What Zach Ertz has to do, a crazy Nelson Agholor stat, some baffling Doug Pederson decisions and a little bit of Devonta Freeman.
Here’s a Week 2 Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations:
1. I have an incredible amount of respect for Zach Ertz as a player and a person. He’s on Hall of Fame pace on the field, and the work he’s doing in the community is remarkable and important. And he’s the only player in Eagles history who’s made a game-winning catch in a Super Bowl. But if his contract situation is really affecting his play, he needs to tell his agent to shut down talks with the Eagles until the season’s over because he can’t let it become a distraction. Ertz admitted a couple days before the opener that there were times the contract impasse affected him at practice and then he drops a 4th-and-3 pass in the fourth quarter near midfield with the Eagles down seven? Ertz never drops that pass. And honestly, I didn’t think his body language was that great the whole game. So it’s fair to wonder if the contract situation is affecting his play. Ertz is an all-time Eagle and hopefully the Eagles and his agent can work out a deal. But the best thing Ertz can do right now for himself and for his team is make sure football comes first.
2. Nelson Agholor has as many TD catches of 23 or more yards as a Las Vegas Raider as he had in his last 37 games as an Eagle.
3. Gotta admit I’m kind of baffled at Doug Pederson’s admission Friday that it never occurred to him to try rolling Carson Wentz out with the offense sputtering in Washington. Asked by my colleague Dave Zangaro why he didn’t incorporate a moving pocket into the offense — something Wentz clearly likes and is clearly comfortable with — Pederson said this: “I guess looking back on it, you could always second guess yourself, I guess. Something I've got to do a better job of and be more conscious of it.” Everybody watching the game was screaming for Pederson to try getting Wentz on the move, where he sees the field so well and makes so many plays. And it never occurred to the head coach? How is that even possible?
4. There are a lot of intriguing matchups Sunday, but the biggest thing I want to see is Wentz putting together a consistent, steady, intelligent 60 minutes of football. I want to see him making plays to help his team, not hurt it. I want to see him make quick, sharp, intelligent decisions and fire the football confidently. I want to see him protect the ball and not be hesitant to chuck it into the stands if Aaron Donald is bearing down on him and nobody’s open. I want to see the Wentz we saw at the end of last year. His performance Sunday was alarming, even in an unusual season without preseason games. He’s got to be a lot better Sunday.
5. I’m still not ready to give up on JJ Arcega-Whiteside. I know it’s not the start anybody wanted, and I know it doesn’t look good right now. Ten catches in 18 games is hard to believe for anybody, especially a second-round pick. But there’s no reason he can’t be a functional NFL wide receiver. Now, if we get to the bye week and he has three catches, then I’ll start to wonder.
6. After they built a 17-0 lead Sunday, the Eagles threw the ball 30 times and ran it 9 times. Why, Doug?
7. I honestly do not understand the Eagles’ approach to injuries. Why tell Eagles fans for a month that Lane Johnson is “day-to-day” when you know he has a serious injury that eventually required surgery and might miss the opener? Does it really give you a competitive advantage to pretend he’s OK when he’s not? Doug was asked on Aug. 29 if Lane was in jeopardy of missing the opener, and he said. “No, he’s fine. He’s still day-to-day.” What Pederson didn’t say is that Johnson either just had ankle surgery or was about to. Day-to-day? He missed a month. Maybe Pederson just likes playing games with the media, but the reality is it’s not about us, it’s about fans who pay a lot of money for tickets and gear and parking and deserve to know what’s going on with their football team.
8. If Devonta Freeman has anything left, the Eagles have to sign him. But it’s rare for running backs with his career arc — big Pro Bowl seasons in 2015 and 2016, production drop-off in 2017, a 2018 season wiped out by injury, another production drop-off in 2019 — to regain their form. Running backs have a short shelf life, and Freeman’s may have expired. But if he’s healthy and can run, he can help this team. He’s only 28 and obviously wouldn’t be asked to carry the load. If he can still be that elusive runner, willing blocker and terrific receiver he was a few years ago in Atlanta, the Eagles should sign snap him right up.
9. Looks like the Eagles will have Derek Barnett, Javon Hargrave and Brandon Graham all in uniform Sunday, which would give them Barnett, Graham and Josh Sweat outside and Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson and Hargrave inside. The Eagles are paying those guys a fortune — the Eagles’ defensive line is the highest-paid in the NFL with a combined average annual salary of $60 million, according to Spotrac. With the exception of Sweat, those are all high draft picks or big-money free agents. On paper, this should be one of the NFL’s best D-lines. If the Eagles are going to accomplish anything this year, they have to play like it.
10. This is the first time the Browns have won a game before the Eagles since 1994.