The Eagles beat the Browns 29-10 to open the season with good feelings. Here’s 10 things we learned from the season opener.
1 Carson Wentz looks pretty good
It was just one game, and it was against an awful defense, but Carson Wentz showed why the Eagles traded up to get him and were ready to trade Sam Bradford and start him. Wentz showed perfect arm strength and touch on both his touchdown passes, and also had some other impressive throws, such as a his first pass to Zach Ertz, where he placed the ball where either Ertz would catch it or no one would. And his audible that resulted in a 28 yard pass to Jordan Matthews was a great job of presnap recognition.
2 Carson Wentz needs some work
As exciting as his touchdown passes were, there is still work to be done with Wentz. He took an unnecessary sack that backed up an already long field goal attempt, and he took more than his fair share of hits. Wentz was always going to be a project, it’s important to remember that there is bad to be taken with the good in his rookie season.
3 Doug Pederson may not be Andy Reid 2.0
The Eagles hired Doug Pederson with the hopes of reliving the good times of the Andy Reid era. In one aspect, that was terrifying: Andy Reid is abysmal with clock management. Pederson however wasn’t. He didn’t take his first time out until after the 2 minute warning, and his first time out of the 2nd half came with less than 7 minutes to go in the game. And late in the game he preserved the lead by simply handing the ball off rather than substituting short passes for runs. A very encouraging sign.
4 Jordan Matthews is probably going to have a big year
The Eagles have one reliable wide receiver and Carson Wentz was not afraid to go to him early and often. Wentz’s first attempt was to Matthews, which he dropped, but then caught 7 passes for 114 yards, his 6th and 4th most in his career for a single game. It would be surprising if either of those were season highs.
5 The offensive line is still a work in progress
The Eagles offensive line was much maligned last year, awful at running the ball and mediocre at pass protection. The run blocking looked better, especially compared to last year’s embarrassing season opener. Statistically it wasn’t improved, with just 3.9 yards per carry, but when the Eagles needed to chew up clock in the 4th quarter, they ate up clock and put the game away with a late touchdown. That’s a big improvement from 2015. But the pass protection was lacking. Wentz’s mobility is going to make the line look worse than it is, but there were too many times where Wentz was under pressure in the pocket. If and when Lane Johnson is suspended, it could get ugly.
6 So is DGB
Dorial Green-Beckham rarely saw the field, catching 2 passes for 14 yards. The Eagles gave him limited packages to appear in to focus his preparation, and as a result he spent most of the game on the sideline. It’ll probably be a few weeks before we see him in the regular offense.
7 Nelson Agholor looked like a real WR
It was one play, but Agholor’s touchdown was silky smooth. He ran a precise route and showed good speed and beat Joe Haden, who’s pretty good. He looked a bit like the guy that he was drafted to be. Maybe there’s hope.
8 The secondary didn’t look so good
The starting corners got burned a few times. It’s hard to blame Nolan Carroll too much for the 44 yard pass he gave up to Terrelle Pryor, but the 58 yard catch by Coleman wasn’t pretty. The ball was underthrown and none of the three defenders near him were able to get to it. Browns receivers were able to get behind the secondary a few more times but were bailed out by RGIII missing the target, most notably on an overthrow to Andrew Hawkins in the end zone. The defense played great in the 2nd half, but the decision to trade Eric Rowe looks a little more curious after a shaky start.
9 Special teams are still good
If you had any concerns about the Eagles special teams dropping off with Chip Kelly gone, they don’t appear to have suffered. Donnie Jones gave them a few opportunities to pin the Browns inside the 10, which they did once, downing the ball at the 1. The Browns fake punt never had a chance, Darren Sproles had a 40 yard punt return and the Browns never even tried to return a kickoff.
10 Cleveland look like fools
There was hope that a fresh start in Cleveland would rejuvenate RGIII. It didn’t. Griffin still has his wheels, but he was inaccurate on many of his throws and looked lost at times. If only they had put a top 20 grade on Carson Wentz.
Their loss, figuratively and literally.