Carson Wentz’s struggles, injury scare clear way for Eagles to roll dice on Colin Kaepernick

In most circumstances, the Eagles’ uninspired loss at home to the Seahawks would have spelled the end of their season. It marked the second week in a row they failed a test against one of the league’s contenders, this time to drop them a game under .500, putting them three back in the NFC wild-card race with five to play. 

Were it not for the happenstance of being in 2019’s weakest division, Philly couldn’t be blamed too severely for packing it in and just going through the motions the rest of the way. Thankfully for the team’s sake, the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys have proved just as inept against the top tier of the NFL. They too failed in their bid to upset New England, as Philly did the week before, meaning the Cowboys only have a single-game lead for what promises to be the division’s only playoff berth. 

Whereas Dallas appears to be hamstrung by clueless coaching, the entire offense is out of sorts for the Eagles. The line’s performance has dropped off, especially with the absence of Lane Johnson, whose rookie backup had to be benched at halftime. Guard Brandon Brooks, arguably one of the best interior linemen in the league, also had to leave in the first quarter with an illness due to his anxiety disorder. The receivers have been riddled by drops, and that’s even when they’re at full strength, which they weren’t on Sunday. The league’s official count puts them in the top 10 in drops with 14, though by a local reporter’s account, it was actually 23 going into Sunday. 

Against Seattle, Carson Wentz had one of the worst outings of his career, and this is facing a far cry from the peak years of Seahawks’ defensive dominance under Pete Carroll. Wentz missed open looks while staring down other receivers. He was off target on screens, including a drive-killing overthrow to Miles Sanders to limit what might have been an early touchdown drive to a field goal. Wentz’s overall completion numbers on the day look respectable, but that’s mostly because, with the quarterback’s confidence shaken and his hand hurt, the play-callers limited him to short if ineffective dump passes. On the day, Wentz only compiled 256 yards on 45 throws, yielding an anemic 5.7-yard average per attempt.

Wentz dinged his hand attempting to recover one of his two lost fumbles, part of a four-turnover day. Reporters observed him leaving the training room with his throwing hand wrapped in ice and a huge bandage after the game. X-rays were conducted on the hand during the game, and the results were negative, though further tests Monday did reveal a bone bruise. Last year’s back injury, originally diagnosed as fine, has to cause concern for anyone wanting to casually wave off an injury scare for Wentz. Even if it isn’t a debilitating issue, it provides the Eagles an opportunity to give him a breather, let him recover physically and gather his nerves. 

There might be mitigating circumstances for some of Wentz’s problems — bad weather, depleted supporting cast — but this is the NFL, so disproportionate blame for losses comes with the territory every bit as much as effulgent praise accompanies triumph for the quarterback. Hordes of Eagles fans spent Sunday afternoon lamenting the team allowing Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles escape to Jacksonville, though he isn’t exactly setting the world on fire there, and keeping Wentz on account of the draft capital the team used on him in 2016. 

As little as Eagles fans want to have Dallas used as an example for their team, Dak Prescott offers a teachable lesson within the division. Quarterback progression is not always linear. Some quarterbacks go through periods of regression within their development before hitting their peak. Prescott has emerged out of the other end of a slump period when he looked like he might be middling at best. Wentz has had a down season after what had mostly been upward trajectory through his first three years, though injuries might have delayed this cycle of development by costing him time and reps.

Normally, the best course of action would be to ride it out. Sometimes quarterbacks just have to work through the tough times and smooth out mechanical or mental errors with the lessons learned by mistakes. But the fact that the Eagles remain in contention despite their poor record, and the fact that Wentz has at least something of a medical issue, allows them to be bold in this instance. Turning to the 40-year-old Josh McCown would be the move only if they wanted to wave the white flag on 2019. No, the Eagles should be the team that brings Colin Kaepernick back into the NFL.

