It is overreaction week in many parts of the country but that is not the case in Philadelphia. The Eagles managed to beat the Redskins for the first time in five meetings in what was a fairly solid showing from many guys, especially Brandon Graham and Jalen Mills. Carson Wentz escaped pressure and made some great plays, including this gem to Nelson Agholor. The secondary made plays despite Ronald Darby going down early, and a strip-sack and subsequent fumble recovery turned into a touchdown for Fletcher Cox to seal the deal. Overall, the birds looked good in this game and eagles nation can breathe a little bit easier this week. However, the team faces a tough challenge next week when they face off against the well rested Kansas City Chiefs. Here are five takeaways from this week’s game, including areas where improvement is needed.
The Offensive Line Was Shaky
The Eagles are thrilled to have Lane Johnson back for a full season, but issues still remain with the offensive line. Although Carson managed to escape the pocket and make great throws on multiple occasions, the pressure he was taking could become a huge issue as the season drags on. This is also an issue as the Eagles look to establish a running game. The o-line certainly wasn’t terrible and it’s not like Wentz was sacked seven times like Deshone Kizer, but it is certainly a weak area on the team. Time will tell if the unit gels as the season moves on.
The Running Game Is Weak
Going into the season we knew that running the football would not be this team’s strength. Legarrette Blount had 14 carries for 46 yards while Sproles had only two carries for two yards. Both backs saw usage in the passing game however, with Blount hauling in a touchdown and Sproles catching five passes for 43 yards. Wendell Smallwood was perhaps the biggest disappointment, carrying the ball four times for only four yards. Smallwood has also never shown much blocking ability. The general feeling was that Smallwood would get looks this season as Sproles is 34 and Blount is a brusier. The jury is still out on him and one game is no indicator, but if Smallwood doesn’t produce look for undrafted rookie Corey Clement to get work.
Jalen Mills Is A Beast
The second year man out of LSU had a great game on Sunday. Mills lead the team in tackles with eight and came up with his first career interception, a clutch red zone pick. What was most impressive about the performance Mills gave was the fact that he did most of his work after Ronald Darby went down with an ankle injury. Mills has drawn praise from former LSU teammate Odell Beckham Jr. for his poise and confidence, and it has shown thus far in his brief NFL career. The Eagles will be counting on Mills to produce while Darby recovers from his injury.
The Vertical Threat Is There
The Eagles made headlines this offseason by bringing in two established veterans in Torrey Smith and Alshon Jefferey to bolster the receiving corps. It goes without saying that this is a huge plus for Carson Wentz and the potential was on full display in week one. Wentz targeted Torrey Smith for two long balls that were broken up by Josh Norman. Norman is an elite corner and is a challenge the birds will not be facing on a weekly basis. Against lesser corners Smith most likely would have hauled in at least one of those balls. Alshon Jefferey was rather quiet this game, but that will certainly not be the case going forward. Wentz struggled with the deep ball last season while both of these receivers specialize in that area. Look for the Eagles to attempt more big plays down the field as the season drags on.
Don’t Give Up On Nelson Agholor
Agholor was a punching bag for the fan base last season and for good reason. Drops have plagued him and he notoriously caused a touchdown called back during the Seahawks game last year due to an illegal formation. That said, the potential is still there and he is one of the few receivers still here from last season. On Sunday, Agholor caught six passes for 86 yards including a 58 yard touchdown early in the game. This was a solid showing, but it is worth mentioning that Agholor was good in week one last year but was abysmal for the rest of the season. It is also worth noting that his touchdown reception was largely thanks to the footwork of Carson Wentz. Still, Agholor is worth a roster spot and will continue to get looks. Hopefully he will benefit from lowered expectations and spotlight.