Last week I talked about one of the keys to the Eagles beating the Redskins was going to be the play of 2nd year ILB Mychal Kendricks. I pointed out that to be successful the Eagles would need to rely on Kendricks to spy on RG3, containing him in the run game and protecting the middle of the field in pass coverage and run defense.
Well, I’m glad to sit here and tell you guys that Kendricks showed up to play on Monday… and in a big way. He was a big part of an Eagles defensive front 7 that executed their game plan by keeping pressure on RG3 and staying disciplined in their gap responsibilities. The coaches told Kendricks before the game to just do his thing and don’t worry about making mistakes. He followed these instructions and never looked back.
It didn’t take long for him to get involved. On the first offensive possession for the Redskins, RB Alfred Morris ran up the gut and was hit by Trent Cole, who knocked the ball loose. After one hop, Kendricks was able to recover it. The Eagles capitalized on this immediately with a 25 yard touchdown from Michael Vick to DeSean Jackson.
On the opening play of the next ‘Skins drive, Kendricks chased down Morris on a stretch play and shoved him out of bounds for a loss. This was one of several plays in the game that Kendricks showed his speed and athleticism by keeping with the stretch play and shooting into the backfield.
On the Eagles 1st quarter safety, Kendricks and Cole got penetration that allowed them tag Morris down in the backfield. If they hadn’t botched the toss there was still a good chance they would have brought Morris down in the end zone.
Late in the 2nd quarter Kendricks showed his blitzing potential. He shot up the middle on an RG3 drop back and absolutely crushed him. Griffin threw the ball as he was getting hit which drew an intentional grounding penalty that put the Redskins out of field goal position. Although he didn’t get the sack, it was absolutely excellent play.
Kendricks finished the game with a team leading 10 tackles, QB hit, QB hurry, a fumble recovery. and 3 tackles for losses/no gains. Not a bad stat line whatsoever. It was a great opening performance from a player the Eagles will count on in a big way throughout the season. It’s been a long time since Philly has seen premier play at the linebacker position, and they just might have a shot with Kendricks.
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