After all, the Eagles were one of the eight teams to attend Kaepernick’s rescheduled workout last week. Philly has long been identified as one of the more likely landing spots for Kaepernick if he did return, as the team has been more receptive than most to players committed to social justice issues. What’s more, bringing in Kaepernick now allows Philly to be proactive about its QB situation. McCown already retired before joining the Eagles for a backup job this year. It’s unlikely a veteran of that age would be worth such a potentially significant role. Kaepernick easily upgrades the Eagles at potential backup, and if he does well enough down the stretch, he could potentially serve as competition for the starting role with Wentz next season. Depending on how ownership circles really feel, the league might have a measure of gratitude to the Eagles for bearing the brunt of the media circus likely to accompany his return — and for defanging one of the more damaging critiques of the league in recent years.

This cycle of speculation has played out over and over since Kaepernick was last employed, though the league has only itself to blame for keeping it going in this case. Even if the unilaterally scheduled workout was a bad-faith effort at showing an attempt to get Kaepernick a job, it did bring him back into the headlines, in a context that reinforces his readiness for action. The Eagles as an organization aren’t obligated to bail out the NFL by any stretch, but they can do themselves and the league at large a lot of good by taking the plunge.

By: Mike Tunison

2019 NFL MVP favorites and odds

The NFL quarterbacks’ MVP dynasty

Two gifted running backs — Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson — won the Associated Press NFL MVP Award in consecutive seasons, 2005-2006. Since then, 11 of the past 12 MVPs have been quarterbacks, including 2018 top dog Patrick Mahomes who earned 41 of the 50 first-place votes. Fellow quarterback Drew Brees finished second. So Adrian Peterson’s 2012 season — less than a year removed from a torn ACL — remains the last time somebody other than an NFL quarterback hoisted the NFL MVP hardware.

Spoiler alert: Based on the favorites to win the 2019 MVP, don’t expect this trend to change anytime soon.

Odds via Bovada 2 of 16

Cam Newton

Odds: +2,500
2018 Stats: 3,395 pass yards, 24 TDs and 13 INTs | 488 rush yards  and four TDs

A shoulder injury may have cost Newton the final two games on paper, but anybody who watched the Panthers quarterback grind out the 2018 season knows it cost the team much more. Carolina started the season 6-2 and in a prime position to reach the playoffs. However, the severity of Newton’s shoulder injury prevented him from throwing balls down field and allowed defenses to cheat up and play the underneath routes. After the hot start, the Panthers lost seven of their last eight games. Newton had offseason surgery to repair the shoulder, and he’s expected to be back at 100 percent by the start of the season. His MVP chances ride on improved play of DJ Moore, Jarius Wright and a healthy Greg Olsen. The veteran tight end has missed 16 games over the past two seasons due to injury, but when healthy he’s Cam’s most trusted target. If Olsen misses time, running back Christian McCaffrey’s MVP odds could be just as high as Cam’s. 3 of 16

Philip Rivers

Odds: +2,000
2018 stats: 4,308 pass yards, 32 TDs and 12 INTs

Rivers may be the NFL equivalent of MLB’s Cal Ripken. The Chargers ironman has not missed a game for 13 consecutive seasons. While the league has gone to great lengths to protect the quarterback, the fact Rivers hasn’t sustained a serious injury over the past 208 games is nothing short of a miracle. Led by Keenan Allen, his receiving corps remains intact and receives a slight upgrade with the full-time return of tight end Hunter Henry who missed the 2018 regular season with a torn ACL. The one constant who is missing as of press time is Melvin Gordon. The Chargers starting running back is holding out in hopes of a new contract. If Gordon’s holdout lingers into the regular season, Rivers’ odds of winning the 2019 MVP should take a notable hit. 4 of 16

Jimmy Garoppolo

Odds: +3,300
2018 stats: 718 pass yards, five TDs and three INTs (in only three games due to torn ACL)

The saying goes, “we don’t know what we don’t know,” and when it comes to Jimmy G. what we don’t  know outweighs his elite hype. Garoppolo has yet to play in more than six regular-season games and missed the final 13 games of the 2018 season with a torn ACL. So the 2019 season will be a fresh canvas on which to either paint a masterpiece and fill in those unknown gaps OR post pedestrian stats as he has through his first nine games as the 49ers quarterback: 12:8 TD:INT ratio. If you’re looking for a reason to back this long shot, Kyle Shanahan’s offensive schemes will benefit — not hurt — Jimmy G’s shot at the 2019 MVP. 5 of 16

