2-0! Through two games, the Eagles have taken care of business against inferior teams and shown flashes of the future in the process. It’s been a fun, magical start to the season, which is already a success since the only thing that mattered after trading Sam Bradford was finding out if Carson Wentz is the franchise quarterback the Eagles hoped when drafting him. He is exactly that, and we’re in the infancy of a long run of competitive, relevant football in Philadelphia.



Carson Wentz

Wentz shined in front of a national audience under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. His superficial numbers weren’t exactly impressive: 21-34, 190 yards, 1 touchdown, but factoring the over 80 yards in drops bumps Wentz’s YPA from a meager 5.6 to a robust 8.0+ (and would’ve resulted in another two touchdowns). He was better than the numbers last night and, yet again, didn’t even come close to throwing an interception or otherwise turning the ball over (only quarterback since the 1970 merger to achieve this feat in his first two games). In fact the offense still has no turnovers, period! As is going to be a weekly occurrence, Wentz made some absolutely absurd throws that had you jumping out of your seat, with three standing out in particular:


Standing tall in the pocket on third down and, while taking a hit, delivering a strike to a crossing Trey Burton (his second third down conversion of the drive) near the sideline on the second-to-last drive of the first half. So impressive.


Making an ill-advised, NO NO YES, ridiculous across-his-body bullet throw to Nelson Agholor in a miniscule window of three defenders at midfield that maybe five quarterbacks in the NFL have the arm strength-talent-confidence combo to make. Whoa. I see you, Carson.


Gorgeous bucket throw inside the pylon to Matthews at the end of the first half that should have been a touchdown. All three of these came within a five-play span on the final drive of the first half, by the way.

For the second straight game, Wentz was unfazed by the moment, mature and poised beyond his years, and commanded the offense with ease. Those way smarter than I will tell you that today’s NFL is won and lost pre-snap. Wentz already excels there by recognizing blitzes, making checks and audibling with aplomb. He is still locking onto his first read and throwing it there no matter what too often for my liking, but he’s also shown that he can go through his progressions and be patient enough to let plays develop. On the negative, Wentz has to better protect his body and not expose himself to unnecessary hits outside the pocket, of which there were at least three or four that had us all holding our breath, if he hopes to make it through the season. I want to see him run forward (not sideways) when he tucks and slide to avoid contact (as he proved capable of doing in preseason). Since Chase Daniel is the backup, it’d be nice if Wentz could oblige us all and do his best to not get himself killed on the field. Throw the ball away, slide, get out of bounds. Self preservation, my man. Third down is also an area that needs improvement, though I’m slowly becoming convinced Wentz just has a flare for the dramatic and would rather convert on fourth down since it’s way more badass.

Side note: The offense starting the game by going with an empty backfield on the first six plays appears to have been essentially decided on the sidelines last Sunday. Fast forward to 4:13 of the “Mic’d Up” video below.


Doug Pederson, aka Cool Dad

The “Mic’d Up” video provides a nice segue here. Doug’s a ballsy stud. He’s been such a pleasant surprise so far and is an early candidate for best offseason coaching hire. There are some gripes I have, particularly with certain personnel decisions and an over-reliance on Darren Sproles as a ball carrier, but they’re nitpicky. Overall, Pederson’s play-calling and decision-making have both been superb, as has his timeout (none wasted in eight quarters, though obviously the credit is shared with Carson for being a pre-snap wizard) and time management. He’s also shown the ability to learn from one play to the next and not be so proud to the danger of being stubborn (i.e. getting stuffed on the stupid handoff to Sproles on 4th and Goal from the 1 and then running the fake jet sweep misdirection pitch for the icing touchdown when he got an offsides mulligan). His awareness, decisiveness and conviction are most refreshing, and I hope the aggressiveness on fourth down continues.


Time of Possession

Eagles currently lead the league in time of possession, something I’ve always dreamed about but never thought I would experience. Against the Bears they were dominant once again with 36-plus minutes, and, hey wouldn’t you know it, the defense benefited too because it was fresh and got stronger as the game went on. Of all the garbage I tried to convince myself of during the Chip Kelly era, lemming(ing?) my way into accepting that time of possession and ball control didn’t actually matter makes me most ashamed.



The tone was set early by forcing a three-and-out that featured a safety blitz off the edge in which Malcolm Jenkins unleashed his inner Brian Dawkins on Jay Cutler. Aside from back-to-back drives spanning the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter in which the Bears gained 127 yards on 14 plays (including 31-, 22- and 49-yarders), the Eagles defense was a stifling swarm of humanity that forced three turnovers (should’ve had a pick-six), allowed just a single touchdown (again) and knocked out the starting quarterback (again). The Bears gained 157 yards on their other 33 snaps.

