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15 Eagles observations and a game-by-game notebook

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There’s lots to digest as Philly prepares for Kansas City.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know about you, but it’s almost hard to believe the Philadelphia Eagles played a real game — you know, one that actually counts — just days ago.

That’s what the months-long offseason slog will do, I suppose. You get so accustomed to waiting around for another year to kick off that you can hardly comprehend the annual September revival when it arrives. But now that we’re here, now that things are happening, there’s no slowing it down. So let’s get right to it.

First, I’ve got 15 observations on the Birds through that one real game of 2017 (because who doesn’t want another list?). And then I’ll present the first edition of a running notebook, a game-by-game log, of the season — a tool meant to keep every step of the 2017 campaign fresh in your mind in abbreviated fashion ... and satisfy my inner journalistic desire to document things.

The 15 observations:

  1. Carson Wentz is for real. Maybe it’s because he has as much, if not more, poise than proven production, but even as an eternal optimist, I’ve never been so quick to believe in a young quarterback. Something says he’s always going to be something of a gunslinger, but if that’s what he is, for good and bad, it’s the closest, most thrilling thing to a franchise quarterback this team has had for years.
  2. Zach Ertz is for real, too. Numbers don’t lie with him. We like to nitpick, and he’s had some slow starts early in the year, but his reliability shouldn’t be taken for granted.
  3. It doesn’t feel like the Eagles scored 30 points against Washington. Why is that? Maybe because there were some hiccups. Maybe because the score was close for a while. In any case, I think it’s a good thing that Week One didn’t seem like a rout and yet the team still got into the 30s.
  4. Secret confession: I don’t mind when Doug Pederson goes heavy on the passing calls. And this is mainly because Wentz not only is good with a capital “G” but knows how to extend plays. Yes, yes, the lack of a running game is a legitimate issue that needs to be solved, but in the ideal world, I still think Doug dials up a game plan that’s heavy on aerial action. Have I seen too many Andy Reid games?
  5. We should all be able to say this after just one game: Torrey Smith is still a burner.
  6. Also, I don’t think this was a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but I think we could’ve seen more effort from Torrey Smith on the backward-pass fumble in the Washington game. That early on, you always want to see all-out effort.
  7. As far as effort goes, Rodney McLeod looks more like his fearless early-2016 self so far.
  8. This has been noted by others, but if there was one defensive back who surprised with a quiet Week One outing (“quiet” as in “not in trouble”), it was a rock-solid Patrick Robinson. You’ve got to hope he’s got more of that in him against Kansas City.
  9. Speaking of surprises, the white-on-white uniforms for Opening Day weren’t too shabby. But I can’t help but think, even for you Kelly green advocates, that it’s always nice to see the main color, the midnight green, show up somewhere. The Eagles are green. Let’s see it.
  10. Even in limited snaps, Mychal Kendricks still looked like a play-maker vs. Washington.
  11. It’s way too early to forecast what’ll play out over the course of the season, but does anyone in the NFC East really scare you? I mean, Dallas didn’t exactly light it up on a night that New York was wildly incompetent.
  12. This goes without saying, but this Chiefs game should tell us a lot about the Eagles. Road game. An opponent with extra rest and a head coach who knows Pederson. Lots of reasons K.C. should have the edge.
  13. If Jim Schwartz’s front four gets anywhere near as much push against a K.C. O-line as it did in Week One, it should bail out the secondary. The Chiefs’ blockers aren’t nearly as heralded, either.
  14. Still, if Kansas City’s weapons don’t scare you a little, what sport are you watching? A lineup that includes Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce can be dynamic.
  15. Not going to lie. Kareem Hunt would look sweet as an Eagle. I know Marcus Peters is the popular answer as a Chiefs player who most fits Philly’s needs, and I know Hunt has just one game under his belt, but it seems like it’s been a long time since the Eagles had a No. 1 back with that much change-of-direction ability.

The game-by-game notebook:

Week One: Eagles 30, Redskins 17: Year Two of the Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson regime started with the Birds ending a five-game losing streak to the Redskins at FedEx Field, where Jim Schwartz’s front-four rotation led the way. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan combined for four sacks and two forced fumbles, the second of which was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Cox, sealing a two-score, fourth-quarter lead. After fellow cornerback Ronald Darby was carted off with an injury, Jalen Mills also aided an Eagles “D” that gave up just 64 rushing yards and three third-down conversions, intercepting Kirk Cousins on a red-zone pass when the ‘Skins trailed by two. With uneven protection and a non-existent running game, Wentz (26-39, 307 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INTs) was the victim of a Ryan Kerrigan pick six but channeled his inner Donovan McNabb on an opening-drive scramble and 58-yard TD heave to Nelson Agholor, then extended plays with tight end Zach Ertz (8 receptions, 93 yards) to set up three Caleb Sturgis field goals and a Gatorade bath for Pederson.


A final note: Here’s a shout out to Jim Pfizenmayer, who won our Wilbert Montgomery jersey giveaway. Jim (@jimpfiz) sent me this on Twitter, unprompted, the other day, so I thought I’d share. He sure looks good in the jersey, and he did some killer work on the sign. (If you do want to buy the book, by the way, it’s still discounted.)