Matt Ryan

Odds: +3,000
2018 Stats: 4,924 pass yards, 35 TDs and seven INTs

Ryan was one of only four quarterbacks last season to finish with more than 600 pass attempts. Aside from a pass-first offense, the primary reason his pass attempts reached a three-year high is due to a host of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, which turned the secondary into Swiss-cheese city, and opponents racked up early leads. So Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley (10 TDs as a rookie) and others spent most of the game in rally mode via the pass. If the defense can stay healthy, the Falcons are one of those squads that could flip the script and qualify for the playoffs one year after missing them. Ryan is as consistent as they come and despite turning 30 years old, Jones will go down as one of the top targets in NFL history. 6 of 16

Ben Roethlisberger

Odds: +3,000
2018 Stats: 5,129 pass yards, 34 TDs and 16 INTs

Without Le’Veon Bell last season, Roethlisberger led the NFL in completions (career-high), attempts (career-high), passing yards (career-high) and pass yards per game. The loss of both Bell and Antonio Brown will no doubt change the Steelers’ offensive dynamic, but don’t sleep on wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to fill Brown’s shoes as Big Ben’s primary receiver in addition to a healthy running game of James Connor and Jaylen Samuels behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. While many believe the AFC North torch has been passed to Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, an MVP season by Roethlisberger would mute any chance of that happening. 7 of 16

Deshaun Watson

Odds: +2,000
2018 Stats: 4,165 pass yards, 26 TDs and nine INTs | 551 rush yards and five TDs

The good news for Watson is that he’ll probably compete for an NFL MVP one day. The bad news is that unless his offensive line play improves 1,000 percent, he won’t be among the 2019 MVP finalists. Remember: Despite mobility that rivals Russell Wilson, Watson was sacked a league-high 62 times. To be fair some of those sacks were no doubt Watson’s fault. However, as of early August, head coach Bill O’Brien admits he still doesn’t know who will start on the offensive line. How does this not get addressed in the offseason? Forget Watson’s MVP chances. The Texans could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. 8 of 16

Mitch Trubisky

Odds: +2,000
2018 Stats: 3,223 pass yards, 24 TDs and 12 INTs

The Chicago Bears 2018 defense ranked first in points allowed and against the rush, third in turnover differential (+12) and seventh against the pass. Its pass offense ranked outside the top 20. So the obvious question becomes where can Trubisky improve in his third year when the top three receiving targets remain the same and the Bears front office elected to shake up the running back depth chart after averaging 121 rush yards per game last season (11 th)? It’s a loaded question. Despite an above-average arm and 421 rush yards and three rush TDs last season, it’s hard to fathom Trubisky making enough of a statistical leap toward MVP when the most valuable players — plural — on the team likely reside on the defensive side of the ball. 9 of 16

Russell Wilson

Odds: +2,500
2018 Stats: 3,448 pass yards, 35 TDs and seven INTs

Because the Seahawks averaged a league-leading 160 yards per game last season, Wilson’s passing totals were the lowest since 2014. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for the Seahawks to make another Super Bowl run, the offense needs to find a consistent passing game aside from Wilson running for his life on third and long. Wilson was sacked 51 times last season, but that total could have been higher if not for his elite mobility out of the pocket. So the offensive line play must improve, and Pete Carroll needs to find lighting in a bottle with second-round draft pick DK Metcalf. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound receiver out of Ole Miss is a polarizing brand, but Wilson has no choice but to embrace the rookie because without Doug Baldwin, No. 3’s primary target is 5-foot-11, 175-pound speedster Tyler Lockett. 10 of 16

Carson Wentz

Odds: +1,200
2018 Stats: 3,074 pass yards, 21 TDs and seven INTs (11 games)

Wentz’s 2017 season was cut short due to an ACL tear, and he missed the final three games of the 2018 season with a stress fracture in his back. The knock of Wentz is that these annual ailments date back to high school. However, when you place the injury history on the back burner and assess a potential 16-game campaign for the Eagles quarterback, it’s evident he has the talent and players around him to make a run at an MVP and Super Bowl title. One guy who will help him reach those goals is DeSean Jackson. The speedy, downfield receiver returns to Philadelphia at age 32 and should allow for Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor to enjoy softer coverages this season. Also, the arrival of Jordan Howard should improve the Eagles 28 th-ranked running game of a season ago, which should also boost Wentz’s MVP odds.

