

Not surprisingly, Pederson says the sacks and mistakes that led to the loss can’t happen, and Wentz said he felt fine after the pounding.

Sielski writes that Pederson needed to save Wentz from himself. He didn’t, and it cost the Eagles dearly.

Kristen Graham caught up with a tailgate in Gloucester County, enjoying watching the Eagles (except for the loss) on a giant movie screen.

Ed Barkowitz writes that the Eagles defeat was good news to bookies.

EJ Smith writes about the already growing number of Eagles injuries, The Eagles were already missing six presumptive starters, and by the end of the game, they were without three more.

Here is the look at the game through the lens of Inquirer photographers.

From the mailbag

Question: Why didn’t they roll out Wentz more after like the 4th sack? — Michael Spear via Facebook

Answer: Thanks for the question, Michael. I think that is a question that Pederson and his coaches will be asking this week. Too many times, Wentz was a stationary target in the pocket. While I realize you don’t want him running the ball a lot because of his injury history, a few RPOs wouldn’t hurt. I think when they play the Rams next week, you will see Wentz rolling out more.

Even if he rolls out, he has to get rid of the ball more quickly. While he has an aggressive mindset in always trying to make a play, there are times he should just throw the ball away. I would be surprised if the Eagles don’t roll him out more against a Rams team that, with Aaron Donald, will definitely offer a strong rush up the middle.