What an awesome start to the 2008 season for the Birds. The Eagles did everything right in this game beat down. The Eagles scored on their opening drive, and never looked back.
McNabbulous – Donovan McNabb was the star of the show, as he finished the night with 361 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a QB rating of 131. McNabb fired crisp passes, moved very well in the pocket, and ran the Eagles offense like a well oiled machine. Every time Donovan checked out of one play to another it worked. Donovan looked great, and is completely back from the knee injury. He was flat out awesome, and the rest of the NFL should be afraid.
No Curtis, No Problem – All the talk leading up to this game was about the Eagles wide receivers. Starters Kevin Curtis(sports hernia) and Reggie Brown(hamstring) were both unable to play, and the team had to rely on little used backups including a rookie. Many felt the offense would struggle because of this, but the team instead thrived.
Rookie DeSean Jackson was very impressive. He got the party started by hauling in a 47 yard grab on the opening drive. He finished the game with 6 catches for 106 yards(17.7 avg). DeSean also had some nice punt returns, including a very exciting 60 yarder.
Veteran Greg Lewis was also a factor with 5 catches for 104 yards. On a great play action pass play, McNabb slightly under-threw a wide open Lewis who slowed down to catch a 52 yard pass. If McNabb had put just a little more in that throw, it would have been an easy touchdown. GLew has been killed in Philadelphia, but he is a solid 4th or 5th WR.
Hank Baskett had the play of the game with only seconds left before halftime. After two straight Westbrook runs went for just 2 yards, it seemed like the Eagles were going to just run out the clock on the half. Instead they went play action, and McNabb fired a bomb to Hank Baskett. Baskett was able to catch the ball in stride past the safety, and then coast to the endzone for a 90 yard touchdown. It was a really impressive play, and the third catch of over 80 yards in Baskett’s career(Only current NFL player with more than 1).
Jason Avant chipped in with some crucial third down conversions. The biggest catch was a 31 yard third down conversion that lead to a touchdown.
Gang Green Defense – This defensive unit played outstanding against St. Louis. They shut down the run, shut down the pass, pressured the QB, tackled well, and sniffed out screens. The Rams punted on 10 of their 11 possessions, and the one field goal they scored was against backups. While the Rams may not be a very good team, it is still great to shut down Torry Holt, Marc Bulger, and Steven Jackson.
Stewart Bradley was a player who stood out to me. Bradley led the team in tackles with 8, tipped a pass on a blitz, got a sack, and seemed to lead the defense with authority. He has a great tackling technique, and once he got his hands on a player, they went down. Bradley could be a difference maker in the middle of this Eagles defense.
The Eagles secondary is very good and deep. When a QB sees Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, and Lito Sheppard at CB, which guy does he try to pick on? Samuel played excellent, and broke up 3 passes. He did drop two interceptions, but I am sure those will come in time. He makes such a great break on a ball when a pass comes his way.
Quintin Mikell had a bullshit pass interference penalty called on him, but was able to make up for it in a big way on the next play. Mikell came on a blitz, sacked Bulger, and was even able to force the fumble. I see a great season for Mikell the one player in the defensive backfield who is not highly touted nationally.
Sheldon Brown layed a big hit on Rams RB Steven Jackson over the middle. Jackson’s helmet flew off, and it was another highlight hit for Brown. I laughed when Jackson tried to bounce right up as if he was OK, but that hit had to hurt. Sheldon Brown in my opinion is probably the most physical CB in the entire NFL. If he is not number 1, he is right up their among the best.