WTS: ‘Let’s All Hold Off On Wentz’s Coronation’

Plenty of reactions from Carson Wentz's debut against the Browns.

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

After yesterday’s 29-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, let’s see what everyone is saying about the Eagles’ first win of the regular season.

Carson Wentz seemed to be in control of his first career game, opines David Murphy of the Daily News.

Poise is an abstract term that Wentz’s coaches and teammates often invoke to explain their optimism about a future with him at the helm. Here was a concrete manifestation of it, not so much a triumph of will or grit or gumption, but of an ability to make the chaos unfolding around him appear as if it is moving at a manageable speed. It is a rare ability, and the Eagles have seen it ever since they made Wentz the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Coming out of North Dakota State, the book on him was that he was raw, that he would need plenty of polishing, that it would take him some time to harness his athletic gifts and establish himself as a legitimate NFL starter.

All of this was true then and remains true now. Yet those who believe in him do so because of a certain something that they swear he’s always had, a certain something that all the greats at his position seem to possess.

Call it the X factor, the special sauce, whatever. There is a certain level of obliviousness a quarterback must have to everything standing between the ball and his receivers. He must be cognizant of the pass rush without focusing on it. He must play a full-contact game like he is wearing a red jersey. It is a combination of awareness, fearlessness, and reactivity. Wentz seems to have it.

The team’s decision to go with Doug Pederson as head coach looked to be a good one, from Les Bowen of the Daily News.

The same can be said for management’s decision to make under-the-radar candidate Doug Pederson the Eagles’ head coach. It was just one game, against a team that looked pretty hapless, but as openers go, you could not say the Eagles looked sloppy or ill-prepared. Time of possession has been retrieved from the trash bin and reinstated as a relevant stat; the Eagles had the ball for 39 minutes and 20 seconds Sunday, which made a strong effort from Jim Schwartz‘s defense downright dominant.

“When you’re on the field that long, you’re able to impose your will as an offense, and I think that’s what we were able to do today,” tight end Zach Ertz said.

Pederson took one pretty big gamble, on converting a fourth-and-4, and Wentz justified his confidence, then threw the 35-yard TD pass that swung momentum for good on the very next play.

“I thought he called a great game,” Wentz said of Pederson. “I was pretty excited that he had the faith in me to call the fourth-and-4 play.”

Although some players on offense had a good game, Jeff McLane of the Inquirer says others were so-so.

Nelson Agholor

UP – It took him 10 games into his rookie season before he caught his first touchdown pass. Agholor needed only one to get on the board this year. He beat Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden off the line and Wentz dropped a 35-yard touchdown pass into his bucket.

Jordan Matthews

SIDEWAYS – Matthews led both teams with seven catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, but he also had two drops. The receiver gets a slight pass after missing all of the preseason with a knee injury, but after last season’s woes, the mistakes remain troubling.

Kenjon Barner

UP – He did what every chance-of-pace running back should do: He took advantage of a defense that was charged up to stop starter Ryan Mathews and gained 42 yards on just four totes.

Eagles O-line

SIDEWAYS – It was a so-so outing against a subpar defensive front. The run blocking was inconsistent. The pass protection was a little better, but not nearly clean. The job could get tougher if Lane Johnson begins his suspension this week.

The defense played a big role in the win as well, pens Marc Narducci of the Inquirer.

Cleveland had four plays of 20 or more yards, including a 58-yard bomb to rookie Corey Coleman on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. The ball hung up for a long time, but Coleman made an adjustment on the underthrown ball and caught it with Rodney McLeod and Nolan Carroll around him.

“There are a couple of big plays we gave up and I have to play the ball a little better,” Carroll said.

That gave the Browns a first down on the Eagles’ 17-yard-line, but Cleveland had to settle for a field goal, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 13-10. Keeping Cleveland out of the end zone on that series was a turning point for the defense.

“They could have gained a lot of momentum on that [drive] if they would have scored,” said defensive end Connor Barwin, who had one of the Eagles’ three sacks. “We held them to a field goal and that kind of shut it down there.”

Nationally, Peter King of the MMQB named Wentz one of his offensive players of the week.

One of a number of precocious young quarterbacks who impressed this weekend, Wentz, in his first home game outside of North Dakota in his young life, completed 22 of 37 for 278, with two touchdowns and no interceptions in his NFL debut. Philadelphia beat the Browns, 29-10, the only game that’s qualified as a rout among the first 14 played in the league this season. “I wasn’t nervous,” Wentz said afterward. “I don’t really get nervous. I like to listen to worship music before the game to kind of calm my nerves.”

Seemed pretty calm to me. His 19-yard touch fade to Jordan Matthews for a touchdown on the first possession of his professional life was fairly extraordinary, because it was the kind of throw a great touch passer like Russell Wilson would have made.

On the other hand, Greg Bedard of SI.com says to hold off on crowning Wentz as the next great quarterbacks in the league. But he did give a nod to one of Pederson’s coaching decisions.

Slow your roll

Don’t crown Carson Wentz just yet: Carson Wentz, the second overall pick in the draft, had a very good debut for the Eagles in their 29–10 victory over the Browns. Wentz was 22 of 37 for 278 yards, and he had two impressive touchdown passes for a 101.0 pass rating. But he and the Eagles beat a Browns team that is basically an expansion team—Cleveland will be lucky to win a couple of games this season. So let’s all hold off on Wentz’s coronation for a week or two.