By: Ryan Fowler

Winners and losers from the Divisional Round of the 2019 NFL playoffs

The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs got underway Saturday night with the AFC’s top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Indianapolis Colts. A week off did nothing to slow the Chiefs’ offensive momentum.

Led by Patrick Mahomes, who did not find his first career playoff start nearly as intimidating as the pundits thought he would, the Chiefs jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, and never looked back. The Colts hardly looked ready to play, nothing like the team that rode a 10-1 streak into the weekend. The Chiefs went on to win by a final score of 31-13.

The Cowboys and Rams met in LA for the late game on Saturday night to decide the first of the NFC Championship entrants. The Rams’ running game had no troubles against a usually stout Cowboys defense, and the home team rolled on for a 30-22 win.

On Sunday, the Patriots had no problems running around and through the Chargers, winning 41-28 to lock down their eighth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship game.

The Saints turned aside the Eagles, sinking their hope of a Super Bowl repeat with a 20-14 win in New Orleans. The Saints will host the Rams there next weekend.

Winner: Michael Thomas

The postseason hasn’t been filled with inspiring performances from offensive skill players. But the Saints wide receiver changed that. He and Drew Brees single-handedly got the Saints offense rolling again after a slow start. His best catch of the day — and there were A LOT of them — was on the Saints’ go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. Just watch it.

He finished the game with 171 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches.

Loser: Nick Foles’ magic

You can’t impugn what the guy did prior to this game. The Eagles wouldn’t have been playing this weekend, or last, if Foles hadn’t stepped up as the team’s “closer” again this season with Carson Wentz hurt. But he turned into a pumpkin again, underthrowing his receivers and just unable to get the ball to his receivers when the Eagles needed it the most.

With free agency looming this spring, Foles may have cost himself some money with his performance this week, maybe not much, but enough to notice.

Winner: Time of possession

It feels like we haven’t had a good conversation about time of possession since the early days of the Chip Kelly experience in Philly. This time it was the Saints putting on the clock clinic.

It happened in the third quarter. Trailing 10-14, the Saints got the ball at their own 8-yard line. From there they put together a grinding 92-yard touchdown drive over 18 plays and 11:29 minutes, essentially monopolizing the entire third quarter.

Winner: The Patriots defense

Absent most of the season, the Patriots defense looked like one of the NFL’s most fearsome in the first half of the game. Philip Rivers never had a chance against a pass rush that was previously dormant.

Loser: Philip Rivers’ legacy

He’s got more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions over the course of his career than either Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, but unlike those other two first-round picks from the 2004 draft, he does not have a Super Bowl ring. Instead, he and J.P. Losman have something in common.

Winner: Patriots running backs

The Chargers defense put on a clinic for how to stop a creative running game in last week’s win against the Ravens. Apparently, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was able to find some holes in their game plan.

Sony Michel rolled up nearly 100 yards and scored three touchdowns … in the first half. He’s the first rookie running back in franchise history to rush for more than 100 yards in a playoff game. He finished the day with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.

James White, who led the team in receptions during the regular season with 87, was Tom Brady’s favorite receiver on the day, catching 15 of 17 passes for 97 yards.

The Patriots chewed up the clock with their running backs, leaving little time for Rivers and Co. to put points on the board. It also helped keep the workload light for their defense, and teased out what their game plan might be next week against Kansas City.

Winner: C.J. Anderson

The Rams signed C.J. Anderson in mid-December, when Todd Gurley was dealing with a knee injury. Anderson had been released by both the Panthers and Raiders earlier in the season and was really just supposed to be a warm body while Gurley could heal up.

Instead, Anderson has bulldozed every defense he faced. In two games to end the season, he carried the ball 43 times for 299 yards and two touchdowns — that averaged out to 7 yards per carry. But that was against two of the worst teams in the NFL, the Cardinals and 49ers. Next up was the playoffs — and a Cowboys defense that ranked fifth in the league against the run during the regular season. Last week, they held the Seahawks’ top-ranked rushing offense to just 73 yards on the ground.

