They all wanted in on the fun. One big hit leads to another. One sack creates a feeding frenzy. Suddenly, the Eagles' defensive line smells blood and there is no holding them back.
That's the way it was on Sunday at Washington in the 30-17 win over the Redskins. A superb defensive effort from front to back was greatly helped by a pass rush and a run defense that stymied Washington's explosive offense. It's going to have to remain that way for the Eagles to keep winning on defense with cornerback Ronald Darby out for a period of time with an ankle injury.
"We have trust in everyone and that's the way it's going to be," said defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, who had a quarterback sack and two total tackles in his Eagles debut. "Next man up. We know that if we do our job, it sets the tone for the rest of the defense."
Playing against a good Washington offensive line featuring Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and standout Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherff, the Eagles won the battle in the trenches. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz mixed in some timely and very effective blitzes, he used end Brandon Graham as a tackle in the nickel, and he altered his blitz scheme.
The Eagles also won one-on-one battles, and it paid off late in the game when Graham powered his way up the middle and hit quarterback Kirk Cousins, forcing a fumble that Fletcher Cox recovered and returned for the game-clinching touchdown.
All in all, the defensive line contributed four sacks, two from Graham. After allowing an average of 168.5 rushing yards per game last year in the two losses to Washington, the Eagles held the Redskins to 64 rushing yards on 17 carries. Thirty of them were by quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Washington converted just 3-of-11 third downs and gained a measly 264 yards of total net offense.
"We're just going to keep bringing it," Graham said. "We have a lot of guys here who are hungry and who want to shake things up. Our job is to create havoc. Jim tells us that all the time. He wants us to attack so that's what we do."
The addition of Jernigan paid dividends in Week 1 as the Redskins couldn't devote double teams all day long against Cox and the Eagles' depth paid off as Graham and Cox had some time to rest. Vinny Curry started and split reps with rookie Derek Barnett. Beau Allen played 25 snaps at tackle and Destiny Vaeao played 19 snaps. Chris Long chipped in with 26 snaps at end.
"Everybody contributes. Everybody is ready to step up and play," said Cox, who had a sack, a forced fumble, and the fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown. "There is no drop-off. We have a lot of depth here."
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Washington Redskins, 30-17, at FedEx Field in their season opener. Check out photos from the victory.