Yes, it was only 60 minutes of football. Yes it was against a rusty, rusty Robert Griffin III. But almost everyone, especially the so-called “experts” at ESPN, had the Washington Redskins as their NFC East favorites heading into tonight’s Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Their pick, the darling of the NFC last season, isn’t looking so good right now.
After a 33-27 loss at the hands of the rejuvenated Eagles, the Redskins don’t look like the team to beat anymore. Neither do the Giants, who turned the ball over six times against the Cowboys in a 36-31 loss. Neither do the Cowboys, whose secondary was shredded methodically by Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks.
The team to beat in the NFC East, as evidenced by this weekend’s play, is the Philadelphia Eagles, led by rookie head coach Chip Kelly. No one doubts the efficiency of the offense, featuring a college-style tempo, an innovative playbook, and dangerous weapons like Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson. Throw in an All-Pro offensive line, and it’s easy to see how they racked up 33 points and 443 total yards. They have easily the most explosive offense in the division, if not the conference.
The big question coming into the season was how this defense could hold up against offenses like the Redskins’, the Giants’, the Broncos’, etc. Sure, they faced a quarterback rustier than the Titanic, but gang tackling, opportunistic plays by the secondary, and pressure from the linebacker position, three staples of Jim Johnson’s defenses, were on full display tonight. Billy Davis deserves a lot of credit for his excellent play design, masking A-Gap rushes and zone coverages extremely well and confusing Griffin on play after play. I mean, it took the ‘Skins’ offense 44 minutes and 54 seconds to get on the board!
Now, this team is far from perfect. I still have my doubts about the secondary, which gave up a couple touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and Michael Vick’s decision-making, but I gained a lot of confidence in this team tonight, something I can’t say about the Giants, Redskins, or Cowboys.
It’s only been one game, but Chip Kelly’s Eagles already look like the most dangerous team in the NFC’s East division.