Anderson had more than that in the first half alone: 12 carries for 78 yards. Even with a healthy Gurley back in the lineup, Anderson was a force in the Rams’ first playoff win in 14 years. He used his, uh, rotund frame to help the Rams dominate the time of possession and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

Anderson was the leading rusher with 123 yards and two touchdowns. Plus, he did this:

All the Winners and Losers here



Eagles Beat 49ers and Move to 7-1

Written by Zach Berman at

Carson Wentz watched the final five minutes of the Eagles’ 33-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers from the Lincoln Financial Field sideline with good health and a raincoat. Backup Nick Foles entered the lopsided game. Wentz likes when he can take the last snap in a victory formation, but it’s even better when he doesn’t need to take the field at all because the result is already determined.

It was supposed to happen this way against the winless 49ers. The Eagles entered the game as nearly two-touchdown favorites  — they covered, by the way  —  and they didn’t overlook a weak opponent. They are 7-1, their best start to a season since 2004, when they reached the Super Bowl. With the calendar turning to November and the season passing the halfway point, it’s becoming clearer each week that the Eagles are legitimate contenders.

“We’re halfway through the season, we’re right where we want to be,” veteran defensive end Brandon Graham said. “But things can go downhill real easily if you start [impressing] yourself. So we need to make sure … we don’t worry about 7-1 until we get done and they say, ‘Hey, we’re going to the playoffs.’ That’s when we can have a different mind-set. But right now, we haven’t done anything.”

The Eagles dominated a game in which the offense didn’t play especially well. That says much about the Eagles through eight weeks, and it might say even more about the 49ers. The Eagles defense excelled while limiting the 49ers to 238 yards with two turnovers, four sacks, and 12 quarterback hits.

In most of their wins this season, Wentz needed to star. But the Eagles didn’t require Wentz to be spectacular to win Sunday.

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Eagles Beat Redskins and Carson Wentz Is the Truth

Written by Tim McManus at

The exceptional is starting to feel commonplace when it comes to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Just about every time he has played in what is turning out to be a breakout sophomore season, Wentz has made a dazzling play or two that leaves spectators asking: How did he do that?

Cut to the beginning of the third quarter against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, a divisional game that would either pull the Eagles closer to the NFC East pack or allow them to break away. Having just lost potential Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters to a knee injury, Wentz dropped back on a third-and-goal from the 10-yard line and was immediately swallowed by the pass rush. But he dodged the first wave, stepped into the second and somehow, with two Washington defenders tackling him, lofted a ball to the right corner of the end zone and into the arms of running back Corey Clement for a touchdown.

There were other plays to choose from — his Houdini escape early in the fourth quarter, on which he improbably emerged from a crowd of Washington defenders and broke loose for a 17-yard scramble, or his 64-yard touchdown bomb to Mack Hollins — but it was hard to top the TD to Clement.

After four scores Monday, Wentz leads the league with 17 touchdown passes against four interceptions. With Aaron Rodgers out because of a broken collarbone, Wentz is playing at a higher level than any other QB in the NFC. The proof is in the results: Behind Wentz, the Eagles have raced to a 6-1 record, the best in the league. They had an 88 percent chance to win the division entering the game, per FPI, and they took a big step by completing the sweep of Washington. The Eagles are now the only team in the NFC East with a winning record. They not only hold a 2 1/2-game lead over Washington but also hold the primary tiebreaker: head-to-head.

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Wentz Leads the Young QB Revolution

Written by Peter King at

Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. But this Wentzmania (we’ll get to his details shortly) leads the way for a slew of kid quarterbacks that has defined the first month of the season. Six of them. None named Jared Goff.

How ridiculously well the young quarterbacks have done:

Age QB, Team Overall Pick (Year) W-L TD-Int
23 Carson Wentz, PHI 2 (2016) 3-0 5-0
24 Trevor Siemian, DEN 250 (2015) 3-0 5-3
23 Dak Prescott, DAL 135 (2016) 2-1 1-0
24 Jimmy Garoppolo, NE 62 (2014) 2-0 4-0
22 Jacoby Brissett, NE 91 (2016) 1-0 0-0
23 Cody Kessler, CLE 93 (2016) 0-1 0-0

Young Turk W-L record: 11-2. Young Turk TD-INT ratio: 15-3.

