New coach Chip Kelly delivered the NFL's story of the week with the Philadelphia Eagles' full-tilt pace and exotic schemes that threw the Washington Redskins for a loop in the first half of Monday's 33-27 Eagles victory.
The Eagles ran 53 plays in the first half, more than any team in Week 1. The result was a rejuvenated Michael Vick accounting for three touchdowns in a win for the first time since his epic six-touchdown masterpiece against the Redskins in 2010.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was tasked with a career-high 31 carries. Vick came up limping at the end of a 36-yard run early in the fourth quarter. He managed just 9 second-half passing yards after taking entirely too many hits early on. The 33-year-old still was walking gingerly after the game.
Kelly certainly has concocted an offense that will allow Vick and McCoy to thrive. The test will be keeping his offensive stars in one piece while putting them at greater risk because of the taxing play count.
Here's what else we learned from Monday night's two games:
- Monday night was a lesson for anyone who didn't realize how much Kelly loves to run the ball. The Eagles ran 49 times, more than Andy Reid did in any game during his entire 14-year tenure in Philadelphia. It wasn't all about the team's big lead, either. McCoy had more yards by halftime than any running back did in an entire game on Sunday.
- Robert Griffin III wasn't stepping into throws. He looked much better in the second half, but overall his accuracy was much shakier than last year. The Redskins rarely had him on the move, and the read option was not in the playbook for the most part.
- Without the read option to slow down defenses, Washington's running game wasn't effective. Alfred Morris had his worst game as a pro, losing one fumble and botching an end-zone pitch from Griffin.
- Linebacker Trent Cole looked like his old self for Philadelphia. That's a great sign for an Eagles team desperate for pass rushers. Second-year inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks also showed playmaking ability, leading the team with 10 tackles.
- Bryce Brown played over Chris Polk as the Eagles' second running back. Tight end James Casey, signed to a three-year, $12 million contract in March, was noticeably absent behind Brent Celek and rookie Zach Ertz.
- Texans defensive stars Brian Cushing and J.J. Watt came up with huge plays late in the game after failing to make an impact for three quarters. Rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins played a similar game on offense. Houston's comeback was successful because it stayed patient and balanced on offense, in stark contrast to San Diego.
- Arian Foster was vexed about losing carries to Ben Tate in crunch time, but it's hard to blame the Texans' coaches. Although Foster ran hard, he left yards on the field while Tate picked them up. Foster simply has to knock the rust off over the next week or two.
- Much like veteran receivers Reggie Wayne and Anquan Boldin, Texans stalwart Andre Johnson shows no signs of slowing down. He was the best player on the field most of the night.
- Ryan Mathews looked good early on for the Chargers, but offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and coach Mike McCoy abandoned the run after halftime. Mathews played on passing downs in the first two quarters but gave way to Ronnie Brown in those situations late in the game.
- Antonio Gates looks noticeably faster this year. Philip Riversregained his confidence in the pocket.
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