By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The story of the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles was injuries. The story of 2020 Eagles training camp was injuries. The story of week one against the Washington Football Team was suddenly becoming, how much of an impact would these injuries have on the Eagles game. The Eagles entered into this game against Washington winners of their last six straight against them, but the injuries to several key players, plus more in game, seemed to be too much to overcome.
The Eagles had an impressive opening drive after forcing a quick three and out on the first drive of the game for Washington. Wentz had two big pass connections to Desean Jackson for 19 yards and Dallas Goedert for 12 yards before a five yard touchdown grab by Zach Ertz. Ertz is fresh off an apparent “heated conversation” with Howie Roseman at a practice earlier in the week over his contract situation.
The Eagles forced two more three and outs and Dustin Hopkins missed a field goal. These situations were flanked by an Eagles field goal, punt and touchdown. A stark reality began to emerge for the Eagles on their second drive of the game despite the positive defensive play and early Eagles scoring, this offensive line is in trouble. The Eagles entered the day with Andre Dillard done for the season, Brandon Brooks done for the season and later in the week informing fans that Lane Johnson had surgery in August that he was still healing from and was ruled out on gameday. Leaving Nate Herbig and rookie Jack Driscoll to man the right side of the line.
As the first quarter neared its end Wentz had dropped back seven times and was sacked three times. By the time Wentz dropped back for his 11th time to start the second quarter, he was sacked for the fourth time and knocked down six times. Pederson did little to stop the bleeding, offering almost no help to the front five of the Eagles in the form of a blocking tight end and Boston Scott struggling in pass pro as well.
The defense looked good early on, including the as advertised front four, led by Malik Jackson who had a big quarterback hit and a tackle for loss on back to back third downs in the first quarter. The secondary looked improved with Darius Slay and a couple nice pass breakups from Rodney Mcleod. As the game moved on, the defense was put into worse and worse situations by Pederson and the offense leading to the blowing of a 17-0 lead, which started at the end of the first half with a Fabian Moreau interception of Carson Wentz with less than two minutes to go that led to a Logan Thomas touchdown.
It was pretty much the same old song and dance for the rest of the game as the Eagles went on to give up 27 unanswered points, including 20 more in the second half and losing 27-17. The run game struggled all day, the offensive line continued to have issues through the second half including the loss of Jack Driscoll to injury in the third quarter leading to Jordan Mailata making his NFL debut at right tackle after three years of development by the Eagles.
Carson Wentz finished the game sacked eight total times, fumbling two times (one lost) and intercepted twice. He completed 24 of 42 passes for 270 yards and two TDs. Dallas Goedert his favorite target with nine targets and eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. Boston Scott led the running backs with nine rush attempts for 35 yards. It is clear that the loss of Miles Sanders and the injuries across the offensive line were hard on the Eagles.
Wentz certainly enjoyed the number of new weapons at his disposal targetting eight guys. Despite the offensive line issues Wentz struggled with a similar issue he had throughout 2019 which was ball control and holding the ball too long.
It was a tale of two halves that started with the Moreau pick as Wentz started strong and struggled in the second half, while Haskins struggled to start and ended up with a respectable line down the stretch (17/31, 178 yards and 1 TD). The Footballs Team leading receiver was MacLaurin with five receptions for 61 yards and rookie Antonio Gibson led the running backs with nine carries for 36 yards.
We now play the waiting game this week to find out on the condition of those injured today which includes: Vinny Curry, Jack Driscoll and Brandon Graham plus we wait to see on if any of those who missed today's game will play next week, most importantly, Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson, Derek Barnett and Javon Hargrave. It is discouraging yet again as the Eagles stumble through training camp with what we felt was precautionary measures on injuries, which maybe worse plus more injuries right out of the gate.
Jim Schwartz and his defense have a number of things to be happy with despite a second half that they were put into bad situations by their offense. That front four is absolutely as advertised and will wreak havoc and that's without Javon Hargrave and Derek Barnett. Malik Jackson was impressive after waiting for about one year to see what we got in this free agent signing. The secondary looks better and much more competitive, something Eagles fans have been crying for for years! Hopefully things only get better for Schwartz and the defense as players get healthy.
The frustration was clear and expected from Wentz, but there are some major changes beyond the health of our players that need to be made heading into week two and even more competitive teams like the Los Angeles Rams. Doug Pederson gave Wentz little additional support when his offensive line crumbled, put his defense in bad situations throughout the second half and Wentz fell into old habits. Some of this could be a lack of a preseason, but the season doesn't get any easier from here.
Doug Pedersons perfect 4-0 opening day record is gone and six straight wins against Washington is over. Time for a fresh start and hopefully it's just an early season injury bug and the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles final season outcome is not determined by the same issues as the last couple seasons. We hold our breath as we head towards week two.