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October 23, 2017

First half observations: Eagles 17, Redskins 10

The Eagles did not get off to an, ahem, flying start on Monday Night Football, but they ended up turning on in a furious second-quarter stretch. Despite some penalty issues and a lack of execution on both sides of the ball, Philadelphia is heading into halftime with a 17-10 lead.

The Good

•  The Eagles sent an all-out blitz on third down midway through the first quarter. It worked to perfection, and almost earned the Eagles an interception in the process.

One complaint here: doesn't Rodney McLeod have to at least pretend like he came up with this one? At least make the refs go to the booth on this one.

•  Derek Barnett had a pretty underwhelming start to the game, but he did pick up a nice sack to stop the Redskins on a third-down play.

•  Malcolm Jenkins did not give Jordan Reed any chance to make a play after the catch on this third-down play:

•  Doug Pederson made the call to go up-tempo late in the first quarter with the offense sputtering, and it earned the Eagles a first down they desperately needed. A couple plays later, Mack Hollins stepped onto the field and did this:

Hollins was infamous for his ability to take the top off of defenses in college, scoring on almost 1/4 (20/81) of his catches at UNC. This will certainly help his professional ratio follow the same trend.

• The Wentz to Ertz connection is real, and it's spectacular. Ertz hauled in two receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown in the first two quarters of action, and this partnership is slowly morphing from "good chemistry" to "dynamic duo" status. When the Eagles need a play to be made, it's clear who Wentz is looking for.

The Bad

•  The Eagles' success on defense has been predicated on their ability to stop the run and keep teams in third-and-long situations. They did not do a good job of stopping Washington up front in the first half.

As a matter of fact, they didn't do much of anything well in the first half. They ended up limiting the damage on the scoreboard, but Philadelphia allowed Washington to pick up big chunks of yards at a time, erasing the good that was done when they got into the backfield and hit Kirk Cousins. 

This was what it looked like with a full nine minutes left in the second quarter.

That's not going to cut it. This would have been a good night for the defense to hold down the fort and for the offense during a slow start, but both sides of the ball came out looking a bit rusty. Neither unit was all that sharp after the 10-day layoff. 

•  Wentz's escapability has been a big factor in his early-season success, but sometimes he has to make the quick read and get rid of the ball, whether that's throwing it to a running back in the flat or just simply throwing the ball away. With the Eagles marching into Washington territory, Wentz tried to extend a play, and he lost his footing, handing the Redskins an easy sack.

The offensive line didn't exactly help him out much in the first half, either.

Thankfully, they got things rolling late in the half, and Wentz was able to hang in the pocket long enough to make plays.

The Ugly

•  On the second play of the game, Jordan Hicks went down in a heap, and had to be helped off the field. He was able to put zero pressure on his right leg.

At the conclusion of the first offensive series for Washington, things went from bad to worse.

Already without Mychal Kendricks for the game, this is a huge, huge loss for the Eagles' defense. Hicks is an impact player when he's on the field, but this is part of why he was available as a third-round selection when the Eagles snagged him. He just can't seem to string full seasons of healthy football together.

• Four penalties and an interception on the first four plays. Need I say more?

It's getting old complaining about the officiating week after week. The Eagles have to help themselves to some extent, but it's grating to watch when both teams are getting called on every other play, especially when obvious penalties are missed in easy areas to call. There was no call on this play:

Officiating is hard. It's not as hard as these guys make it look.

•  Would anyone like to cover Chris Thompson? Perhaps Mychal Kendricks would, but the Eagles were without his services tonight, so Washington had quite an easy time in the red zone.