Eagles-Browns Final Score: 10 Things We Learned

Here's what we learned about the Eagles in their first game of the season.

Rodney McLeod. (Jeff Fusco)

Rodney McLeod. (Jeff Fusco)

The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-0 after defeating the Cleveland Browns on opening day by a final score of 29 to 10. Here’s a look at 10 things to be learned from this game.

1) Carson Wentz looks like the real deal

Yes, it’s just one game. Yes, it’s just the Browns. But there’s no denying Wentz looked impressive in his first NFL start. Just take a look at the rookie quarterback’s stats.

Wentz’s touchdown passes to Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor were especially impressive. He threw two absolute dimes.

Wentz obviously wasn’t perfect. He sailed a few passes and had a few more batted down. He also held on to the ball too long at times. Overall, though, he showed very encouraging signs for a 23-year-old who missed most of the preseason and didn’t spend most of the offseason working with the starters.

2) The Browns may have made a mistake

Again, it’s early. But it had to be rough for the Browns to watch Wentz beat them after Cleveland passed on the opportunity to draft him. It doesn’t help that one of the Browns’ top decision makers said Wentz didn’t project as a top 20 quarterback in the NFL.

3) Doug Pederson also had an impressive rookie debut

Lost in the Wentz hype is that Pederson also made his NFL head coaching debut on Sunday. The Eagles’ offense got off to a great start on their first drive. Pederson did a great job of play-calling by mixing in different looks and keeping a good balance of runs and passes. The signature moment for Pederson in this game was his decision to go for the conversion on 4th and 4 at Cleveland’s 40-yard line in the third quarter. That’s the kind of aggression that was expected from Chip Kelly but never really materialized. Pederson capitalized on the conversion by then dialing up a deep pass from Wentz to Agholor which was good for a touchdown.

With a win on Sunday, Pederson became the first Eagles coach to win his first home game since Dick Vermeil in 1976.

4) Jim Schwartz’s defense

Philadelphia’s defense allowed 288 yards and 10 total points. The Eagles could have easily kept the Browns to only six points if not for some highly questionably officiating decisions in the red zone.

Schwartz’s unit forced three straight three-and-outs to open the game. The Browns didn’t gain a first down until three minutes into the second quarter. That’s not too shabby.

Overall, it was a good debut for Schwartz as well.

5) Pass rush could afford to be better

The defense was not perfect. Despite finishing with two sacks, the pass rush was too lacking at times. Robert Griffin III had a lot of time to throw. The Eagles got bailed out by Griffin’s inaccuracy and drops from wide open Browns receivers.

6) The Eagles’ receivers were better than expected

After missing the entire preseason with a knee injury, Jordan Matthews returned with a bang. The third-year Eagles receiver had seven receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown. He had two drops as well, so that’s still a problem. Despite that, however, it’s clear he’s still Philadelphia’s best receiver by a long stretch.

Nelson Agholor was surprisingly good for the Eagles after struggling all offseason long. He didn’t drop any passes. He ran a really nice route to beat Joe Haden and get open on his touchdown catch, too. Agholor finished with four catches for 57 yards.

7) The offensive line looks OK

Philadelphia’s offensive line held up relatively fine in their first game. The Eagles’ lineman weren’t flat out dominating defenders up front but they assisted in Wentz’s success and paved the way for 133 total rushing yards. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson had some false start issues. It looked like they were getting an early jump more often than they were even getting flagged, so that could be an issue if that continues. It also remains to be seen how much longer the Eagles will have Johnson. The right tackle is still expected to face a 10-game suspension at some point.

8) Rodney McLeod is always around the ball

There’s a reason why the Eagles aggressively went after McLeod in free agency: the former Rams safety makes plays. He came up with a nice diving interception (pictured above) after both Jordan Hicks and Nolan Carroll tipped a pass by Griffin. McLeod also made a really nice stop in the backfield on a Browns run.

9) The Eagles have a fullback!

One of the most fun moments from this game was seeing Eagles backup defensive tackle Beau Allen line up as a goal line fullback. And you know what? He actually seemed to handle that role fine. Allen cleared out his defenders with ease and allowed Ryan Mathews to score a short rushing touchdown to seal the game.

10) Donnie Jones is still a beast

The 36-year-old Jones is the unheralded hero of the game. The veteran punter’s first attempt went for 67 yards. Then he bested that with a 72-yard punt. Only three of his six punt were downed inside the 20, but it could have been five if his coverage team lived up to their end of the bargain.

Jones is an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Eagles would do well to work on a new contract with him.