Is that really different? I’d say so. Last year, there were two young guns playing early, and Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston were a combined 2-4 after three weeks. This year, as we prepare to exit September, the four kids who’ve played enough to qualify for the league leaders—Garoppolo, Wentz, Siemian and Prescott—are 2, 7, 11 and 12, respectively, in the league in passer rating.

My theory on why we’re seeing such competent-to-outstanding play by these millennials was explained in three words by Wentz outside the Eagles’ fairly excited locker room Sunday evening. They’re the same three words he spoke to me at the combine last February when Wentz was on trial for his future, trying to make the jump from North Dakota State to the NFL.

“It’s just football,” he told me.

Wentz doesn’t make it too big. I mentioned in this column after Week 1 that there were some preternaturally young kids playing well at quarterback, and now it’s not just a novelty act. Siemian, Prescott and Garoppolo have the same ethos as Wentz. (I’m not too familiar with Kessler or Brissett, who are playing solely due to injury.) Siemian strafed the Bengals on the road on Sunday, Prescott looked like a six-year vet on Sunday night in beating Chicago, and Wentz—well, let Eagles coach Doug Pederson do the gee whiz part of this. “Who’d have thought a kid from North Dakota would be such a mature individual and would make the adjustment to the pro game as quickly as he has?” Pederson said.

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Eagles Cruise to Victory Behind Wentz

Written by Nancy Armour at

Carson Wentz is ruining it for rookies everywhere.

He’s supposed to be struggling, taking his lumps on the field and in the standings while he negotiates the NFL’s steep learning curve. Or, better yet, riding the bench, biding his time behind a veteran until coaches and the front office are satisfied he’s ready to take the reins for real.

Apparently no one told Wentz that.

Thrust into the starter’s role a little over two weeks ago after the trade of Sam Bradford, Wentz put on another impressive performance in Monday night’s 29-14 win over the Chicago Bears. Yes, his two starts have come against the NFL’s JV — with apologies to JVs everywhere — and there is a lot of football still to be played.

But the Philadelphia Eagles are 2-0, one of only three NFC teams that can say that. Anyone who claims they saw this coming when the No. 2 pick in the draft moved to the head of the class is lying.

“I’m feeling really good,” Wentz said. “I usually feel good even when bad plays happen. I’ve just got to keep plugging away. I feel confident.”

What has made Wentz’s debut so notable is that the Eagles are not winning in spite of him. Remember when Ben Roethlisberger took the Pittsburgh Steelers to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie? Sure, he had his moments, but it was the defense that carried that team.

That’s not the case here. Again, it’s early. But aside from not protecting himself better when he scrambles, Wentz is not making rookie mistakes.

He’s not making mistakes, period.

Wentz became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to begin a season 2-0 without committing a turnover, his accuracy and fluid throwing motion never giving opponents any openings. Wentz was “only” 21 of 34 Monday, but several of those incompletions were the fault of receivers with serious cases of the butterfingers.

Yes, Jordan Matthews, this means you.

A likely touchdown was turned into a field goal by Jacoby Glenn, who swatted a ball away from Philadelphia tight end Trey Burton on the goal line. And the Eagles had every right to howl about a no-call on Glenn for pass interference on a deep ball to Nelson Agholor.

Despite that, Wentz never got flustered. This was Monday Night Football, and there are many veteran quarterbacks who have faded under its bright lights. Yes, Jay Cutler, this means you.

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Wentz Looks Good on Debut

Written by Marc Sessler at

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz started off his NFL career a winner as Philly (1-0) topped theBrowns by a 29-10 score at home. Wentz went from possibly being inactive to the Eagles’ starting quarterback after Sam Bradford was dealt to Minnesota. So far, so good.

1. 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 the occasional throw, Wentz — 22 of 37 for 278 yards with two touchdowns — deserves a ton of credit for directing five scoring drives against aBrowns 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.

