The Eagles officially started the preseason Thursday night with a 17-9 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that had twice as many turnovers (6) as touchdowns (3). It was bad football, but it was football, and fans packed the hot and muggy Linc to see the Eagles, and rookie Carson Wentz, for the first time this year.
If you didn’t watch the game — too focused on the U.S. dominance in gymnastics and swimming down in Rio, or just refused to watch preseason football no matter who is throwing the passes — we don’t blame you.
We watched preseason football so you didn’t have to.
Now, if you find yourself at the office water cooler (let’s face it, that means Slack) and everyone is squawking about the Birds today, here are a few talking points for you to sprinkle into the conversation. Feel free to copy, paste and sound like an Eagles genius.
“Were you at the Linc last night? Hot enough for you?”
This could be a conversation starter with anyone, even, gulp, face to face. People in real life always love to talk about the weather, and it was a hot one last night. Too hot for football.
“Wentz!” Or perhaps more aptly, “Wentz?”
Fans, and media, were very excited about the debut of Carson Wentz, who was reportedly going to start the second half, but was thrust into the game for a two-minute drill at the end of the first half.
Wentz made some nice throws and scrambled more than a rookie should have to (more on that in a bit), finishing the night 12-for-24 for 89 yards with an interception. But his entrance was electric, and his first completion as an Eagle was pretty nifty too.
“It was fun,” Wentz told reporters after the game. “It was fun. First opportunity I had I’m running the two-minute drill. I enjoyed that. I hadn’t had a ton of reps of it in practice but it was fun out there. I finally got to take some hits, it’s been a while since that’s happened, so overall I had a lot of fun out there. Definitely some things to improve on, for myself and as a team, but overall it was enjoyable.”
Here’s every throw the rookie had in the game, courtesy of the NFL’s Twitter. The theme of the night was “high.”
“Chase Daniel, you are not the man. Go hold a clipboard.”
It’s only been one game, but this tetra-headed quarterback system is not going to go well. Remember, Chase Daniel was brought in to be a bridge for Doug Pederson’s offense, but also because Sam Bradford is always hurt, and at the time the Eagles hadn’t yet mortgaged multiple drafts to trade up to get Wentz. Daniel was supposed to be an important part of the offense. But now, he’s the guy in the way of the guy we want.
After scoring an early touchdown with his legs, Daniel settled in for the remainder of the first half and was, well, terrible.
Most of Daniel’s struggles were because of the offensive line (again, we’re getting there) but Daniel didn’t show anything that would excite Eagles fans, even when he did have space and time.
Not dressing Wentz on game days so Daniel can be the backup is going to be what turns the city against Doug Pederson if the season starts slowly. It’s clear already. Just look at some of these comments, and feel free to copy and paste the most obvious:
“Carson Wentz is already better than Chase Daniel.”
“Who is going to catch the ball for this team other than Zach Ertz?”
Daniel wasn’t good, and Wentz wasn’t great, missing a few open passes as he continues to let the game slow down for him, but the dropped passes are unacceptable.
You would die. By halftime.
“Nelson Agholor. SMDH.” Or, simply, “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
The worst night at the skill positions seemed to go to 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor, who had zero catches on two targets against the Bucs, struggling to get open and really struggling to block on a screen that led game analyst Mike Mayock of NFL Network to simply say, “That’s awful.”
“We haven’t mentioned the name Nelson Agholor yet. Agholor has got to show the talent that made him a first round pick. We haven’t seen it yet.”
Then this happened:
If you’re listening to sports talk radio today, expect a ton of Wentz talk, but don’t be surprised if a good portion of the conversation is about the team’s lack of elite talent at wide receiver.
“The Eagles offensive line is going to be an issue.”
Lane Johnson could be suspended for 10 games, and Doug Pederson did address that after the game, telling reporters he hasn’t talked specifically to Johnson about it — not talking to players who have off-field issues has been an early staple in how Pederson handles things, which is odd — but Pederson did admit he is thinking of a Plan B.
There is no Plan B. The backups aren’t very good.
And so on…
The Eagles had 95 passing yards and 92 rushing yards against Tampa Bay. Sure, a few short fields on scoring drives early kept those numbers low, but considering they ended up winning the time of possession battle, having under 200 yards of offense is atrocious. Daniel and Wentz were under pressure a ton, sacked four times and hurried a lot more.
On top of that, the Eagles got a scare early when their already paper thin line took another blow, as Brandon Brooks left to get evaluated in the locker room with what was reportedly a biceps injury. He tweeted that he will be fine.
The rest of the offensive line may not be, though, health notwithstanding, so just keep this “the Eagles offensive line is going to be an issue” comment handy. Make a keyboard shortcut for it. Perhaps a Slackbot too. You’ll probably be saying a lot this season.