One game doesn’t announce a new era, no matter how different it looks from the shambles of last season. And yet the speed, quickness and effective of the new-look Philadelphia Eagles under Chip Kelly made everyone look better, especially running back LeSean McCoy.
You only need to look at what Kelly has done with LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas since 2009 to see how productive his system is for running backs. It’s more about the blocking of his offensive line and the creation of advantage by numbers, but it’s the same players who make the most of it every time.
McCoy was close to unstoppable, carrying the ball 31 times and finishing with 184 yards and a third quarter touchdown, as the Philadelphia Eagles blitzed the Washington Redskins right from the start at a pace no one was expecting, leading up to a 33-27 win, which wasn’t as close as it looked.
The way to know how close an NFL game was is to measure the minutes in which there was an actual chance for the losing team to do something. The Redskins were only back in the game with 1:14 minutes left on the clock, which tells a lot about the incredible pace of offense and success the Eagles saw, especially in the second quarter, leading up to a 33-7 lead.
The Eagles ran 53 plays and gained 21 first down in the first half alone, which was at a pace of an NFL record, but they were held to 0 points in the final 28 and a half minutes, showing that maybe this sort of pace isn’t something anyone can hang on to for an entire game, even with Michael Vick at quarterback doing a good job (15-of-25, 203 yards, two touchdowns), continuing his impressive record, picking up his fourth straight win against the Redskins. They averaged a play every 23 seconds during the first half. The quickest team last season were the Patriots, averaging 24.9 seconds between snaps.
The running game, however, drew most of the attention: Their most rushing yards since 2002 (263) and most run attempts (49) since 1997. McCoy was one yard shy of his career best, but he also ran for a career-high 178 yards in between the tackles, which is more than the Eagles had as a team in any game during the last 2 seasons.
It wasn’t only about the offense. The Eagles played a very strong first half on defense as well, limiting the Redskins to only 74 yards on the ground, intercepting Robert Griffin III twice and sacking him three times. There was also the safety tackle on Alfred Morris at the end of the first quarter, and better than anything was the fact that the Redskins had terrible field position all game long, starting 10 of their 13 drives inside their own 20.
It’s too soon to call Kelly a genius and a savior. It’s too soon to hail a defense that ended up hitting Robert Griffin III nine times during the game as a unit that’s going to be consistent all season long. The Eagles have a long way to go before what happened over the last couple of years is erased. But they’re on the right path, with the right quarterback, the right running back and probably the perfect head coach.