I also felt the defense provided the turning point when it forced a three-and-out after the Bears, leading 7-3, got the ball at the Eagles’ 48 yard line and were looking for a kill shot following a three-and-out in which the sputtering offense penalized itself into going backwards (thanks to Jason Kelce, as you’ll read later). Following that punt, Wentz and the offense got it together and marched 77 yards down the field for a field goal to stop the bleeding and cut the lead to 7-6.

Brandon Graham, who’s had the oddest yet perhaps most endearing career of any Philadelphia athlete in recent memory, was a one-man wrecking crew. Jordan Hicks was everywhere and recovered another fumble (on Destiny Vaeao’s tremendous second-effort, first-career sack) because that’s what he does. Nigel Bradham had the pick-should’ve-been-six. Jalen Mills had a couple rough goes with Alshon Jeffery early (as was expected) but bounced back, made some nice tackles in the open field and played like he belongs.


Trey Burton

I have to do this. He took his career receptions total from three to eight with a five-catch, 49-yard performance and added his first touchdown (could’ve had two or three) as well on a beautifully-designed tight end bubble screen at the goal line to effectively put the game out of reach. Burton’s first two catches were critical third-down conversions (on the aforementioned drive shown in the Wentz clips) that resulted in a field goal to make the score 7-6. He has the best hands on the team and, in my opinion, is a better option in the passing game than Zach Ertz. Get ready for a lot more.


Josh Huff, the punt coverage gunner

Definitely deserves praise. Huff was excellent covering punts all night, including one where he forced a fair catch despite no other Eagles being within the same zip code of the returner.




Dearest Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor,



Running game (excluding Wentz’s scrambles)

It got untracked in the second half to the tune of 10 carries for 69 yards (including a 30-yard scamper by Ryan Mathews) and two touchdowns, but the first half saw running backs accumulate a paltry 17 yards on eight totes and it was basically a wasted down each time. Having Sproles lead the team in carries is also suboptimal. I will say, however, that it was nice to see Wendell Smallwood get a few touches and make the most of them. I’m looking forward to his increased involvement in the offense moving forward since no one is taking a stranglehold of the job. On the whole, the Eagles are averaging 3.9 YPC on carries by running backs (222 yards on 57 attempts) and have yet to establish any kind of rhythm or identity with the ground game.


Third-down conversions

The Eagles went 3-for-15 (20%) on third down and rank 28th in the league through two games with a 28.7% conversion rate. The good news is they’re 100% on fourth down conversions! The bad news is that’s not sustainable and the former will have to improve significantly.


Lack of explosiveness

Obviously this is hurt by the drops, but in general it feels like there’s a missing dynamic, vertical, big play component to this offense (which averaged a lowly 4.1 yards per play last night). They want Agholor to be that guy.



Jason Kelce

Reaching/already at a crisis level here with one of the most beloved Eagles. Kelce, who turns 29 next month, has been trending down since 2014 and was flat-out terrible last season. Through two games in 2016, the arrow is continuing to nosedive. Hard. Last night he couldn’t handle Eddie Goldman up front, was blown off the line/put on roller blades constantly and committed two straight penalties that ruined a drive before it could even start.

I don’t think it’ll happen because of sentimentality and the off-field value Kelce brings to the locker room and community, but cutting him next offseason only results in $2.4M of dead cap space ($1.2M in 2018). Actually, maybe it does happen. The front office drafted Isaac Seumalo, after all.


Eddie Royal’s punt return touchdown

Excessively annoying rather than ugly. Royal always bones us and I hate him. Whatever, didn’t end up mattering.


(Edit: Can’t believe I forgot…) 

This somehow not being defensive pass interference

Get fucked, refs. Way, way less is called on a routine basis and not turning to look for the ball is an automatic flag. What a joke (even though Agholor should’ve made the catch anyway).


Next up: Battle of Pennsylvania and the first real REAL real measuring stick test of the season.


Lastly, I want to take a moment to acknowledge Tom Reynolds, who went by @tombrodude on Twitter and tragically passed away over the weekend. He was not only a uniquely gifted comedic genius but also a kind, warm and caring soul who’d go out of his way to help people he’d never even met. All his tweets were gold, but for the purpose of this topic, do yourself a favor and search his handle along with the keywords “Eagles,” “football” and “sports.” The world is a worse and far less funny place without him. Rest easy, Bro Dude.