First and 10: Wentz Wows in Cameo as Eagles Lose Preseason Opener
(973espn.com) - First ...the scoreboard wasn't ideal but Carson Wentz was and that's why the Eagles' 24-9 loss at Green Bay in the preseason opener should ultimately be deemed a success.
In an atmosphere based solely on evaluation with no game-planning, the second-year quarterback was just about perfect in a cameo appearance, finishing 4 for 4 for 56 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown to Mack Hollins in which the rookie wideout used his impressive size to break two tackles en route to the end zone.
More important than the numbers, however, was the fact that Wentz extended plays and kept his eyes downfield despite Dom Capers blitzing like it was Week 1 of the regular season.
AND 10 TAKEAWAYS...
-The Eagles were very sloppy and ball security is certainly going to be emphasized by Doug Pederson this week as rookies Donnel Pumphrey, Billy Brown and Greg Ward, as well as Trey Burton, put the football on the ground.
-Philadelphia's running game was virtually non-existent against the Green Bay defense as 19 attempts netted only 47 yards, 15 of those on scrambles by Matt McGloin and Dane Evans. Needless to say, that needs to improve moving forward and Pederson again defaulted to the pass far too easily with McGloin throwing it 42 times. You down want Wentz dropping back 600 times this season so this was not exactly a positive first step from that perspective.
-Nelson Agholor's strong spring and summer evaporated quickly as the receiver let a Wentz fastball go right through his hands on a two-point conversion attempt. The football was coming in hot and a little high but good receivers catch that pass rather easily.
-The Eagles have been using Agholor consistently on the jet sweep in practice and broke it out tonight but it lost a yard when Zach Ertz missed his block. Ertz is a great receiver but he's not exactly Mark Bavaro when it comes to blocking.
-The much-maligned starting cornerbacks were exceptional. Jalen Mills is playing with a lot of confidence and Patrick Robinson was very active while on the field. Of course, it was against Brett Hundley and not Aaron Rodgers but you can only evaluate them against who they were playing against and each had a passing grade tonight.
-The same can't be said for C.J. Smith, who has a terrible series in the second quarter getting beat by Geronimo Allison on a slant before biting on a double move by Jeff Janis that resulted in a 20-yard TD. Smith showed mental toughness from there, however, and nearly had a pick six of Joe Callahan late in the third quarter.
-Pumphrey is a work in progress as a punt returner, looking very shaky on a couple of occasions. Meanwhile, he was given a rude awakening by the Packers' defense and took a beating, something that has to be concerning considering his diminutive size. I think Pumphrey got hit more tonight than he did during his entire stint at San Diego State.
-Bryce Treggs has been a forgotten guy but he's been steady throughout camp and showed up tonight, catching seven passes for 91 yards before possibly tweaking a hamstring. The Eagles have gone from having the worst WR corps in football to a team that will release one or two NFL-caliber receivers.
-First-round pick Derek Barnett was really good in his NFL debut recording two sacks, his first with a counter move to beat the athletic Jason Spriggs, a good sign because Jim Schwartz has been on Barnett to develop a secondary pass-rush move to complement his bend around the edge.
-Dave Fipp's special teams unit had a rare off day, getting beat for a 68-yard punt return TD when Ron Brooks pinched in too far in coverage and lost contain on Trevor Davis. To make matters worse, Brooks injured his hamstring on the play and was forced to leave. The other notable injury was to swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who gingerly walked off with a left knee injury.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen