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Wake-Up Call: Eagles Unleash One 'Hell Of A D-Line'

Posted Sep 11, 2017

The 2016 Eagles couldn't win on the road nor could they win against Washington. Well, 2017 is a new year. The Eagles opened the season with a 30-17 win at Washington matching last year's win total on the road and erasing a five-game losing streak against their division rivals. Click here to check out the snap counts from the game and make sure to join us at noon for head coach Doug Pederson's day-after press conference. This afternoon, Dave Spadaro and Eagles Hall of Fame running back Brian Westbrook recap the win on Eagles 360. Until then, here's what you need to know for Monday, September 11.

1. Brandon Graham Picks Up Where He Left Off

Defensive end Brandon Graham earned second-team All-Pro honors a year ago and helped set the tone to start the 2017 campaign. Graham was buzzing all around Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, but to the quarterback's credit, his mobility largely kept him out of harm's way. That is until the game was on the line.

With 1:38 left in the game, and the Eagles holding a five-point lead, Graham flew off the left edge, ran into Cousins, and knocked the ball into the air. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who also had pressure on the play, scooped up the ball and ran it in 20 yards for a touchdown. On the Redskins' final series, Cousins went down again courtesy of Graham, who had four tackles, two for loss, two sacks, and the forced fumble in 43 snaps.

“I think we have a hell of a D-line. Everybody was contributing today and everybody was playing together and that’s why we were able to get sacks today," Graham said. "It’s not just me, it’s the guys that help me balance out the rush and it’s the guys on the back end who took away the first read. We made the plays that we were supposed to and I’m just happy we played together.”

2. No Sophomore Slump For Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz became the first quarterback in Eagles history to throw a touchdown pass on the first drive of the season in consecutive years.

And he did so in dramatic fashion.

Wentz ducked and darted away from two potential sacks, scrambled away from a few more defenders, managed to find decent footing, and bombed a pass along the left side to wide receiver Nelson Agholor. His receiver would do the rest, shaking off Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger to cap off the 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown that gave the Eagles their first score of the new year.

“A lot of it honestly is instinct. They ran a good coverage and just kind of things broke down and just made plays,” Wentz said. “But that’s something we’ve talked about all offseason. ‘Hey guys, never die out there. Always stay alive. Get open.’ And Nelson did a great job and I think we had another couple open guys as well and that’s just a thing we’ll kind of continually work on and be a big part of our game.”

Wentz finished 26-of-39 with 307 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

3. Secondary Comes Together In Darby's Absence

Cornerback Ronald Darby, acquired in a trade early in the preseason to beef up a thin position, went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s win over Washington and there is no official word on how long Darby will be out. The Eagles' secondary stepped up and finished the job against a potent Washington passing game in Darby's absence.

“It was tough to see him go down, but we had to rebound and I think we did that,” said cornerback Jalen Mills, who had his first career interception. “He’s our brother and we’re going to be with him no matter what the injury is like. He’s going to come back at some point. Until he does come back, we have to fill in around him.

“He is one of us and he’s been out here grinding with us, making plays. Once he was hurt, we all rallied around him. Not just the defense, but the entire team. We wanted to win this game for him.”

The Eagles did just that on Sunday, limiting Cousins to 240 passing yards and keeping a powerful Washington offense to just 264 total net yards and 10 points scored.


4. Jason Peters Vows To Be Ready For Kansas City

The Eagles played all but one snap of the entire second half of Sunday’s game at Washington with Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle, replacing the injured Jason Peters.

Peters suffered a groin injury late in the second quarter and then was replaced by Vaitai to end the half. Peters came out for the first snap of the third quarter, but then went back to the sidelines.

“It was tough. We had to have the win. It was frustrating to go out of the game,” Peters said. “I tried to come back but I just couldn’t go. I’m going to get it all treated up and get ready to get back out there.”

When asked if he thinks he will play in Kansas City on Sunday, Peters did not hesitate.

I’m going to play,” Peters said. “There is no doubt in my mind I will play.”

5. Nelson Agholor Showcases Key Role In Offense

The Nelson Agholor Redemption Tour took a big step forward on Sunday in the 30-17 win over Washington as the third-year wide receiver caught six passes for 86 yards on eight targets, and scored on a spectacular 58-yard touchdown catch and run from quarterback Carson Wentz.

And you know what? Agholor had “fun” in the season opener. How refreshing after a very difficult second NFL season for the Eagles’ 2015 first-round draft pick.

“We won the game and everyone contributed and that was the fun part of it,” Agholor said. “It was amazing. I look around at the guys I’m in the huddle with and I owe it to them to play hard and have fun. We owe it to each other to focus every day and give it up for your brother.”

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