The Carson Wentz-Doug Pederson era has begun with a bang in Philly. The Eagles, led by their rookie QB, defeated the Browns 29-10 in Philadelphia Sunday afternoon. In his first NFL game, the second overall pick posted a stat line of 22-37, with 278 yards and 2 touchdowns. Most importantly, Wentz did not throw an interception. Wentz looked like a 9 year veteran in this start, picking apart the Cleveland Browns defense and rarely making mistakes. In fact, more the Eagles’ mistakes came from the receiving core, dropping passes and running their routes incorrectly.
That being said, Wentz wasn’t the only Eagles offensive weapon who had a productive day. After a bumpy preseason, Jordan Matthews showed up big time Sunday, hauling in 7 receptions for 114 yards and he caught Wentz’s first career touchdown pass (which was also the first touchdown of the 2016 NFL season). He did drop the first pass thrown his way, showing his need for improvement. Ryan Mathews, the oft-injured Eagles starting running back; also put together a pretty nice game, with 22 carries for 77 yards and the game-sealing touchdown. The Eagles showed their transformation from a Chip Kelly team to a Doug Pederson team, as they almost doubled up the Browns on time of possession, holding the ball for almost 40 minutes, and scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, whereas under Kelly, the Eagles couldn’t manage to score on their opening drive until Week 9 last year and were dead last in terms of average time of possession last year.
The Birds also benefitted from a great defensive performance, indicative of Jim Schwartz’s influence on the team. They were aggressive; they got off the field on 3rd down, and got after Robert Griffin III on a regular basis, accounting for 3 sacks and 5 quarterback hits. Newly acquired free agent safety Rodney McLeod also intercepted Griffin, which halted the momentum the Browns gained after scoring their only touchdown on an awful pass interference penalty called on Malcolm Jenkins.
The game generated extra buzz due to comments made by Browns GM Paul DePodesta regarding Wentz, saying the Browns did not feel he was a top 20 quarterback in the league. The Eagles traded a number of draft picks to the Browns in order to move up from their draft position to draft Wentz second overall, after the Los Angeles Rams moved up to select California QB Jared Goff first overall in this year’s draft. Goff will be inactive for Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles travel to Chicago to play the Bears on Monday Night Football next week.