5 reasons to be encouraged by Eagles' Week 1 win

Eliot Shorr-Parks
September 09, 2019 - 8:36 am

Week 1 was certainly a rollercoaster for Eagles’ fans as they watched their team go down 20-3 only to rally back for a 32-27 win over the Washington Redskins. 

It was only the first week of the season, but from the slow start to the dominating finish, there was plenty of things for the coaching staff to be encouraged by as they start to prepare for a Week 2 trip to Atlanta. 

Derek Barnett: The Eagles are making a major bet on defensive end Derek Barnett this season. They let Michael Bennett go and didn’t make a move for Jadaevon Clowney because of their confidence in the third-year player. One game in their belief in Barnett is paying off. No defensive player in the league, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, finished with more quarterback pressures than the eight that Barnett totaled on Sunday. Barnett did exactly what he was supposed to do and took advantage of a bad Washington offensive line, spending plenty of time in the face of quarterback Case Keenum. Barnett’s strong game was a big reason why the Eagles’ defense went from giving up 20 points in the first half to only seven meaningless points in the second half. He didn’t register a sack, but in many ways Week 1 couldn’t have gone better for Barnett.  

DeSean Jackson: It isn’t likely that receiver DeSean Jackson is going to catch eight passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns every week (although maybe it shouldn’t be ruled out). What was encouraging was how blazing fast Jackson still looked. Even at 32-years old Jackson was still one of the fastest players in the league on Sunday, hitting speeds of 21.4 MPH and 20.86 MPH on his two 50-plus yard touchdowns. Defenses will certainly try to adjust to make sure Jackson can’t run free down the field like he did against Washington, but with Jackson’s speed and Carson Wentz’s arm, it looks like that duo is going to be very hard to stop. Add in the fact that Jackson also worked the intermediate routes as well, and it is hard to believe the Eagles landed him from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for basically just as sixth-round pick. 

Miles Sanders: Rookie running back Miles Sanders having his first NFL touchdown taken away was certainly a buzzkill. The good news is it doesn’t look like it will be long until he gets one that counts. Sanders played the most snaps among the running backs on Sunday and lead the group in carries (11) as well. Had his 21-yard touchdown run not been nullified he would have lead the team in rushing as well. It is clear that the coaching staff trusts him, and despite his below-average numbers — 25 yards on 11 carries — he showed some definite flashes of greatness on Sunday. What was also encouraging was the job Sanders did in pass protection, picking up an oncoming defender multiple times throughout the game. 

No turnovers: For as rusty as the Eagles looked in the first half, one of the reasons the Eagles didn’t let the game completely get away from them was the great job the did taking care of the ball. Getting out of Week 1 with no turnovers was extremely impressive considering the first-team offense didn’t take a single snap together in the preseason. The Eagles were one of only nine teams in Week 1 not to turn the ball over. 

Timmy Jernigan: When the Eagles brought back Timmy Jernigan this offseason it was a bit of a surprise, considering his 2018 season was spent almost exclusively on the sideline due to injury. Jernigan made general manager Howie Roseman look smart on Sunday, however, when he notched his first solo sack since 2017. Depth along the defensive tackle spot is going to be important, especially with Fletcher Cox coming off of a foot injury and Malik Jackson now dealing with one as well after yesterday. Jernigan having a stellar Week 1 should ease some concerns about the depth at defensive tackle. 

Carson Wentz: Jackson’s return was the headline and the receiver was the star of the show on Sunday. The MVP of the game, however, was Wentz. You can spin his strong Week 1 game however you want, but even his numbers — 313 yards and three touchdowns — don’t tell the whole story. He was rusty to start, but anybody with eyes saw a quarterback in the second half that looked a whole lot more like the one we all saw in 2017 as opposed to 2018. Wentz has a very long way to go to answer all of the very fair questions he’s had to face all offseason. Still, he certainly looked like a player very much ready to have a big season. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!