Secure your belongings.
We’re about to ride the Eagles Time Machine (clever name, huh?) for a look back at the Philadelphia Eagles’ season opener from 2016. There will be memories — some fond, some sour. There will be nostalgia. There may be tears (I told you some of the memories were sour).
Most of all, though, I think you’ll catch a glimpse at just how much can change in a year’s time. As Opening Day 2017 rolls closer and the Birds try again not to make Kirk Cousins look like a fourth-quarter genius, allow yourself to be awed by the past:
Insert dreamy harp sound effect.
Carson Wentz is still a relatively new face in Philadelphia. He captivated our summer — and put the beeping tones of MGMT’s “Kids” in our heads — as the star of a nerdy, vintage trick-shot video from high school, not to mention the first young quarterback to draw such a sizable investment from the Eagles since the days of Donovan McNabb. But he’s still a new face. A pillar, perhaps, of Midwestern college football lore from the FCS dynasty that is North Dakota State University, but just a nice, scholarly and still-unfamiliar face in the City of Brotherly Love.
Oh, and the face of the Eagles’ Opening Day starting quarterback.
No worries. Nothing outshines him in his first action under the light of the Philadelphia sun. Not the post-Chip Kelly debut of Doug Pederson — yes, the same Doug Pederson who quarterbacked ahead of McNabb at the start of 1999 and the same Doug Pederson who, a few years earlier, was an offensive quality control coach under Andy Reid. Not the post-Bill Davis (remember him?) debut of Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator. Not even the violent tinge of orange or the distracting pants lettering on the Cleveland Browns uniforms.
Wentz’s second pass of Week One, a mere eight days after presumed No. 1 Sam Bradford was shipped to the Minnesota Vikings, ends with a one-handed grab courtesy of Zach Ertz.
His fifth goes for six, a perfect loft to Jordan Matthews in the back of the end zone. And a 35-yarder to Nelson Agholor, who streaks past an outmatched Joe Haden, comes a quarter later, igniting the Lincoln Financial Field crowd and setting into motion weeks worth of premature, albeit understandable, talk of an early favorite emerging for Offensive Rookie of the Year — perhaps even MVP.
With the scores, of course, also comes the first-ever rendition of “The Handshake,” a classy composition from Matthews and his new QB.
Wentz gets help that afternoon from a myriad of others.
Kenjon Barner and Ryan Mathews combine for 119 yards on the ground. The latter all but somersaults his way through the air for a late score, and mammoth teammate Jason Peters stops him from falling on his head in the end zone.
Rodney McLeod, meanwhile, snags a tipped pass for an interception in his first game in green, redeeming himself from a mistimed deep ball to Terrelle Pryor that he and Nolan Carroll failed to prevent. Caleb Sturgis nails his final two field goals after sending his first wide right — and getting mixed signals from the refs. Connor Barwin logs one of three sacks on Robert Griffin III, whose attempt to truck Jalen Mills on a fourth-quarter run toward the sideline leaves him with a fractured shoulder.
Bennie Logan wraps up a Browns ball carrier on the final play from scrimmage, and the Eagles move to 1-0 with a 29-10 decision, reaffirming their spot in the national spotlight and catapulting themselves toward a 3-0 start.
Among the victorious Eagles on the afternoon: QB Chase Daniel, WR Josh Huff (3 targets), Dorial Green-Beckham (2 catches), CB Ron Brooks, DE Marcus Smith, OLB Bryan Braman.
The scoring summary:
Eagles TD (J. Matthews 19-yard pass from C. Wentz; PAT by C. Sturgis) PHI 7 CLE 0
Eagles FG (22-yard by C. Sturgis) PHI 10 CLE 0
Browns TD (2-yard run by I. Crowell; PAT by P. Murray) PHI 10 CLE 7
Eagles FG (38-yard by C. Sturgis) PHI 13 CLE 7
Browns FG (35-yard by P. Murray) PHI 13 CLE 10
Eagles safety PHI 15 CLE 10
Eagles TD (N. Agholor 35-yard pass from C. Wentz; PAT by C. Sturgis) PHI 22 CLE 10
Eagles TD (1-yard run by R. Matthews; PAT by C. Sturgis) PHI 29 CLE 10