10 day-after takeaways from Eagles' first preseason game

10 day-after takeaways from Eagles' first preseason game

For those who think I don't have a hard job, I watched the Eagles' preseason game live last night, then I watched it again this morning.

That's twice in like 12 hours!

When I watched it again Friday morning, some of the game confirmed what I already came away with from Thursday night, but I learned plenty more, too.

Here are 10 next-day takeaways from Preseason Game No.1:

1. I was in the locker room when Doug Pederson held his postgame press conference, but I couldn't believe what he said about Carson Wentz's flip play. You know, the one where Wentz ran downfield and was upended by a Bucs defender.

Wentz said he'll learn from the play. Hopefully he doesn't take his head coach's advice.

"Kind of loved it," Pederson said. "Wish he would have hurdled the guy instead of taking one in the legs. You know the guy is going low on a big quarterback like that. They're usually not going to stay up. I wish he would have hurdled. The fact he'd done a lot of that in college, that was a no-brainer for me."

I have ever heard an NFL head coach say he wants his star quarterback to hurdle defenders. That's not a good idea. Never a good idea. As bad as the play could have been, it could have been worse if Wentz was already in the air when it happened. I still can't believe Pederson said it.

2. While we're talking about things I can't believe Pederson said, there's this: he answered 12 questions about Lane Johnson. Twelve!

As a reporter, I'm all for honesty from coaches. It's refreshing and in many cases, there's not the downside some coaches think there is.

But on Thursday night, I was shocked to not only see how many questions Pederson fielded about Johnson, but also how he answered them. Pederson repeatedly used the word "upheld" when talking about the reported looming suspension. Just one problem, Johnson hasn't been suspended yet!

Aside from his press conference, I thought Pederson had a pretty good night. He didn't flub any time management or play calls to the surprise of many.

3. Chase Daniel had a horrible game (see story), but it wasn't all his fault. The offensive line in front of him and the receivers on the field with him were equally as bad. I'll focus on the two guards for a second. I was shocked to re-watch the game and see how poorly Stefen Wisniewksi played. Sure, he was going against Gerald McCoy for a good portion of the game, but still, he just looked terrible. So did Isaac Seumalo. Many thought the rookie third-rounder would challenge for a starting gig this year. Not happening yet. He looked lost at times.

4. Forget the numbers, I thought Wentz looked really good. Aside from the interception, which, upon review, was less of a terrible decision and more of a terrible throw, he played really well. He took command, fired the ball and showed his athleticism.

No, the accuracy wasn't always there. Plenty of throws weren't perfect, but his receivers did him no favors. I counted at least three blatant drops.

I want to highlight two plays: Earlier on the drive that ended with that interception, Wentz threw a ball to Chris Pantale across the middle, but the ball was a little behind him. Pantale caught it, but the pass slowed him down. After the play, Wentz nodded his head; he learned something. On the very next play, he rifled a ball to tight end M.J. McFarland across the middle. It was probably his best throw of the night because he hit McFarland in stride, through a tight window. It's going to be fun watching him figure this out.

5. Rueben Randle looked completely uninterested in playing football on Thursday night. I didn't notice it completely until re-watching, but he dropped balls, didn't run crisp routes, didn't look like he cared. I've seen this from Randle throughout training camp at times. And at other times, he looks pretty good. He's clearly talented, the type of talent this receiving corps desperately needs, but there's a reason the Giants didn't re-sign him. There's a reason the Eagles were able to get him on a cheap one-year prove-it deal. So far, all he's proved is what the Eagles probably feared.

6. Speaking of the receivers … yuck. Daniel wasn't good, but no one was open. When they were, they dropped balls. Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Chris Givens, Randle, T.J. Graham all showed nothing on Thursday night. This team is lost at receiver without Jordan Matthews.

A little nod in the direction of Paul Turner, though. He's not big or fast, but he finds some open field and catches the football. Maybe there's no room for him on the 53-man roster, but if I ran the Eagles, I'd think about finding a spot for him.

7. The most encouraging thing for Eagles fans on Thursday night should have been the defensive line play. That unit got a lot of work, even after the rest of the first team came out of the game. On the Fletcher Cox strip-sack, if he didn't get the ball out, Bennie Logan would have had a big sack. This unit is the key to the Eagles' defense. So far, so good.

8. In the secondary, the corners had a bad day, while the safeties had a good one. And we're not just talking about the starters, we're talking about the depth guys, too. Leodis McKelvin, Eric Rowe and Jalen Mills all struggled. Jaylen Watkins, Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos all played well. Watkins has tremendous cover skills for a safety, but his tackling is the question. He did have one nice tackle on Thursday. When it comes time to form the 53-man roster, there might be a tough cut at safety.

9. If you're looking for two reserves who can play, look at DE Steven Means and LB Joe Walker. Walker immediately made an impact last night, avoiding a guard block for a big tackle for loss. It's still fair to be concerned about the depth at linebacker, but Walker might have a future. Because of the depth, his spot is pretty much cemented.

Then there's Means. He's been better than Marcus Smith during training camp and now Smith has a concussion, while Means had a strip sack and generated constant pressure on Thursday. If the decision is based on merit, Means will make this team over Smith.

10. The NFL's idea to put the ball on the 25-yard line on kickoff touchbacks is going to backfire. We already saw it on Thursday night. The league wanted to limit kick returns, but there are probably going to be more. During training camp, the Eagles worked on angling kicks and they were able to execute on Thursday night. During the last couple of weeks, I've been chatting with several special teams players about the new rule, which is on a one-year trial, and many were unsure what was going to happen.

So far, it looks like more returns. It'll make the game more exciting, but it won't have the intended result.

Carson Wentz is back! Eagles QB leads team to touchdown on 1st game back from injury

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Carson Wentz is back! Eagles QB leads team to touchdown on 1st game back from injury

Hey, that Carson Wentz guy … he’s pretty good. 

After the Eagles’ defense got a quick three-and-out, Wentz drove the Eagles down the field with a hurry-up offense to give them their first lead of the game. It was a 12-play, 79-yard touchdown drive. 

It ended when Wentz threw a 13-yard touchdown strike to Dallas Goedert. 

The Eagles went hurry-up, letting Wentz call plays at the line of scrimmage and it seemed to get him into a rhythm. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown on the drive. He had just one bad pass, an overthrow to Josh Perkins. 

On the drive, the Eagles used three tight ends but played Perkins as a wide receiver.

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1:14 p.m.: It’s nice to have this Wentz guy back. On the first drive of his 2018 season, Carson Wentz led the Eagles on a 12-play, 79-yard drive to score the game’s first touchdown. Wentz hit a wide-open Dallas Goedert for a 13-yard touchdown. The Eagles used a no-huddle offense on the first drive and it seemed to get Wentz in a rhythm. He was making calls at the line of scrimmage. 

On the drive, Wentz went 5-for-7 for 55 yards and the touchdown. He’s back. 

The touchdown was also the first of Dallas Goedert’s career. 

1:06 p.m.: Good start for the defense. They force a three-and-out. Punt and now Carson Wentz gets the ball. 

12:16 p.m.: Carson Wentz looks ready. He just led his teammates out of the tunnel. 

11:54 a.m.: Most people think this isn’t the best situation for Wentz to return because of the rain, but I had an interesting chat with NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Barrett Brooks, who disagrees for two reasons. 

1. Offensive linemen love the ran because team generally run the ball. 

2. Defensive linemen are reacting, while the offense knows what it’s doing. Reaction time suffers in the rain, so defensive linemen can’t get off the ball as quickly. 

11:30 a.m.: No surprises with the Eagles' inactives. 

11:20 a.m.: Frank Reich meets near midfield with Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld and Eagles' offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who took Reich's job. 

Reich is now the Colts' head coach, so he might have a slight advantage because of all the familiarity he has with the Eagles, but that stuff is often overblown. Reich is off to a pretty good start in Indy and his team has seemingly bought in. His former coworkers sang his praises this week. Jim Schwartz said Reich is one of the best guys he's ever worked with and called him a "gem of a man." 

10:40 a.m.: Carson Wentz takes the field for early warmups. He's one of the first players on the field to go through his typical early workouts. 

The stands are empty now, but in a few hours, they'll be packed with screaming fans wearing No. 11 jerseys. 

10:15 a.m.: It's still raining in South Philly, but there's a football game to be played. The tarp is coming off the field. Pretty soon, Carson Wentz will take the field for his pregame warmup. 

10 a.m.: Despite the weather, Eagles fans aren't staying away. Maybe it was a slightly late-arriving crowd, but they are here. 

8:31 a.m.: I think Carson Wentz is ready. 

8 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! It’s game day!

It’s a special game day too. After 9 1/2 months of rehab and waiting, Carson Wentz will make his 2018 debut at Lincoln Financial Field. Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles led the Eagles to a 1-1 record over the first two weeks of the season, but now it’s time for Wentz to take over. 

It’s fair to wonder how good Wentz will be in his season debut, especially because he’ll be without some key weapons against the Colts. Darren Sproles (hamstring) and Corey Clement (quad) were ruled out on Friday. Jason Peters (quad), Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Corey Clement (quad) were listed as questionable. Inactives will be announced at 11:30. 

For now, take a look at our expert predictions (see story) and five matchups to watch in this game (see story)


This Sunday, be sure to watch Eagles Pregame Live at 12 p.m. and Eagles Postgame Live immediately after the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia and live streaming on the NBC Sports app. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. on FOX. 

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