The Eagles defeated the Bears 29-14 on Monday Night Football to improve to 2-0. As in any game, there’s more to the game than just the score. And the score was pretty good.
Again, duh, they won. But once again, it’s more than just that they won. It’s that they were in control of the game in the second half that is highly encouraging. There is an old adage that good teams play other good teams closely but consistently beat up on bad teams. The Browns and the Bears aren’t good teams, but the Eagles have beat them up. They lead the league in point differential and in the fourth quarter of each game they were in complete control. That’s a very good sign.
Another week, another impressive performance even if not grading on a curve. Again he made multiple “wow” throws, though this time they unfortunately didn’t count, for reasons beyond his control. Jordan Matthews dropped a gift at the 1 yard line, and another outstanding throw by Wentz was negated by a Jason Kelce penalty. The number of QBs who make those throws week in and week out is significantly less than 32. Wentz played better than his 21/34 190 yards 1 TD performance, which by the numbers wasn’t bad for a rookie’s first road game anyway. And it wasn’t just the numbers or the throws, he looked in command of the team. He’s got some things to clean up as all rookies do, but it’s hard to not be impressed so far.
Full list of rookie QBs since 1970 to start & win team's 1st 2 games of season without throwing an INT:— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) September 20, 2016
That's it. pic.twitter.com/RzPY7XGLsl
At times he got too cute with the play calling in the first half, but for his second straight game Pederson showed an aggressiveness that is, at least early on, separating him from the pack of game day coaches. Like last week, after a stale second quarter he got the team out of neutral in the second half, and he went for it on 4th down rather than attempting a long FG, doing so on the opening possession. Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a trend. The Steelers might be the best team the Eagles face all season, Pederson’s aggression might really be tested next week. So far though, he’s done a strong job with in-game decisions and adjustments.
A favorite of the BGN staff since joining the Eagles as an UDFA in 2014, Burton had a coming out party in his first game with real action as a tight end. Filling in for the injured Zach Ertz, Burton caught 5 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. The more weapons Carson Wentz has the better, but with Burton filling in for Ertz, the Eagles are in good hands, figuratively and literally.
For the second game in a row, Nelson Agholor looked like a legitimate NFL wide receiver. He’s got a long way to go to be good, but after being one of the worst WRs in the NFL last year, he looks like he belongs out there. That’s a huge improvement.
For the second game in a row the Eagles defense started off sluggish, but got better as the game improved. Alshon Jeffery and Eagles killer Eddie Royal hurt a wounded secondary early, but Schwartz and his players adjusted and again dominated in the second half of the game. They’ve knocked out the starter in successive games, and are averaging 8.5 points against after two games. It’s not how you start it’s how you finish, and the Eagles defense has given up just 3 points in the second half of games so far.
Cutler gets a bad rap overall, but tonight he didn’t do himself any favors. He turned the ball over twice and exited the game with an injury after the MNF crew couldn’t stop talking about how he didn’t finish the 2010 NFC Championship Game.
Kelce had by his own admission an awful year last season, and the hope was that with a new offense and just by it being a different season, that Kelce would rebound. So far, he hasn’t. He got pushed around by Danny Shelton in Week 1, and the natural defense of Kelce was that he has always struggled against DTs who are roughly the size of a vending machine. But against the Bears he again struggled, missing blocks and committing a penalty that wiped out a big play by Carson Wentz. There’s still time for Kelce to bounce back, but so far it’s looking like 2015 wasn’t a mirage.
The Browns lost three times this week. On Sunday they lost to the Ravens after jumping out to a 20-2 lead. In the process they lost another QB when Josh McCown left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury. And on Monday night they took the L when Carson Wentz, who they don’t think will be a good QB, once again had a good performance. New Browns starter Cody Kessler will lead them to a high pick, but they better hope they don’t finish behind a team that needs a QB and takes the guy they want. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and the Browns are still out in the bushes looking for a franchise QB.
The Rams might have won on Sunday, but Jared Goff didn’t play because Jeff Fisher thinks Case Keenum is better. That’s another reason why Wentz is a winner: he’s not coached by Jeff Fisher.