2. The Browns were invisible on offense until constructing a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown march midway through the second quarter to cut Philly’s lead to 10-7. Prior to that drive, the Eagles had seven first downs to zero for Cleveland. The tone of the game shifted when Robert Griffin III hit Terrelle Pryor on a 44-yard bomb that set up that first score, but the quarterback — 12 of 26 for 190 yards — later saw an off-target pass to Corey Coleman tipped and picked off. The rookie wideout made up for it with a 58-yard grab in the second half, but Cleveland’s offense feels like a deep-ball-or-bust operation. Griffin wasn’t helped by a nonexistent ground game or by second-year center Cam Erving, who floated a snap over RG3’s head and out of the end zone for a game-changing safety. The second half saw Griffin hammered by Philly’s defense, which piled up three sacks and forced the passer into a handful of rushed, erratic throws. The Browns are a long way away from fielding a sustainable attack.

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Carson Wentz Named Starter of Eagles

Written by Lorenzo Reyes at USA

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Monday that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz will start the team’s season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

“Everybody feels like this kid is ready to go,” Pederson said Monday in a press conference from the team’s facility. “We drafted him to take on the reins. It’s something now that we’re prepared to do. We’re looking forward to Cleveland and one day at a time with him. At the same time, we’ve got to be smart in how we handle it, but we fully expect him to perform like he’s capable of performing in what we have seen throughout (organized team activities) and training camp.”

Added Wentz: “I’m ready to go out there and play within myself and play within this system and lead these guys. The pressure from the outside and everything, it’s just the game of football.”

This is the first time Pederson and Wentz addressed the media since the team traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday for a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft and an additional selection in 2018.

All throughout training camp, Pederson and the Eagles had said Bradford would be the team’s starter and that Wentz would be the third-string passer, behind backup Chase Daniel. After the trade, Daniel will remain in that role.

But how exactly did Wentz go from third to first?

“Well, the trade happened,” Pederson said. “We were fortunate to get some draft picks back that we gave up in the trade for Carson and it was right for this football team. It’s something we believe in and this is why we drafted him.”

The Eagles traded with the Browns in April to get the rights for the No. 2 overall selection and the ability to draft Wentz. But it was costly. The Eagles gave up the No. 8 overall pick, as well as third- and fourth-round selections in 2016, a 2017 first-rounder, and a 2018 second-round pick.

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Eagles Have Hope With Wentz and Bradford

Written By Judy Battista at

The heckler behind the goal post Sunday had a particular problem with Josh Huff.

“I hate you,” he screamed at the Philadelphia Eagles’ third-year receiver. “Get off the field. This isn’t Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks anymore.”

It’s not Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles anymore, either, and the first week of the team’s training camp under Doug Pederson has made that clear. Practices are slower, because of the frequent stops in the action so coaches can make corrections on the spot, which Pederson believes is the best way for players to learn. They involve many more plays and are longer — Saturday’s practice lasted three hours — to get players ready for three-hour games. So many vestiges of Kelly’s three-year era in Philadelphia have disappeared — from Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray to a sign leading to the locker room at Lincoln Financial Field that read “Habits Reflect the Mission” — that the overhaul reads as an indictment of Kelly and an attempt to wipe him from the franchise’s memory.

“It’s really, really different,” Pro Bowl DT Fletcher Cox said. “Everything is different except we’re not at Lehigh. It’s the same as from 2012.”

That, of course, is the last year that theEagles were coached by Andy Reid, Pederson’s mentor and the man whose fingerprints are on so much of how Pederson is shaping the Eagles. There is more similarity than just the practices, too. When Howie Roseman reassumed control of the roster after he survived a brutal power struggle with Kelly, he resumed an Eagles philosophy of signing their own players to new contracts before their old ones expire, among them Cox,Zach Ertz, Malcolm Jenkins and Brent Celek. That is what Roseman, who had been exiled to the other side of the building when Kelly had control, chooses to think of when he remembers this offseason. The sell-off of many of Kelly’s most high-profile acquisitions was to get value from them — draft picks — which helped accomplish other goals, most particularly moving up to draft quarterback Carson Wentz. From the outside, it looked as if the Eagles were settling all family business after Kelly was fired late last season and harkening back to a much sunnier time in Philadelphia. Roseman admits that talking team-building philosophy with Pederson is easier because they were both schooled by Reid. But Roseman insists that the Kelly era was not all bad.

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