THE EAGLES ran 82 plays in Sunday's 34-17 win over Jacksonville. Averaged a play every 22.5 seconds, which is 1 1/2 seconds faster than last year's league-leading pace.
Caught the Jaguars sleeping, or more likely, gasping for air, on Darren Sproles' momentum-shifting, 49-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, quick-snapping the ball only 16 seconds after the previous play had been whistled dead.
"That was a great officiating crew," center Jason Kelce said of referee Jeff Triplette's unit. "They did an outstanding job of getting the ball set and letting us play fast. It was really good."
That wasn't always the case last season, when the league seemed determined to take the air out of the tires of Chip Kelly's uptempo offense.
"We have to make sure teams understand that they don't control the tempo; our officials do," Dean Blandino, the league's vice president of officiating, said in his best tough-guy voice last summer. "We're going through our normal ball mechanics. We aren't going to rush [unless] it's in the 2-minute drill."
The zebras' refusal to speed things up was a frequent source of exasperation last season for Kelly and his players, who kept hurrying to the line only to have to wait for the referee to let them snap the ball.
"The officials definitely limited how fast we could go numerous times last year," Kelce said. "I think the NFL probably will change in the next few years," as more and more teams go to a hurry-up style.
"But as of right now, it's still totally up to the officials as to when the ball is going to be spotted in play. They can hold that ball for as long as they want.
"Some officials really want to play fast. They want to get the ball set and let the game go. But other officials, quite frankly, stand over the ball and it takes forever to get going. You really don't know what you're getting from week to week."
Veteran right guard Todd Herremans acknowledged that the players too often let a slow officiating crew affect their play.
"We kind of let that get in our way last year," he said. "We'd be ready and the ref would be standing over the ball and we'd be, like, 'C'mon, hurry up. Get out of the way,' instead of just getting set and getting ourselves ready, so that when he does leave, we can go ahead and snap the ball.
"There are things that we can do while they're still standing over the ball, so that as soon as they leave we can snap it. If we get set, we can be ready to go as soon as the ref steps away. We've been working on that."
The Eagles have drawn referee Terry McAulay's crew for Monday night's game in Indianapolis. They had that crew only once last year, in their 33-30, Week 2 loss to the Chargers. The Eagles averaged a play every 20.4 seconds in that game, but had the ball for less than 20 minutes and ran only 58 plays.
Two things that could be problematic for the Eagles Monday as far as running their uptempo offense is that they are missing two starters on their offensive line and will be playing in one of the NFL's loudest buildings, Lucas Oil Stadium.
The plan as of yesterday was for Dennis Kelly to replace Evan Mathis at left guard and Andrew Gardner to take Allen Barbre's place at right tackle. Both Mathis and Barbre were injured in Week 1. Kelly started 10 games as a rookie in 2012. Gardner, who is on his sixth team, will make his first career start.
"Dennis can handle it, Andrew can handle it," Chip Kelly said. "It didn't affect us in the second half against Jacksonville."
That game was played in the semi-friendly confines of the Linc, though. This one will be in a retractable-domed noise factory, where it can be hard to hear yourself think.
"Any time you go on the road, it's a little bit difficult," Kelly said. "But I think we have a system that can handle where we are. We're not a vocal - we're not governed off of someone making a call."
The Eagles send in plays from the sideline via hand signals and cards.
"I think maybe that's a little bit different than how some other people run [uptempo]. You get it to the quarterback and he has to call everything out. They can make that difficult for him. But that's not how we're built."
Bigger rush role for Kendricks
One of the biggest keys to an improved Eagles pass rush this season will be inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks. It's becoming clear that defensive coordinator Bill Davis will let the speedy Kendricks loose a lot more to go after the quarterback this season.
He was used as a rusher 16 times in Sunday's win against the Jaguars, sometimes as part of a four-man rush, sometimes as part of five- and six-man blitzes. Kendricks had a sack, two quarterback hits and a batted pass, in addition to six tackles.
"Starting the second half of last season, as we began to learn who we had, we tried to use guys to their strengths," inside linebackers coach Rick Minter said. "In the case of Mychal, that's getting him going forward as much as possibly can."
Kendricks finished strong last season, collecting three sacks in the Eagles' last four games.
"Kendricks can be a Pro Bowl player," an NFC pro personnel scout told me 2 weeks ago. "He might lead the team in sacks this season. When they're in their base, they can easily drop both [outside] linebackers and rush him with the three defensive linemen. Let him go through the gap, take on the back, beat the center."
Kendricks' 16 pass rushes Sunday weren't much fewer than Connor Barwin's 23 and Trent Cole's 22.
"I left a lot of plays out there, too, that's what crazy," he Kendricks said. "I could have made a whole lot more [plays]. I should have had another sack if I played it right. I got thrown off-balance just a hair and dove for his feet. Damn, I wish I had that play back."
From the looks of things, there will be plenty more opportunities for him.
Figuring the Eagles
* The Eagles ran 82 offensive plays Sunday. Fifty-three were with "11" personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WRs). Twenty-six were with "12" personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs, 2 WRs). They ran only three plays with "21" personnel (2 RBs, 1 TE, 2 WRs). Nick Foles' passing numbers and LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles' rushing numbers out of the three personnel groupings:
C-A Yds. TD/I Sk.
