Eagles-Washington: Instant Observations

What we saw from the Birds in their first NFC East game of the season.

Carson Wentz. (USA Today Sports)

Carson Wentz. (USA Today Sports)

LANDOVER, MD — Washington beat the Eagles, 27-20. Here’s what we saw in the Birds’ first NFC East matchup:


*The Eagles’ defense and special teams bailed out poor offensive play in the first half, but Doug Pederson’s unit came up short overall. They accounted for zero points in the first two quarters, and they scored just one touchdown in the entire game. The Eagles picked up only 239 yards of total offense and averaged 2.1 yards per play in the first half.

*Carson Wentz uncharacteristically missed some opportunities in the first half, including three plays in which he over-threw Jordan Matthews. He completed just three of his eight first-half pass attempts for 28 yards, averaging only 3.5 yards per throw. He recorded a 47.9 passer rating, and was sacked three times for a loss of 16 yards. He finished the game completing 11 of his 22 pass attempts for 179 yards and a 77.7 passer rating.

*Wentz consistently threw the ball too high throughout the game, which is a problem he encountered early in the offseason. Even on completions, like his 23-yard throw to Dorial Green-Beckham and 22-yard completion to Zach Ertz on back-to-back plays, he sailed the ball a bit. On the play before the Eagles’ field goal in the middle of the fourth quarter, Ertz dropped a potential touchdown on a quick slant, but Wentz could’ve made the catch easier if he placed the ball lower.

*However, Wentz did make a few impressive plays. He threw a beautiful 54-yard completion to Matthews down the seam, and he eluded pressure on one third-and-long to deliver an 18-yard strike to Nelson Agholor over the middle. He also had an impressive 38-yard pass to Green-Beckham called back as he rolled left and threw back toward the right over the middle.

*The Eagles ran the ball 21 times for 94 yards, but other than a 22-yarder from Ryan Mathews, they didn’t do much on the ground against a team that entered the game as the worst run defense in the NFL in terms of yards per carry (5.1).

*Part of the reason Wentz struggled to get into a rhythm in the first half is because of how much Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled. Vaitai allowed two early sacks against Ryan Kerrigan, who easily got underneath the right tackle and quickly gained leverage on most snaps. Vaitai previously said he has concentrated on lowering his pad level in pass sets, but he failed to do so early on against Kerrigan.

*Although Vaitai improved as the game went on, the Eagles had to give him a lot of help. Part of the reason the Eagles’ tight ends weren’t targeted much is because of how many times they chipped Vaitai’s man.


*The Eagles continued their trend of playing much better in the second half, but they once again gave up 21 first-half points. Missed tackles killed the Birds as they consistently allowed Washington to extend drives and generate big plays. Before Washington’s 45-yard run on their second touchdown drive, which featured multiple missed tackles, Nigel Bradham missed Kirk Cousins in the open field on third-and-7, which extended the drive.

*The Eagles also committed a lot of penalties for the second consecutive week, as they were penalized 13 times for 114 yards. According to CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank, they committed 13 penalties in back-to-back games for the first time since 1940.

*Malcolm Jenkins made a big play in the second quarter as he jumped a Cousins pass intended for Vernon Davis and returned his interception 64 yards for a touchdown. However, Jenkins didn’t play well otherwise. He was beaten several times in coverage, including on Jamison Crowder’s 16-yard touchdown catch and Davis’ 37-yard reception. According to Frank, Jenkins is the first Eagle to ever tally a pick-six in three consecutive seasons.

*DeSean Jackson gave Jalen Mills more than the rookie could handle in the first half as he caught four passes for 55 yards — in addition to drawing a defensive holding penalty — on six targets. With Leodis McKelvin out, the Eagles announced Ron Brooks would start before the game, but Mills got the nod instead. Washington exploited the matchup as Jackson’s 35-yard reception helped set up Washington’s first touchdown.

*For the second consecutive week, Fletcher Cox recorded a third-down penalty that extended a touchdown drive. After ripping off Matthew Stafford’s helmet last week and getting called for unnecessary roughness, he was penalized for roughing the passer this week on third-and-goal. Washington ran for a one-yard touchdown three plays later.

*Before he hurt his left groin at the end of the second quarter, Bennie Logan was one of the Eagles’ best players in the first half. He recorded at least one pressure, fought off Washington’s interior offensive line for his first tackle and easily threw Shawn Lauvao to the ground as he recorded a tackle-for-loss.



*Wendell Smallwood returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, but the Eagles owe Vernon Davis a fruit basket. After Washington’s tight end caught a 13-yard touchdown pass, he received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as he celebrated. Dustin Hopkins kicked the ball too far for the Eagles to return it on the previous two kickoffs, but because of the 15-yard penalty, the Eagles could return the kick.