The Eagles beat the Panthers in the opener on Sunday to start the season off on a good note. The game however might not have ended on a good note with Donovan McNabb suffering cracked ribs when scoring on a touchdown run.
The game started out with a Panthers touchdown drive that basically took up half the first quarter and ended up with an 11 yard touchdown run from DeAngelo Williams. After that point, the Eagles defense would flat out dominate. After Akers kicked a field goal, on the next Panthers possession, Trent Cole busted up the middle and sacked Delhomme, forcing a fumble. Victor Abiamiri picked it up and fell into the end zone for a touchdown. Delhomme's day would only get worse. DeSean Jackson took a punt 85 yards for a score, and forcing the Panthers to turn the ball over all game allowed the Eagles to take advantage of short fields and come away with a 38-10 win on the road.
On offense, the Eagles were forced to do very little. The offensive box score looks weird for scoring so many points, but nothing really was needed from the offense. McNabb ended the game 10-18 for just 79 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and a rushing TD. I thought McNabb played well for the most part. The interception was the only real bad throw he had, throwing it to the linebacker dropping back in coverage. The Eagles receivers did have a few drops. The Eagles ran the ball well, Westbrook had 13 carries for 64 yards and a receiving touchdown, and LeSean McCoy had 9 carries for 46 yards. The Eagles leading receiver was Brent Celek who had 6 catches for 37 yards and a TD. Going into future games, the offense needs to play better. I need to see more from the receivers in general. Kevin Curtis in my opinion is really just not all that good. He's an average receiver at best, drops too many passes, and can't get open enough from the outside. He belongs in the slot, but isn't used there. When Kolb came in, the offense didn't do too much, and Kolb continues to struggle when he faces game situations.
The story of the game however was the defense. The Eagles defense held the Panthers to just 169 total yards, which included just 86 yards rushing. The Panthers were one of the best rushing teams in the league last season. Sean McDermott really did well in his first game at defense coordinator. To be honest, after watching the Eagles in the preseason, I was a little nervous about the defense coming into this season. Well, in game 1, they were solid. The ended the game with 5 interceptions, 2 from Sheldon Brown, and 1 each from Asante Samuel, Akeem Jordan, and Joselio Hanson. The defense also had 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and a touchdown. Darren Howard led the Eagles with 2 of the 5 sacks. The Eagles defensive tackles did real well against the run, and the Eagles were in the Panthers backfield all game. If this is the defense that will show up every week, the Eagles will again be one of the best units in the league. I will say that I saw Macho Harris miss a few tackles, which can't happen from your free safety, and Harris needs to get better as the season goes on. It won't be as easy next weekend when the Eagles play the Saints who feature maybe the best offense in the NFL.
As I mentioned earlier, Donovan McNabb suffered cracked ribs in the 4th quarter on a 3 yard touchdown run. Reid said after the game that McNabb would need to be re-evaluated to see if he will play next weekend, but all indications are that he probably will not. This injury to fully heal usually is a 2-4 week injury, but players have come back the next week and played, so we will see how that plays out. Either way, it was a good game, and a good start to the season to get out of the gates, especially for the defense.