The Eagles won big, Carson Wentz was fantastic in his first career start and Doug Pederson called one heckuva game in his debut. Everything is dandy in Eaglesland after one game, and while sports talk radio and all the local TV stations (and some national outlets, let’s be honest) will be waist deep in Wentzamania this week, there are some other things that happened on Sunday people will be talking about too.
Sure, we hopped on the Wentz Wagon too, calling his debut a career day (most people got the joke) and extolling the rookie’s successes. Pederson commented after the game that he wasn’t surprised with how Wentz handled the moment, saying, “this is his DNA. He prepared like he was a five-or-six year veteran and he obviously played that way.”
But Wentz wasn’t the only one on the field, and with an extra day between Sunday’s win and next Monday’s match-up with the Bears in Chicago, there are certainly some other things people will be talking about this week.
With that, here are seven things you can share with your friends, family and colleagues — feel free to copy and past into your social channel of choice — to sound like an Eagle genius today.
‘But it was the Browns.’
If you want to throw some cold water on the Eagles win on Sunday, just drop those five words into Slack or Twitter this morning.
It was just the Browns, one of only two teams in Vegas with worse odds to win the Super Bowl than the Eagles. But that’s precisely the reason Pederson went with Wentz to start the season. Obviously he couldn’t say that before the game, but there were only two options for starting Wentz once the team traded Sam Bradford: against Cleveland in Week 1 or at Detroit in Week 5 after the bye. Cleveland is terrible, so starting him now made sense.
The Eagles play at Chicago on Monday Night Football next week, so if Chase Daniel struggled or, heaven forbid, they actually lost to the Browns, installing Wentz on the road in prime time would be tough. The week after that, Philly hosts Pittsburgh, and that’s just crazy to give a rookie his first start against the Steelers.
So why not start the kid against the worst team in the league? It made perfect sense, and was validated by the result.
‘Smile, baby. They won!’
‘Jordan Matthews looks great. Who needs pre-season?’
This is a great pitch and catch.
Matthews, who missed all four pre-season games after getting hurt in training camp, was electric at times on Sunday, catching seven balls for 114 yards and that score. Pederson credited his time on the sidelines with Wentz, who was also injured for much of pre-season, giving the tandem a chance to gel on the sidelines with pitch and catch sessions.
“Carson came out and put the ball in a lot of great places where he had to,” Matthews told reporters after the win. “Specifically my touchdown catch and Nelson [Agholor]’s, you can’t throw those any better. He’s putting those right where they needed to be.”
Matthews called his outing “an alright day,” while pointing out he made some mistakes, as did Wentz, reminding people it was just one game. “This wasn’t the Super Bowl. We got to put this behind us and get ready for Chicago.”
In order to get to know Wentz better off the field, Matthews said he listened to Wentz’s favorite album by Jason Aldean. Then he made Wentz listen to Kanye’s Graduation so Wentz could start to understand him, too.
How is there not video of this?!?
‘Wentz would have been even better without all the drops.’
The Eagles did have too many drops on Sunday. Matthews had a few, as did Darren Sproles, one of which would have extended a drive in the red zone that led to a field goal instead of a potential touchdown.
The Eagles led the league in drops last season, something that needs to be corrected as the team faces better defenses this year.
‘Doug Pederson went for it on fourth down. Maybe he’s NOT Andy Reid 2.0!’
Pederson called a great game, most notably going for it on fourth-and-four in the third quarter, as Wentz hit Zach Ertz for a first down one play before the 35-yard touchdown toss to Nelson Agholor, which put the first nail in the Browns’ coffin. After the game, Pederson talked about going for it on fourth down there, saying the math involved — field position difference if they don’t convert as opposed to punting, the score and time of the game, etc. — made it the right call.
When asked about the decision, Wentz said, “I was pretty excited that he had the faith in me to call the 4th-and-4 play and put us in that situation.”
It was a bit unexpected, given Pederson’s history with Andy Reid. Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs tied for last in fourth-down attempts with just nine in 16 games, with 15 fewer attempts than the league leaders. In 2014, KC had 12, which ranked 21st in the league, ahead of Chip Kelly and Philly by one.
Ironic, perhaps, but Reid and the Chiefs went for it twice on fourth down on Sunday, successfully converting on both.
‘The defense needs to be better.’ (AKA… ‘remember, it was just the Browns.’)
The Eagles defense held the Browns to 10 points, 14 first downs and 288 net yards, while causing two fumbles, forcing one, and picking off one RGIII pass. But (say it with me) this was the Browns, and it took until the third quarter for the Eagles to get their first sack of the season. The Birds finished the game with just five QB hurries, even after pinning their ears back as the Browns abandoned the run for much of the second half.
The secondary looked lost on a few deep passes as well, and the front seven allowed 120 rushing yards on just 21 carries — five for 37 yards from RGIII — which gives Jim Schwartz a few big things to work on before facing Chicago.
‘The future is now! Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are everything.’
The Eagles have great fans, but there wasn’t a single person at the Linc more exciting to see than these two.
Simmons even had fans excited for what might be during the game.
If Simmons ran on the field, he would instantly become the Eagles best receiver. Have you seen his hands? That guy’s not dropping any balls.
Eagles season just started in a big way, and everyone is talking about Wentz this week, but we’re not the only ones excited for Sixers season.
What a time to be a Philly sports fan.