Eagles rookie coach Doug Pederson’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-4 at the Cleveland 40-yard line with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter was a big one (of course, it helps when you’re not exactly worried about the Browns’ offense making you pay). The Eagles led 15–10 when Carson Wentz hit TE Zach Ertz for five yards. Wentz threw his second touchdown on the next play to give Philadelphia a comfortable 22–10 lead.

Wentz deserves plenty of credit for leading five scoring drives, while Kenjon Barner also looked good, according to Marc Sessler of NFL.com.

Carson Wentz played just 38 snaps in the preseason, but the No. 2 overall pick looked at home in his NFL debut. The Eagles rookie quarterback opened the game completing four of his first five throws, leaning on his tight ends before unfurling a beautiful 19-yard, over-the-shoulder scoring strike to Jordan Matthews in the left corner of the end zone. While he sails too many throws high, Wentz, who threw 22 of 37 for 278 yards with two scores through the air, deserves a ton of credit for directing five scoring drives against a Browns defense that tried everything to apply pressure.

Wentz stood in the pocket and showed off his strong arm on a variety of lobs, including a key fourth-down conversion that saw the rookie complete a money throw to Zach Ertz before hooking up with Nelson Agholor for his second touchdown pass of the day. It wasn’t perfect, but what Wentz accomplished on Sunday should create a lively week for talk-radio hosts in Cleveland.

3. Ryan Mathews is the obvious volume back in Philly’s offense, but coach Doug Pederson has to be happy with the play of Kenjon Barner, who ripped through the Browns for 42 yards off four carries. Mathews, meanwhile, piled up 77 yards at 3.5 yards per rush with a touchdown against a Cleveland defense that spent an unruly 39-plus minutes on the field.

John Breech of CBSSports.com writes that Wentz’s debut will raise eyebrows outside of Philadelphia.

Wentz’s performance isn’t just going to raise a lot of eyebrows in Philadelphia, it’s also going to raise a lot of eyebrows in Cleveland and Los Angeles. First, if Wentz continues play better, then the Los Angeles Rams might start to second guess their decision to take Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick. Obviously it’s early, but if Wentz succeeds and Goff doesn’t, that will likely put an end to the Jeff Fisher and Les Snead run in L.A.

Also, if Wentz continues to play well, it’s going to make the Browns look bad, which is getting easier and easier to do these days. Less than a week ago, the quarterback needy Browns said they didn’t draft Wentz because he wasn’t a “good fit” for their team.

When a quarterback who’s not a good fit for your team beats you by 19, you have some serious issues to fix.

On the other hand, the good news for the Eagles is that they might’ve just fixed their most serious issue because they might’ve just found their quarterback of the future.

Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com takes a closer look at Wentz’s debut, which was the biggest surprise of the Sunday afternoon games.

Until the Sunday night game, the most shocking starting debut of Week 1 belonged to Wentz. Expected to begin the year as Philly’s third-stringer as recently as two weeks ago, the Sam Bradford trade and Wentz’s recovery from hairline fractures in his ribs were enough to push the North Dakota State product into Philadelphia’s starting lineup. Wentz showed he won’t be leaving that role anytime soon.

Now, before saying anything more, it’s important to preface discussion of Wentz’s performance by noting that he was playing the Browns, who may very well end up as football’s worst defense. Six of Cleveland’s 11 defensive starters have fewer than 10 career starts to their name, and the most veteran player in the lineup was cornerback Tramon Williams, whom Wentz torched for his first touchdown. Fellow corner Joe Haden took his licks too, surrendering Wentz’s second score. While rookies like Carl Nassib and Emmanuel Ogbah flashed for brief moments, the Browns are not a good defense, and we should judge the performance of their opponents accordingly.

With that caveat, Wentz looked great in his professional debut. He finished 22-of-37 for 278 yards with two scores and zero turnovers — and I counted four clean drops on a day where Wentz’s passes were often on the money and in safe places. He handled pressure well, moving around effectively inside the pocket while taking just two sacks, one of which was on a busted screen pass that Wentz was smart to eat.

Against a team like the Browns, Mike Sando of ESPN In$ider isn’t buying Wentz’s sensational debut just yet.

Two weeks ago, Carson Wentz was a rookie backup finding his way. Sunday, he was completing 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards and two scores in the regular-season opener. The future does indeed look bright for the No. 2 overall draft pick, but there’s little sense in reading anything into a positive performance against a team as undermanned as the Browns appear to be. It’s also clear Wentz will need to learn to protect himself better than he has through the preseason and Sunday. Otherwise, the hits he is taking will soon threaten to make him a fixture in the training room.

While Darren Sproles didn’t have a good game yesterday, Alex Gelhar of NFL.com thinks that he is a good pickup on the waiver wire for your fantasy team.

Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (13.2 percent owned)

While Darren Sproles didn’t light up the box score (seven touches, 36 yards), his usage in the Philadelphia offense speaks to the role he should have this season. Sproles led the Eagles backs in offensive plays with 38 (49 percent), though Ryan Mathews wasn’t far behind (37, 48 percent). With so few options emerging this week at the running back position on waivers, stashing Sproles on the bench could be a savvy move. He might be more game-script dependent, though, so owners will want to roll him out in more competitive games, or ones where the Eagles figure to be trailing.

In addition, we all know Mathews carries a lengthy injury history with him, and the team didn’t give Kenjon Barner (six snaps) or Wendell Smallwood (two snaps) much run, meaning Sproles could have handcuff appeal as well. FAAB Suggestion: 0-5 percent.