11 personnel. . . 16-31 166 1/1 5
12 personnel. . . 9-11 139 1/0 0
21 personnel. . . 2-3 17 0/0 0
Att. Yds. TD
11 personnel. . . 10 55 0
12 personnel. . . 11 19 0
21 personnel. . . 0 0 0
11 personnel. . . 7 68 1
12 personnel. . . 4 71 0
21 personnel. . . 0 0 0
* The Eagles haven't allowed any points on an opponent's first possession in their last 12 regular-season games. Seven of those 12 possessions resulted in three-and-outs, two ended with turnovers.
* Six of the Eagles' 15 possessions Sunday began at their own 40-yard line or better. Their average starting field position was the 34-yard line. Last season, their average field position was the 27.9-yard line.
* The Eagles allowed only two rushing first downs to the Jaguars. That happened only twice last season. Only six of the Jags' 25 rushing attempts gained more than 4 yards.
* A breakdown of the Eagles' pass rush against Jacksonville, and the results:
No. C-A Yds. TD/I Sk.
Rushed 3. . . 5 5-5 51 0/0 0
Rushed 4. . . 28 14-27 165 1/0 1
Rushed 5. . . 9 3-8 32 1/0 1
Rushed 6. . . 4 1-3 17 0/0 1
* Sacks by Kendricks and Cole came on first-and-10. The third, by safety Nate Allen on a blindside blitz, came on third-and-10.
* Nine players on the Eagles' season-opening roster weighed 300 pounds or more. Only two teams in the league had fewer - the Patriots and Texans (both with eight). Four other teams - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and St. Louis also had nine. Washington had the most - 14.
* The Eagles had 10 players 30 or older on their Week 1 roster. That was the ninth most in the league.
This and that
* Well, either the league's defensive backs made a remarkable adjustment to the preseason crackdown on contact, or the officials got tired of throwing flags and decided to go back to the way things were. Probably a little of both. The result was considerably fewer penalties in Week 1 than in the preseason. The league averaged only 13.9 penalties per game in Week 1, which was only 0.5 more than the 2013 season average. Of the 222 penalties called in the first week, 24 were for defensive holding, 16 for defensive pass interference and 13 for illegal contact. The Eagles were flagged for only one of those three penalties against Jacksonville — defensive holding against cornerback Bradley Fletcher. So was it all a hoax? Are things back to normal?
"I still don't trust it," Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "I'm still making sure that we don't get those penalties to extend drives."
Said cornerback Cary Williams: "I think it's a little bit of both; they pulled back and we adjusted." Williams said he is more cognizant than ever of where the 5-yard contact zone ends. "I try to do my best to play within that 5-yard area. I have a clock in my head. I try to use it as best I can. In some instances, they're going to catch me. Other times, they're not. They're going to talk to you after the plays. It's great to have that type of communication, so that you can understand what you can and can't do."
* The Eagles had planned to honor recent Hall of Fame inductee Claude Humphrey at halftime of Sunday's season opener against Jacksonville. Humphrey, 70, initially agreed, but then canceled. Contacted yesterday, he said he has had some health issues that caused him to back out. Humphrey spent the final 3 years of his 13-year career with the Eagles. He is the only member of the Eagles' 1980 NFC championship team in Canton. Humphrey, a defensive end, had 14.5 sacks that year at age 36. He retired a year later. Humphrey was at Sunday's Atlanta-New Orleans game, where he was presented with his Hall of Fame ring. Humphrey spent the first 10 years of his career with the Falcons.
* Broncos tight end Julius Thomas had a big game against the Colts defense. He had seven receptions for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Can the Eagles' Zach Ertz wreak the same kind of havoc against them? "Thomas is an athletic tight end," Ertz said. "He uses his body very well. He was able to outrun some of their linebackers and some of their defensive backs. They kind of put him on an island against [safety LaRon] Landry on one of the plays, and he was able to run a quick little slant and get a touchdown out of that."
FROM THE LIP
* "There's a big difference between reading a report that says he knocked her unconscious and being told that someone had slapped someone and that she hit her head. That's what we understood to be the case. When you see the video, it just looks very different than what we understood the facts to be."
— Ravens president Dick Cass on why the team terminated Ray Rice's contract
* "It's very hard for somebody to change after you have been in a system. I did this with Carson Palmer last year. He had been in the same system pretty much 9 years. He has ideas and you're trying to reprogram. It is much easier getting a rookie and brainwashing him than it is to take a veteran and change him totally into a new system."
— Cardinals coach Bruce Arians in response to a question about Eli Manning's struggles in the Giants' new offense
* "Richard Sherman is a great corner. But, at the same time, I think you have to be smart. You don't want to go after him by any means. But our approach is not going to be to completely eliminate him and not ever throw over there."
— Chargers QB Philip Rivers on Seahawks CB Richard Sherman
BY THE NUMBERS
* LSU had the most players on NFL rosters heading into Week 1 — 38. USC was second with 37, followed by Alabama (36), Georgia (34), Miami (31) and Cal and Ohio State (29).
* Since realignment in 2002, 86 of the 144 playoff teams (59.7 percent) opened the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including five of last season's eight division champions.
* Ben Roethlisberger improved his career record against the Browns to 18-1 (.947) with last week's 30-27 win. That's the best mark by any quarterback against one team since at least 1970.
* The Patriots, who will face the Vikings Sunday, own the best interconference record in the league since 2002 realignment. They are 39-9-0 (.813) against the NFC.
* Falcons QB Matt Ryan notched his 24th career game-winning drive against New Orleans. That's the most in the NFL since Ryan entered the league in 2008.
* The Eagles became the first team in history Sunday to win a game by at least 17 points after being shut out and trailing by at least 17 points at halftime.
On Twitter: @Pdomo